Volvos compact S40 sedan and its V40 wagon companion receive a mild freshening that includes a new grille, headlight surrounds and body-colored moldings for the 2003 model year. A new three-spoke steering wheel will be installed, and a CD player is now standard.
Volvo steers the S40 toward younger buyers, while the Swedish automakers other models generally focus more toward an older crowd. Developed jointly with Mitsubishi, the entry-level S40 sedan and V40 wagon are built in the Netherlands at a shared manufacturing facility. Ford wholly owns Volvo, but the S40 was developed prior to Fords takeover.
Like other Volvos, the S40 emphasizes safety. Standard curtain-type airbags extend from the front roof pillar to the rear pillar and drop down from above the windows in side collisions.
The S40s 100.9-inch wheelbase is 6 inches shorter than Volvos larger S60 sedan, and it stands more than 2 inches shorter at 56 inches tall. The S40 is slightly longer than the Toyota Corolla at 177.8 inches overall. A trademark Volvo grille with chrome vertical bars sits up front. Character lines run through the hood and along the bodysides like those on Volvos models.
Front occupants get bucket seats, and three-point seat belts are installed for all five seating positions. Cloth seating is standard, and leather upholstery and a power sunroof are offered as optional equipment. The S40s cargo volume is 13.2 cubic feet, and the three-place, 70/30-split rear seat folds to produce additional cargo space. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, power windows and door locks, cruise control, a cassette player and an immobilizer theft-deterrent system.
Under the Hood
A turbocharged, 170-horsepower, 1.9-liter four-cylinder engine mates with a five-speed-automatic transmission. Volvo claims the S40 can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds.
Antilock brakes, curtain-type airbags and side-impact airbags for the front seats are standard. Volvos Whiplash Protection System moves the front seats rearward during a collision.
Nearly all the pleasures of driving a bigger Volvo can be found in the S40 sedan or V40 wagon, but for a markedly lower price. Those benefits include a generally satisfying ride, precise handling, quiet and refined behavior, energetic performance and an overall sense of solidity.