Volvos compact S40 sedan and its V40 wagon companion got a mild freshening in 2003 and are available in three new colors for 2004. A new Limited Sport Edition package is now offered and includes 16-inch Crater alloy wheels, a moonroof, a power drivers seat, front and rear spoilers, leather seating surfaces, stainless-steel scuff plates and front fog lamps. Only 2,500 of the Limited Sport Edition models will be produced.
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.
Even though the S40s 100.9-inch wheelbase is 6 inches shorter than that of Volvos larger S60 sedan, it measures only 2.4 inches shorter overall. At 177.8 inches long, the S40 is slightly shorter than the Toyota Corolla and stands 56 inches tall. 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 larger models. A power glass moonroof is optional.
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 optional. Trunk space equals 13.2 cubic feet, and the three-place 70/30-split rear seat folds to yield additional cargo room. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, power windows and locks, cruise control, a CD player and an immobilizer theft-deterrent system. In addition to the new Limited Sport Edition package, Volvo offers Sport and Premium option groups.
Under the Hood
A 170-horsepower, turbocharged 1.9-liter four-cylinder engine develops 177 pounds-feet of torque. It mates with a five-speed adaptive automatic transmission that tailors performance characteristics to the drivers style. Volvo claims the S40 can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds.
Antilock brakes, side curtain-type airbags and side-impact airbags for the front seats are standard. Volvos Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS) moves the front seats rearward during a collision. An optional Dynamic Stability Assistance system reduces torque when it detects a loss of traction.
Nearly all of the pleasures of driving a bigger Volvo can be found in the S40 sedan and V40 wagon, but for a markedly lower price. Those benefits include a generally satisfying ride, precise handling, quiet and refined behavior, and rather energetic performance. Interior space is more limited, but the S40s overall sense of solidity is comparable to that of other Volvo models.