When it went on sale in spring 2004 as a 2004.5 model, the latest version of the S40 compact sedan was a little shorter, wider and taller than its predecessor — and aimed more clearly at a younger audience. The 2004.5 model was billed by the Swedish automaker as "new from the ground up."
Safety and crashworthiness are principal themes for the S40, which includes a stiff body and side-impact and side curtain-type airbags. Starting in 2005, the T5 edition could be fitted with all-wheel drive.
Steering-wheel audio controls become standard in the 2.4i model for 2006. All S40s have a simplified package and option structure. Cupholders have been improved. T5 models with the six-speed-manual transmission gain a "pushdown" function to engage Reverse gear. The S40 is manufactured in Belgium.
Although it has more interior volume than the previous S40 and rides a longer wheelbase, the current sedan is 2.2 inches shorter overall. Styling did not veer dramatically away from the prior generation. An upright grille with a diagonal cross-member, a V-shaped hood and large wraparound taillights are installed. Turn signals are integrated into the door mirrors, and the S40's shoulders — which run along the bodyside cladding — enhance its kinship to other Volvo models.
Alloy wheels hold standard 16-inch tires, but 17-inchers are available. A rear spoiler and pronounced sill moldings can be installed. Built on a 103.9-inch wheelbase, the S40 is 175.9 inches long overall.
Standard upholstery in the five-occupant interior is said to be inspired by sportswear accessories. The rear seatbacks fold down separately, and the front passenger seat has a folding backrest. Two round gauges on the instrument cluster are surrounded by metal bezels. Leather upholstery is available.
Standard 2.4i equipment includes air conditioning, power windows, a CD audio system, remote-control central locking, a leather-wrapped tilt/telescoping steering wheel and an audio theft-deterrent system. The T5 sedan adds a power driver's seat, electronic climate control, a trip computer and aluminum interior trim. An optional Premium Package for the T5 includes leather seating surfaces, a power sunroof and a power passenger seat. Trunk space totals 12.6 cubic feet.
Under the Hood
A 2.4-liter inline-five-cylinder that produces 168 horsepower powers the 2.4i. High-performance T5 editions hold a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-five-cylinder that generates 218 hp at 5,000 rpm and 236 pounds-feet of torque. The 2.4i comes standard with a five-speed-manual transmission, while the T5 uses a six-speed manual. Both models can be equipped with a five-speed automatic that includes Geartronic operation for manually selected gear changes.
All-disc antilock brakes, side-impact airbags and side curtain-type airbags are standard. Dynamic Stability and Traction Control is optional.
Even when equipped with the automatic transmission, the S40 accelerates with some spirit, though the engine growls when pushed. Despite a taut suspension, ride comfort is generally satisfactory, but the sedan can hit some bumps rather hard.
Stable on the road, the S40 maneuvers easily and delivers appealing control. Curves produce only modest body lean, and the sedan corners crisply. Driveline whine is noticeable at times. Despite ample cushioning, drivers tend to sit on top of the seat rather than in it.