Volvos compact V40 wagon and its S40 sedan companion have earned a mild freshening for the 2003 model year. Modifications include a new grille, headlight surrounds and body-colored molding. A new three-spoke steering wheel is installed, and a CD player is now standard.
Even though the V40 is offered in a single basic model, it is available with a Premium or Sport option package. Sport-edition wagons feature front and rear spoilers, front fog lamps, alloy wheels, cloth and leather sport seats, and aluminum accents.
Volvo steers the S40/V70 duo 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 compacts were developed prior to Fords takeover.
Like other Volvos, the S40 and V40 emphasize safety. The standard side curtain-type airbags, for instance, extend from the front roof pillar to the rear pillar and drop down from above the windows in side collisions.
The V40s styling is closely related to other Volvo products. 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 moonroof is optional.
Measuring 180.2 inches long overall, which is 2.4 inches longer than the S40 sedan, the V40 wagon rides a 100.9-inch wheelbase. Both body styles are 67.6 inches wide and 56 inches tall. The V40 is 7.6 inches shorter in wheelbase and 5.2 inches shorter overall than Volvos midsize V70 wagon. Standard tires measure 15 inches in diameter, and 16-inch Galactica alloy wheels are offered as an option.
Cloth seating is standard, and leather upholstery is optional. Front occupants get bucket seats, while the rear passengers have a 70/30-split, folding seat. Three-point seat belts are installed for all five seating positions, and integrated rear child-safety seats are available. With both sides of the backseat folded down, cargo volume totals 61.3 cubic feet. With the seat upright, that space drops to 33.5 cubic feet. Both a cargo net and a cargo cover are included. Narrow rear doors make entry and exit a little difficult.
Standard equipment includes automatic air conditioning, remote keyless entry, cruise control, a CD and cassette player, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel and an alarm.
Under the Hood
Volvos turbocharged, 1.9-liter four-cylinder engine is rated at 170 horsepower and teams with a five-speed-automatic transmission.
Antilock brakes and side-impact airbags for the front seats are standard. Curtain-type airbags extend from the front roof pillar to the rear pillar and drop down from above the side windows in a side crash. Volvos Whiplash Protection System moves the front seats rearward in a collision. In an impact, the front airbags deploy at one of two levels depending on crash severity.
Nearly all of the pleasures of driving a larger Volvo can be found in the V40, but at a substantially lower price. That appealing list includes a generally satisfying ride, precise handling, quiet and refined behavior, energetic performance and an overall sensation of solidity.