Blue oval Volvo
The Swedes built this nifty sedan under Ford ownership
AFTER years of safe, sensible, stodgy cars Volvo reinvigorated its range with a series of smart and stylish models.
The popular S40 compact sedan was a major part of that transformation after replacing the 440 in the late 1990s. An all-new S40 appeared in 2004 and it was a big step forward in both style and substance, with a responsive chassis (shared with Ford’s Focus and the Mazda3) and a diesel engine option.
Four models made up the range, starting with the entry level S, then the luxury LE, D5 diesel and sporty T5. They were smartly laid-out inside, with practical controls, comfortable seats and ample cabin space, although those in the rear seats might have felt a little cramped.
There were three engine options: 2.4-litre petrol, 2.4 turbo diesel and 2.5 turbo petrol. The base petrol engine delivered decent performance, the diesel stretched the distance between fuel stops nicely but the sparkling performer of the range was the turbo petrol T5, an engine still in service in Volvo’s C30.
Most of the range was frontwheel drive but later versions of the T5 had on-demand AWDvia a Haldex coupling.
If the engines delivered the zip, it was the chassis that delivered the real enjoyment with its nimble, surefooted handling that was light years ahead of the lumbering old Volvo of the recent past.
When we say road test a potential purchase, we don’t mean a quick thrash around the block but an extended evaluation taking in as many varied road and driving conditions as possible. Take it to a Volvo specialist for examination and check for a service record from a mechanic who is familiar the brand.
Many S40s will have passed or be fast approaching the time when the cam timing belt needs to be changed.
On earlier models that job was scheduled at 120,000km or eight years, later examples went out to 150,000km or 10 years.
An attractive midsized car that combines safety, features and good on-road performance at an affordable used price.
Smart mover: The S40 combines neat cabin layout with ample driveline options