The swoopy Swede

Volvo did away with straight lines to en­ter the mid-size sedan fray

Herald Sun - Motoring - - USED CAR - with Gra­ham Smith

NEW

Fol­low­ing the surge in in­ter­est in mid-size sedans, pre­dom­i­nantly from Ja­pan, Euro­pean makers joined in. Volvo’s en­try was the S40, which cut the mus­tard with com­pet­i­tive pric­ing and a long list of stan­dard fea­tures.

Gone was the straight­edged styling of the past — in its place the S40 boasted a new sweep­ing pro­file that gave it a much more con­tem­po­rary look.

The four-door range had the petrol-en­gined S and LE, turbo diesel D5 and hot T5.

In­side, the new cabin lay­out was also pleas­ing and com­fort­able, al­though rear pas­sen­gers would have found it wasn’t as roomy as some ri­vals.

The 2.5-litre five-cylin­der petrol en­gine lacked a lit­tle in low-end torque but com­pen­sated with strong midrange — it was both will­ing and flex­i­ble if revved.

The turbo diesel, also a 2.5litre five-cylin­der, not only gave you more torque for bet­ter pulling per­for­mance, but also cut your fuel bills.

In the per­for­mance T5 with all-wheel drive, the five­cylin­der turbo de­liv­ered 162kW/320Nm.

Most S40 buy­ers chose the five-speed auto trans­mis­sion over the man­ual op­tions.

Ever a leader in safety, Volvo en­sured the S40’s five-star rat­ing with a com­pre­hen­sive ar­ray of equip­ment in­clud­ing front, side and head airbags, anti-lock brakes, trac­tion con­trol and sta­bil­ity con­trol.

Fur­ther, the ex­em­plary dy­namic safety came by virtue of pre­cise steer­ing, finely bal­anced han­dling and high lev­els of grip.

NOW

Own­ers are on the whole happy with their S40s and feel they have been re­warded with its per­for­mance and re­li­a­bil­ity.

Few have had is­sues with the car and noth­ing ma­jor has been re­ported, which should give po­ten­tial buy­ers con­fi­dence when shop­ping.

Check for a ser­vice record, one that is from a me­chanic fa­mil­iar with the brand.

Reg­u­lar oil changes are a key to keep­ing all cars in fine fet­tle, so it’s cru­cial the rec­om­mended ser­vice sched­ule is main­tained.

Most S40s will have reached the spec­i­fied dis­tance for a tim­ing belt change, so check the ser­vice record to con­firm that it has been done.

It’s worth also talk­ing to a Volvo spe­cial­ist me­chanic to get an opin­ion on the con­di­tion of any car you’re con­sid­er­ing buy­ing. Such me­chan­ics would likely be the best per­son to main­tain your car af­ter you’ve bought it — they charge less for their time than fac­tory deal­ers but usu­ally get hold of more af­ford­able parts.

There have been mi­nor re­calls. In 2008 there was one to check the cor­rect rear wheel studs were fit­ted; in 2010 it was re­called be­cause the gearshift could loosen, and the power seat could travel be­yond its max­i­mum limit; and in 2011 there was an is­sue with the head­light clean­ing pump.

OWN­ERS SAY

Deon Van Af­ter nine years my 2006 Volvo S40 2.4 is still as good as new. The doors close solidly, the paint is ex­cel­lent and it still feels tight. It’s also pretty quick if you use man­ual over­ride on gear changes and plenty of revs. On the down­side it’s slow to change down, which makes it feel slug­gish, it’s un­com­fort­able for rear pas­sen­gers and the fuel econ­omy is only av­er­age.

Peter Cheng: We’ve had our S40 since 2008 and it has been amaz­ingly re­li­able. We’ve never had any me­chan­i­cal is­sues and ser­vic­ing had been really af­ford­able at un­der $400 a year. I’d buy an­other Volvo just based on its re­li­a­bil­ity. Not so good is the en­gine, which feels slug­gish and is also a bit thirsty. It’s also a lit­tle squashy in the rear but all in all, we’re very happy with it.

Colin Shields: Buy­ing a fouryear-old used Volvo S40 with 85,000km was a great de­ci­sion. It now has done 140,000km and it’s been com­fort­able, safe and pre­dictable, with low cost and no break­downs. The five­cylin­der proved flex­i­ble and pow­er­ful and fun to drive.

Aaron Bradley: I love my T5 man­ual. I bought it a year ago as my first car and it’s awesome. It looks great in­side and out and I’ve never had any ma­jor me­chanic is­sues.

SMITHY SAYS

Safe, stylish, and gen­er­ally sound mid-sized af­ford­able sedan.

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