2007 Volvo S40 Expert Review:Autoblog
We in this country often complain that Europeans get their pick of fun-to-drive, premium compact cars while we’re force fed SUVs and full-size trucks. The Volvo S40 is a rolling rebuttal to that argument. Europeans, however, have become accustomed to paying a premium for small cars that perform, handle and feel like a luxury car. Are North Americans ready to pay for the kind of small car they desire from afar, or is the grass growing in the cracks of the other guy’s parking lot just greener?
Can a potent powerplant, all-wheel drive, Volvo’s reputation for safety and the S40’s attractive styling make a convincing case for a compact car that costs over thirty-thousand clams? Let’s crank the S40’s odd little plastic key and find out…
Click sticker for readable highrez version
The Volvo S40 can be had in mild mannered 2.4i trim for around $24K, though Volvo sent us a range-topping T5 AWD model that starts at $28,715. Our tester had every option box short of a moonroof and DVD nav system checked, which revved the price up to around $33K. (Cough, cough… ahem) That’s thirty-three grand for a sedan built on the same C1 platform as the $15-$20K Mazda3. The Mazda3 is arguably the best sub-$20K sedan on the market and as much a threat to the S40 as the Acura TSX and Audi A4 despite their diverging lineage. The Acura and Audi meanwhile are the two most oft mentioned entry-level luxury sedans whispered in the same breath as our sporting Swede.
Out of the aforementioned group of competing sports sedans (see an Edmunds comparison here), the Volvo S40 T5 AWD stacks up very well producing the superlative output of the bunch with its 218-hp turbocharged 2.5L inline-five engine with variable valve timing. While the Audi A4 can be had with a 3.2L V6, we instead chose to face off with the 2.0T model that packs a 200-hp turbocharged four, though we did opt for the Quattro all-wheel drive.
The offset of tenacious traction via AWD is weight, and our Volvo and the Audi A4 are a lot heavier than the Acura TSX and especially the Mazda3. The Volvo S40 T5 AWD at 3,447 lbs. is certainly a bit husky for its class, but it wears its weight like a much larger vehicle. The S40 looks like the larger S60 accidentally shrunk in the wash. The leading edge of the hood and the rear deck are both high off the ground and Volvo’s trademark side “shoulders” are present here, all of which led to us giving the S40 a new nickname: the Raging Warthog. Just like those wild pigs with ample incisors, the S40 is small in dimension but big in stature. The design exudes large car confidence from its small body. So despite being no larger than the Mazda3, the Volvo S40 makes you feel like you’re driving something bigger and better than an econobox.
Our particular car was also laden with Volvo’s Dynamic Trim package, a $1,895 bundle of body kit baubles we would normally forego. The add-ons include front and rear spoilers, a lower rear valance, side sills and lower door edge moldings. The frosting on the cake is a set of 17-inch SCOTIA alloy wheels. These mega multi-spoke wheels usher the S40 T5 into boy racer territory and fetch more than a few unsolicited glances from teenagers driving around in ten-year old Hondas. Volvo offers an impressive number of six different wheels design for the S40, all of which we happen to prefer over the expensive SCOTIA rims. Go figure.
Volvo designers have made an artform out of successfully reinventing the box and this iteration of the S40 is perhaps our most favorite until the new S80 arrives later this year. The protruding Volvo grille with its flat front flanked by a pair of deeply offset headlamp clusters containing projector lamp low beams is much more distinctive than the Mazda3’s windswept fascia, but cars don’t sell on looks alone. Stay tuned as we review the content’s of Volvo’s voluptuous box and flog the Raging Warthog on the paved plains of suburbia.
Some automakers do things differently just to be different. Volvo is one of those brands, and the interior of the S40 bears out the company’s antiestablishment ways. From the ultra-slim center console to the Dynamic T-Tec seating material to the vertically stacked stereo and HVAC controls, it’s clear the interior of the S40 has been developed by designers who march to the beat of a different drum.
But a vehicle’s interior is a driver’s domicile, and since more time is spent inside a vehicle staring at gauges, buttons and dials than taking-in exteriors, it’s of extreme importance that an interior function as well as it looks. After a few days inhabiting the S40 we’ve come up with some conclusions on whether or not Volvo’s earned a payoff for being different inside the S40.
From the moment you slam the door shut on the S40, your senses are triggered by a different environment than what you might be used to. The seats, for instance, are upholstered in what Volvo calls Dynamic T-Tec, a material more premium than cloth that feels a bit like neoprene, the stuff out of which wetsuits are made. It’s a nice diversion from leather, and in concert with the front seats’ sufficient bolstering does well holding driver and passenger in place.
Once settled its time to take inventory of the dash and center console, the latter of which bisects the former with what fellow Autoblogger Chris Paukert called a “free-floating aluminum ribbon” back in a review he did of another S40 T5 (sans AWD) on The Truth About Cars. The center ribbon breaks away from the dash and leaves a void of space behind itself in which various sundries can be stowed. We were totally smitten with this design element, as simple as it is. The slot-loading drive of the CD player is placed high enough on the ribbon to take advantage of the dash’s depth, but the stereo and HVAC controls, neither of which require a deep recess, seem as if they’ve been playfully stuck to the aluminum center console like magnets on a fridge.
If only they were magnets so we could arrange them in a way that better facilitated their use. As they are the center sliver of buttons and four large dials take some getting used to. While someone who reads hiragana, katakana and kanji might find their vertical layout comforting, us non-Japanese speaking folk prefer our order of action to flow from left to right (read: horizontally).
Though it’s odd to see a telephone number pad front and center, the 10-station preset (without the use of submenus) was much appreciated. The HVAC system is operated via two large knobs that control temperature and fan speed, while stabbing your finger at a minimalist depiction of the human form will direct the flow of air. Some in the comments of our first post rightly point out that any aftermarket modification of the stereo is nixed thanks the center console’s unusual design, which is just another example of how the S40 tends to err on the side of form over function.
The S40’s big backsize means that trunk space is decent. The back end packs in 12.6 cubic, more than the Mazda3 but less than the Audi and Acura models. We appreciated the trunk’s flush floor, which hides the spare, though the lack of a dip-down sacrifices a few cubes of grocery room.
Another niggle we had with the S40’s insides were the diminutive door handles that only allow two fingers to slip behind their short bars. While circus folk and other people with small hands might appreciate their Lilliputian scale, the tiny door handles only serve to aggravate one’s egress from the vehicle.
Much has also been said in the comments of our last post about the S40’s interior space and the amount of elbowroom available, specifically when compared with the volume inside the “larger” Volvo S60. As evident by a side-by-side from Edmunds, it’s true that the S40 and S60 are extremely close in terms of interior dimensions. The S40 manages its space much more efficiently than the S60, which is both longer and wider than its little ‘bro. The S40 also feels bigger inside than it looks outside, but that’s not to say it isn’t snug. One man’s snug, however, is another’s “just right”, so you’ll have to sit in an S40 to judge for yourself.
So... does the S40’s interior help the car’s cause or set it back in its pursuit to win the hearts and minds of small car fans around the world? We give the Swedes credit here for imbuing the S40 with a little style inside, although it’s clear that Volvo sometimes favors being different for its own sake, rather than for its customers. Those quirky touches and unique design elements are what build brand identity, however, and Volvo has been successful at cultivating an image that not only encompasses its heritage of safety, but also its penchant for beating a new path.
Much has been made in the comments about how much (or how little) the Volvo S40 and Mazda3 have in common. We think one particular comment by an Autoblog reader named Mike sums up our feelings on this debate: “Any comparison between the two must be coming from the unfamiliar.” It’s true, these two cars share a platform and various components but the job done differentiating them is far from badge reengineering. Their relationship is less Ford Five Hundred to Mercury Montego than it is Audi A4 to Volkswagen Jetta. We’re talking more than a new grille and taillamps here.
The C1 chassis certainly cleans up well wearing Volvo’s stubby-yet-strong proportions and Scandinavian interior, but does the S40’s on-pavement prowess finally settle any qualms created by its potentially $30k-plus pricetag?
The core of the S40’s fun factor can be found in its turbocharged 2.5L five-cylinder engine that produces 218 horsepower and 236 ft-lbs. of torque. Going with an odd number of cylinders is again one of those quirky, dare-to-be-different traits for which Volvo is well known, especially considering such engines in the past had a reputation for being unbalanced and thrashy.
Those characteristics cannot be applied to Volvo’s five-pot powerplant, which exhibits little harshness in its operation. In fact, for a sporty sedan the S40 T5 is remarkably quiet with engine noise a distant hum until WOT is applied. Volvo’s addition of a light-pressure turbo makes this powerplant feel like a torquey V6 under your toes with all of its 236 ft-lbs. of torque available at a low 1500 rpm. There’s a whisper of turbo lag but the turbine’s relatively small size ensures there’s no whiplash when it comes online.
Our tester’s fuel mileage is rated at 20 city/29 highway, which isn’t bad considering the extra 130 lbs. added by the all-wheel drive system and various other gravity-challenged safety and luxury amenities. Total tonnage is up to 3,447 lbs. for the T5 AWD model, about 169 lbs. more than FWD T5.
Speaking of that AWD system, it’s a bit of a misnomer as the majority of time power is being routed almost entirely to the front wheels. During our dry week with the S40 T5 AWD the car exhibited all the normal FWD tendencies with understeer occurring when the car was pushed in corners. The AWD system is not a performance feature of the S40 T5, but rather a safety feature meant for sure footing in inclement weather. Though the 130 lb. penalty for its presence isn’t severe, those seeking the fastest S40 should opt for the non-AWD model with the six-speed manual.
Our S40 came with said six-speed manual transmission, an inclusion about which we were a bit conflicted. Given the choice we’ll always go standard, but the S40’s clutch was either instant-on or instant-off, which made enjoying the slick shifting six-speed a rarity. With practice the clutch can be mastered, but if you break concentration before the light turns green expect a jolt when leaving the line.
Once underway the tractable engine offers up power in a wide swath and shifting around 4,000 rpm under WOT generates a satisfying surge into the next gear. The S40 T5 AWD gets a tighter suspension than the 2.4i model with anti-roll bars front and aft that control the car well enough in the curves. The speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering is accurate as well, though at around-town speeds the power assist disconnects the driver too much from the road.
Though we’ve dialed back any expectations of the S40 T5 AWD being a thoroughbred sports sedan, it excelled in another area we weren’t expecting. On the highway at cruising speed (or above) the T5 AWD behaves like a car with a much longer wheelbase. The small sedan tracts straight and true while hardly flinching at crosswinds, and the suspension’s ability to soak up broken pavement was a surprise.
All this still begs the question whether or not the essence of an S40 could be found in a Mazda3 for $10k less. We think not, as the Volvo’s 2.5T five-cylinder, all-wheel drive capability, and suspension tuning cannot be had in Mazda’s take on the C1 platform. But wait, here comes the MazdaSpeed3 with a 250-hp 2.3T four-cylinder, six-speed stick from the MazdaSpeed6 and a price tag that will likely fall between $23k and $25k. Though the MazdaSpeed3 lacks all-wheel drive, the Volvo system didn’t convince us that it was worth the extra outlay anyway. In any case, with the advent of the MazdaSpeed3 we’re thinking Volvo's best move would be to create an S40R in the low $30k range that offers a similar or better level of performance as its sport compact sibling from Mazda with more safety, luxury and technology. We've found the range-topping S40 T5 AWD to be a good car for its price, but it'd be even better if the sticker stayed below $30k.
New Car Test Drive
Safe and superb sedans and sport wagons.
The Volvo S40 continues to enhance Volvo's reputation as a maker of superb sports sedans. The S40 looks and acts like a sports sedan. The Volvo V50 is the wagon version and our impressions carry over here. The V50 looks like a sport wagon and drives like one, which is to say it drives just like the sedan.
Volvo is a leader in safety engineering and it's clear the company put a lot of effort into building a structure designed to protect its occupants. The S40 and V50 models come loaded with active and passive safety features to help drivers avoid accidents, then protect them if there is a crash. This may be the safest car in this size class. Smaller than most luxury sedans, the S40 is much easier to park in tight spaces and it's easier to maneuver on narrow roads.
On the open road, the S40 and V50 are stable and relaxed. They can easily run with the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class, even at high speeds.
The S40 T5 comes with a turbocharged engine that's wonderfully smooth, offering quick but linear acceleration performance. The entry-level 2.4i engine feels nearly as quick and is just as smooth. The five-speed automatic is smooth and responsive. The suspension is firm but not jarring, offering an ideal balance of ride and handling, and the brakes are excellent.
The design is clean and elegant, Scandinavian simplicity. Inside, the S40 represents a sharp departure from previous Volvo designs, but above all is comfortable and full of convenience features.
New for 2007: Dynamic Stability Traction Control comes standard on all models. All 2007 models get a new overhead console. Volvo V50 and S40 T5 models come standard with the five-speed automatic Geartronic engine. Options packages have been revised.
The Volvo S40 2.4i ($24,240) and V50 2.4i ($26,690) use a five-cylinder engine making 168 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque at 4400 rpm, on premium fuel. The S40 2.4i comes standard with a five-speed manual, and an optional five-speed automatic transmission called the Geartronic with an Auto-Stick that allows clutchless manual shifting. The V50 2.4i has the five-speed Geartronic as standard equipment.
Standard equipment includes air conditioning and power windows and door locks, cruise control, leather steering wheel with audio controls, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, 16-inch alloy wheels, remote entry, in-dash CD system, theft-deterrent system and two cup holders in the center tunnel console and two in the rear seat armrest.
The Select option package (S40 $1,975; V50 $2,025) includes an eight-way power adjustable driver's seat, power tilt/slide sunroof, a premium Dolby Pro-Logic surround sound stereo system with six-disc in-dash CD changer and 12 speakers, a trip computer, simulated wood inlays, and for 2007, auxiliary input and MP3 capability. The Sport option package ($875) includes Dynamic suspension, and sport alloy wheels. A Climate package ($675) includes rain-sensor wipers, heated front seats, and headlamp washers. Stand-alone options include a variety of metallic paints, five-speed automatic for the S40 ($1,250), leather seating surfaces ($1,200), dual integrated child booster seats ($300) for the V50, and Sirius satellite radio ($295). New for 2007 is a Body Styling package ($1,195) with front, rear and trunk-mounted spoilers, side skirts and lower door edge molding.
The S40 T5 ($28,390) and V50 T5 ($29,590) use a slightly larger 2.5-liter turbocharged version of the engine, making 218 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque over the wide range of 1500 to 4800 rpm. The T5 adds as standard equipment fog lights, a power driver's seat, leather gearshift knob, and trip computer. Standard are 16-inch alloy wheels; 17-inch alloys are optional. For 2007 both models come standard with the five-speed Geartronic automatic, which replaces the six-speed manual transmission.
Option packages for the T5 include a Premium package (S40 $2,350; V50 $2,395) with a power tilt/slide glass sunroof, leather seating surfaces, eight-way power adjustable passenger seat with lumbar support, and memory for the power driver seat. For 2007 the Premium package adds an auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and Homelink transmitter. The appropriately named Dynamic Trim package ($1,995) increases the dynamics and the dynamic look of this model with a front chin spoiler, rear lower valance spoiler, trunk-mounted spoiler, side skirts, and 17-inch Scotia alloy wheels. For 2007 Volvo adds the Dynamic suspension to this package along with a sport steering wheel and gearshift knob. The Audio package ($895) includes a 325-watt Dolby Pro-Logic II surround sound system with 12 speakers and an in-dash six-disc CD player. A Climate package ($675) includes rain-sensor wipers, heated front seats, and headlamp washers. Stand-alone options are similar to the base car's except for the notable additions of bi-xenon headlamps ($700), DVD-based navigation system ($2,120). New stand-alone options for 2007 include Sirius satellite radio ($295), keyless drive ($450) and 17-inch Zaurak ($1,495) and Sagitta wheels ($550).
The S40 T5 AWD ($28,990) and V50 T5 AWD ($30,190) feature an electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system. T5 models come standard with a six-speed manual; the five-speed Geartronic automatic is optional ($1,250). The same packages and stand-alone options as above are available.
Safety is a top priority at Volvo, and all S40 sedan and V50 wagon models come with side curtain and side-impact airbags, projector-type headlamps, a rear fog light, and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution. The addition of Dynamic Stability Traction Control (DSTC) for the 2007 models adds some peace of mind to w.
The design of the Volvo S40 is lovely, subtle and original but mostly very clean: Scandinavian simplicity at its artistic best. Clearly, Volvo doesn't do boxes any more with its sedans. The S40 looks somewhat like an Audi A4 from a distance, and that's its competition, but when you look again you appreciate the unique soft snub nose. Form followed function, as short overall length was a primary engineering objective. Sexiness was a styling objective, and the S40 achieves both.
Rounded front corners (but mostly the engine package) enable this shortness, and the rear corners are pushed in as well, giving the S40 an overall stylish shape. The lack of chrome adds class, with the normal bits, from window trim to ding guards, all being black or body colored. The doors are slightly convex, as opposed to the previous concave shape, and high shoulders make occupants feel protected.
The S40 is a Volvo from any angle, but head-on it's unmistakable with its dark eggcrate grille with the diagonal Volvo slash in center. The headlamps bend horizontally from the sweetly flared fenders toward the grille, with three visible lamps: one rectangular, one round and one trapezoidal. The front air dam is divided by two splitters into three neat sections.
Viewed in profile, the sharp rear end and soft front end gives the car direction. The rocker panels are slightly wider in the rear, giving the illusion of forward rake and more motion. More dramatically, the sloping roofline quickly meets an abrupt and lipless rear deck; the distance between the bottom of the glass and the 90-degree edge of the deck is not much more than a foot. Yet all the lines, including the rear hips, cascade smoothly together. The optional alloy wheels look really good and add to the S40's presence.
Viewed from the rear, the license plate indent is clean, unlike many others. The smooth rear bumper rides over two stainless exhaust tips, pointing conspicuously and curiously down toward the ground; if they point down just to look cool, it works. The huge red taillights are trademark Volvo, each with a clear plastic band containing its backup light.
The V50 Sportwagon shares the attractive front styling of the S40 sedan. From the side, the wagon body style is achieved by simply extending the roof line and belt line back to the tail, with a slight diagonal angle from the roof down to the beltline. It's only from the rear that the V50 differs from the S40. Volvo has taken the same style of tail light, but then extended it up the side of the wagon all the way to the roof, giving the wagon a slightly awkward look from the rear. The only consolation is that the tall tail lights may help warn drivers behind you when stopping quickly.
Volvo's primary goal for the S40 was to stuff the levels of safety found in the flagship S80 luxury sedan into the S40's small package. To that end it was designed using something called VIVA, for Volvo Intelligent Vehicle Architecture. What appears to be an unprecedented amount of time, research, testing and detail went into the construction of the chassis and body in the interest of crash protection. There are several zones of deformation upon impact, built with different strengths of steel depending on that zone's function: conventional, high strength, extra high strength and ultra high strength steel.
The interior of the Volvo S40 and V50 models looks great. It's also intuitive and easy to use.
The seats are comfortable. The instrument panel is clean and simple and workmanlike, with a big speedometer and tachometer, white numbers on a black background with red needles.
The center stack is only an inch thick, like a computer monitor with a flat screen. Behind it is a storage bin. Simple, clever, practical, handsome, Swedish. You have to reach around the back of the stack to gain access to that shallow storage space, but it's better to have it than to waste it because there is a distinct lack of cubby storage in this car. The center stack curves gracefully upward behind the beautifully minimalist shift lever to link the console with the instrument panel. One problem we had with the thin stack, however, is that during hard cornering, of which the S40 is eminently capable, our right knee rode hard against the edge, and it hurt.
Audio, climate and other control buttons are arranged vertically. There are four round knobs at the corners. One of those knobs is a menu control that easily accesses more detailed information and controls. Above the buttons is an information screen.
The T5 comes with brushed aluminum interior trim, which is perfect from a style standpoint. Not too much and in all the right places, including the whole center stack. The 2.4i comes with dark wood trim, which isn't nearly as good-looking.
Storage space in the S40 is severely lacking, however. The center console has a tiny bin. The door pockets are thin with most of the space taken up by speakers. Mesh pockets are located on the leading edge of the seat bottom, in front of the driver and passenger seats, but most people won't notice or use them, though they will hold a cell phone. Everything is carefully compact in the interior, including the strong stubby door handles, easy to grab and pull. Two good cup holders forward of the center console work well.
The S40 and V50 are surprisingly roomy given the exterior dimensions, highlighting Volvo's efficient use of space. And Volvo has created intelligent ways to use that space, benefiting from some of the ideas gleaned from designing the XC90 SUV. The rear seat is a 60/40 split and the seatbacks open up to the trunk when dropped. The front seat folds as flat as the rears, creating an unprecedented open floor space and 38.4 cubic feet of cargo space, a lot for a small sedan.
The chopped-off rear end makes the trunk opening small, but it leads into a deep forward well, with 12.6 cubic feet of luggage space, about average for most mainstream sedans. Below the floor of the trunk is a space-saver spare tire and a first aid kit. The trunk lid was cleverly designed to open and close smoothly and easily.
The V50 wagon offers 27.4 cubic feet of luggage space with all seats upright, and a substantial 62.6 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats and the front passenger seat folded down, which compares favorably to many mid-size wagons by other manufacturers.
Volvo leads the auto industry in environmental awareness, and there's an emphasis on environmentally compatible cabin materials and systems, such as trim materials with low PVC content.
We've driven all the S40 and V50 models, with the 2.4i normally aspirated engine and with the T5 turbocharged engine. We found the 2.4i models an excellent choice for drivers who want a safe car with excellent driving dynamics but don't demand a lot of power. The T5 adds to this package with better acceleration performance and handling.
We were impressed at how well the base 2.4i held its own against the T5. The 2.4i model offers a nice balance of ride and handling. It's smooth and delivers adequate power though not enough for some drivers. Mash the pedal all the way down, though, and it delivers decent acceleration performance. The 2.4i is a modern dual-overhead-cam engine with variable camshaft timing. This model responds well in corners yet soaks up bumps well.
The turbocharged engine in the T5 version is wonderfully smooth. Its acceleration is quick and linear, with a broad power curve allowing it to evenly gain speed throughout the rev range. At 80 miles per hour, with the five-speed automatic transmission, it's only loafing along at 2500 rpm, so there's a lot of power to spare. The T5 is comfortable at high speed, very stable and relaxed, something we found on some wide-open California desert roads. The T5 feels ready and eager for spirited driving. This is one small car that can be a great highway cruiser, able to run with BMWs, Mercedes and Audis. It was so stable at high speeds it didn't feel like a front-wheel-drive car.
We couldn't have been happier with the electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission. The upshift from fourth to fifth gear was so smooth that we only knew it was happening by observing the tachometer needle drop. The automatic features a manual shift mode called Geartronic, and in the manual mode, it actually let us control what gear we wanted to be in, without stepping in and overriding our wishes.
We drove for a stretch at 30-40 mph over a terrible surface with a lot of big rough patches, and the suspension felt firm but never jarring. We could feel the wheels moving, but it wasn't getting to our hands or the seat of or pants, or the body of the car. We drove up into the mountains over a fast, smooth and winding road, with lots of hard braking and abrupt changing of direction. In that situation the suspension approached its limit and stiffer would have been nice; but that situation was already faster than 95 percent of drivers will take even the T5. The S40 suspension wasn't made for that, as it shouldn't be; if it were, it would have been uncomfortable on the slower and rougher surface. Every suspension has a range, and the S40's range is right on the money.
The Dynamic Sport Suspension option has slightly stiffer springs and bushings for sharper handling. We found the ride to be punishing when we drove a V50 with the Dynamic Sport Suspension and 17-inch wheels. With a standard suspension that turns in and hugs the road as well as this one does, it doesn't seem to make sense to pay more for a stiffer, less comfortable ride.
The steering is electro-hydraulic with light, distinct and controlled feedback. It feels firm and tight, offering the right amount of resistance. The torque steer normally inherent in front-wheel-drive cars was minimal to the point of insignificance.
We used the brakes a lot, and they were strong, smooth and true. The ventilated discs are plenty big for the size of the car, at 11.8 inches front and 10.9 inches rear. We performed a panic stop at 75 mph, and the ABS dragged the car to a stop in a direct and confidence-inspiring manner.
The Volvo S40 is a superior small sedan. The body and chassis boasts excellent crashworthiness, and the size is both compact outside and spacious inside. Its smooth exterior lines are distinctive, even unique, and beautiful. There are many good new cars nowadays for $25,000, but if you went down the list comparing features, qualities and components, the Volvo S40 would be difficult to beat. Upgrading to the T5 with its turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine puts you into the same levels of performance as the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class, and Audi A4. The V50 packages all this into a practical sport wagon.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Sam Moses filed this report from California; with Mitch McCullough reporting from Charlottesville, Virginia.
Volvo S40 2.4i ($23,755); T5 ($26,615), T5 AWD ($28,390); V50 2.4i ($26,205); T5 ($27,840); T5 AWD ($29,615).
Options As Tested
five-speed automatic transmission ($1,250); Body Styling Package ($1,195) includes front chin spoiler, rear lower-valance spoiler, trunk mounted spoiler, and side skirts.
Volvo S40 2.4i ($24,240).
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