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Volvo has done an amazing job redesigning their small S40 sedan. The new model has better lines, a snub nosed front end and is just plain sexier than past versions. And who ever thought a Volvo could be sexy. There are a variety of options available that allow for a turbo and all-wheel drive. Our tester however is the plain Jane of the line, a 2.4 inline 5-cylinder, normally aspirated engine with standard front-wheel drive, 5-speed automatic transmission with Geartronic shifting and 168 horses.

With those numbers the car is very similar in specs to the Mazda 3s.

The differences of course are the Volvo body with all the safety and improved rigidity. While the 3 is also more rigid than the previous Prot?g?, the S40 certainly feels more substantial when slamming the doors. The interior reminds me of a modern art museum. The slender center stack is a thing of beauty and is by far the most intriguing feature. That may be because everything else is so strikingly sleek and unobtrusive. 

Volvo Center StackThe materials, especially the ?T-Tec? seating material that basically feels like a softer version of a wetsuit, are practical and easy on the eyes. The ceiling liner, door panels and carpet are as nice as an entry-level luxury car gets but much of the plastic is sub-par especially on the shifter. Large seams stick out of the shifter and are irritating, a detail that should not be overlooked in a car with a $27,275 sticker.

We?ll have to see how the car performs of course before bringing down judgment, but at first glance we?re wondering why we wouldn?t be in a fully equipped Acura TSX for the same price.

Suggested Retail: $22,990

Metallic Paint: $450
Sport Package: $750
w/Synamic Sport Suspension, 16 inch aluminum wheels, fog lights
Automatic Geartronic Transmission: $1,200
Power Moonroof: $1,200

Total: $27,275

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