Many of you commenting on the first day's post about the Volvo S40 brought up the relation to the Mazda 3. While the two share a lot of the same parts they are two distinct cars. They drive very differently, offer different amenities, engines, style etc.

That said, would I personally spend $27,000 on a S40 over a Mazda 3?

Probably not. But then again I don?t have to, I drive a new car every week. I?m not saying that to be rude but that could cloud judgment and influence a journalist to always pick the more expensive auto. But I?m writing for the people that will be spending their own money. If you?ve driven both and find you like both for their own unique style etc. then no, I don?t see why you?d buy the Volvo. But what the Volvo offers besides the safety features are European style, elegance and status.

And while that may sound silly it is a big factor. In that regard I?d want to compare it more to the Audi A4 and Acura TSX and not the Mazda3. The fact that I found the Mazda3 s? engine a bit peppier with manual transmission than I do the Volvo is another issue. I?m not in love with the engine here. The handling is superb however and I think with the T5 and AWD options the Volvo steps it up more than a few notches and dollars.

S40 LegroomBut overall I?m in sticker shock too. I thought the Acura TSX was a phenomenal car at a great price with every feature imaginable at the $27,000 mark. The Volvo?s interior is a little classier but isn?t any roomier. I had four people in the S40 last night and the small rear passengers were cramped. These pictures should give you a feel for what it?s like to ride in back. The second one is the actual ?legroom? that is always mentioned in reviews.

I do really like the materials still and the ride is certainly pleasing enough. I?m just not in love yet.

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