2005 V50 New Car Test Drive
The Volvo S40 is all-new. It comes loaded with features for a very competitive price. For starters, the base price of $24,190 is $510 less than the current S40. Standard equipment includes a 2.4-liter five-cylinder engine, curtain and side-impact airbags, projector-type headlamps, and ABS with EBD, which electronically balances the braking.
Volvo says the primary engineering challenge was to get the same safety in the S40's small package that's in the flagship S80 sedan. To that end It has been designed using something called VIVA, for Volvo Intelligent Vehicle Architecture. What appears to be an unprecedented amount of time, research, testing and detail has gone 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 S40 was launched as a 2004 1/2 model in January 2004, but it's essentially a 2005 model. The previous S40 line (2004 and older) was vast and the new S40 line will likewise grow over the next couple of years. The all-new 2004 1/2 models come with front-wheel drive and a five-speed automatic; 2005 models offer all-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox as well. Also available for 2005: a V50 sport wagon.
The new S40 looks like a sports sedan, particularly when fitted with the optional 17-inch Saggita alloy wheels. The design is clean and elegant, Scandinavian simplicity. Inside, the S40 represents a sharp departure from previous Volvo designs, and the new interior is comfortable and convenient.
On the road, the S40 is stable and relaxed. Even at high speeds, it can easily run with expensive sedans from BMW and Mercedes. The turbocharged T5 engine is wonderfully smooth, with 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 all-new Volvo S40 is a superb sports sedan.
The Volvo S40 is available as two models:
The 2.4i ($24,190) uses a new five-cylinder inline engine making 168 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque at 4400 rpm, on premium fuel. It comes with a five-speed automatic transmission, but a five-speed manual will also be available. Standard equipment includes air conditioning and power windows and door locks, stability traction control (STC), 16-inch alloy wheels, remote entry, in-dash CD system and theft-deterrent system. The Premium option package ($2,295) includes leather upholstery, power moonroof, electronic climate control and power seats. The Sport option package ($750) includes dynamic suspension, sport alloy wheels, foglights and seating surfaces in a handsome durable outdoorsy material developed for Volvo called T-Tec. A premium sound system with 6-CD player is optional ($850).
The T5 ($26,990) uses 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 foglights, a power driver's seat and the T-Tec seating surfaces. It comes standard with a five-speed automatic, but a superb six-speed close-ratio gearbox will also be available. Option packages for the T5 are almost the same as for the 2.4i, except the Sport package alloy wheels are 17-inch, with 205/50R/17 performance tires, a steal given the suspension upgrades and the beauty of those wheels. Only the T5 will offer the availability of all-wheel drive.
Stand-alone options for both models include electronic stability control (Volvo calls theirs DSTC for Dynamic Stability and Traction Control) for $695, metallic paint ($450), the power moonroof ($1200), and bi-xenon headlamps ($700).
Basic warranty is four years/50,000 miles. Even better: Volvo pays for factory schedule maintenance for first three years/36,000 miles.