2006 V50 New Car Test Drive
The Volvo S40 returns for its sophomore year with a number of minor changes to the three-model lineup, which continues to be loaded with features at competitive prices.
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.
When Volvo re-engineered the S40 for 2004, the primary goal was to stuff the same 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 S40 looks like a sports sedan, particularly when fitted with the newly designed optional 17-inch alloy wheels. The V50 is a straightforward wagon extension of that look. 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.
On the road, both body styles are stable and relaxed. Even at high speeds, the Volvos 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 S40 continues to enhance Volvo's reputation as a maker of superb sports sedans.
The Volvo S40 2.4i ($23,755) and V50 2.4i ($26,205) use a five-cylinder engine making 168 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque at 4400 rpm, on premium fuel. The 2.4i comes with a choice of five-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission called the Geartronic.
Standard equipment includes air conditioning and power windows and door locks, stability traction control, newly designed 16-inch alloy wheels, remote entry, in-dash CD system and theft-deterrent system. New for 2006 are improved cupholders, steering wheel audio controls, new exterior colors and simplified option structures.
The Select option package ($1,950) 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, and simulated wood inlays. The Sport option package ($875) includes Dynamic suspension, and sport alloy wheels. A Climate package ($675) is available for all models that includes rain-sensor wipers, heated front seats, and headlamp washers. Stand-alone options include a variety of metallic paints, Dynamic Stability and Traction Control ($695), five-speed automatic ($1,200), leather seating surfaces ($1,200), and dual integrated child booster seats ($300).
The S40 T5 ($26,615) and V50 T5 ($27,840) 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. It comes standard with a superb six-speed close-ratio gearbox, but a five-speed automatic is also available. New for 2006 includes those new elements of the base car plus several more, including a pushdown feature to engage reverse with the six-speed manual, newly designed 16-inch alloys and optional 17-inch alloys, a new stand-alone optional IAQS air quality system, and new exterior colors.
Option packages for the T5 begin with the Sport package ($695), comprised of Dynamic suspension and newly designed Sagitta 17-inch alloy wheels. The Climate package ($695) is available for the T5, also. A Premium package ($2,195) offers 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. Increasing the dynamics and the dynamic look is the appropriately named Dynamic Trim package ($2,025). Exterior body parts include a front chin spoiler, rear lower valance spoiler, a trunk-mounted spoiler, side skirts and 17-inch Scotia alloy wheels. 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 Convenience package ($405) includes a Homelink remote garage door opener, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and grocery bag holder. 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), and the IAQS air quality system ($175).
The S40 T5 AWD ($28,390) and V50 T5 AWD ($29,615) feature an electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system and the Dynamic suspension. New to the T5 AWD specifically are newly designed Scotia wheels for the Dynamic package ($2,025). Similar packages to those above are available.