The Volvo S40 was one of the
nicest surprises of 2004, a motoring year that saw an
unprecedented number of new model launches in South Africa.
We tested the turbocharged model a few months ago, but this is
the naturally-aspirated 2.4i.
And it is of particular interest right now as it is one eight
finalists for the 2005 Car of the Year competition, with the
journalists’ test days just a few weeks away.
The new-generation S40 is a major step forward for Volvo, and
we believe this car will be fighting for overall honours in
the competition right from the word go. There are a couple of
reasons for this.
- Firstly it looks great.
- Secondly it is a fine
package combining excellent handling, rewarding feedback
from the controls, and performance.
- And thirdly, it is
extremely well-priced considering its specification.
The 2.4I is the entry-level
model in the S40 range, but it isn’t short-changed in terms
of features. The 16-inch alloy wheels look smart and features
like the wing mirror indicator lights add a touch of class.
And the 2.4i is a performance surprise too. There is something
enticing about the engine note of a five-cylinder unit. It has
an off-beat warble, and Volvo is very experienced in this
In fact, in some respects we preferred the power delivery of
the naturally aspirated 2.4 Volvo to that of the more powerful
Power delivery is more linear, easier to control when pulling
away on poor surfaces, for instance.
And outright performance is strong.
Delivering 125 kW, the transversely-mounted engine enables a
nought to 100 time of 8,7 seconds and a top speed of 220 km/h.
These are Car magazine’s tested figures at sea level and
they place the Volvo at the performance forefront in its price
On a bang-for-buck basis it also has more torque than any of
its competitors which include models from all the major
premium sector players such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.
The steering is a delight to use and so is the gearbox.
Incidentally it uses a five-speed manual transmission driving
the front wheels.
Traction control, ABS braking and Brake Assist are all part of
And of course, with Volvo’s safety drive in high gear for
the 21st century, this car has plenty of
credibility in the arrive-alive stakes. There is a patented
front-end steel structure using many different grades of steel
to achieve progressive body deformation in the event of an
There are a total of six airbags in the car, including curtain
airbags, and the front seats feature patented whiplash
As far as aesthetics are concerned, Kass found the Swedish
minimalism particularly pleasing to her eye in the interior of
the S40 2.4i.
Finely-stitched synthetic cloth seats are standard, although
leather seats are available as an option. The rear seats offer
a kind of bucket seat approach for the outer passengers and a
foldaway armrest can heighten the cockpit type of approach to
the rear seat occupants.
Rear passenger space is good too.
A negative of this clean functional design comes in the boot
space; crisp though that rear-end styling is, the opening to
the boot is woefully small, and overall capacity is small too.
On the plus side, there is a full-sized spare wheel.
At R227 000, we rate this Volvo as the best deal in its class.
It is a vast step ahead of the first-generation car, which had
indifferent handling and build quality.