The Volvo S40 is a great looking car... which drives as good as it looks


The Volvo S40 range is riding the crest of the wave after its 2.4i derivative was crowned as South Africa’s Car of the Year for 2005, has received another boost with the addition of a powerful turbo-diesel engine in the 2.0D. In a fast-growing diesel car market the qualities of this smooth four-cylinder turbo-diesel and the much acclaimed design features of the S40 promises to be a popular combination for South African customers. The 2-litre turbo-diesel engine has also been added to the Volvo range. Traditionally SUVs dominated the market for diesel-powered cars, but there has been a marked shift to not only sedans, but also hatch-backs, estates, MPVs and numerous entry-level variants.

It is against the backdrop of this growing demand that Volvo Car SA now introduces its first compact diesel engine in the local passenger vehicle market.
The new four-cylinder, 2-litre turbo-diesel engine extends the engine range in the South African S40 model line-up to three. The 100 kW, 320 Nm direct diesel injection engine in the Volvo S40 2.0D now supplements the normally aspirated 2.4-litre (125 kW and 230 Nm) launched last year in the 2.4i model and the turbocharged 2.5-litre (162 kW and 320 Nm) in the flagship S40 T5 model.

Both petrol engines have a five-cylinder in-line configuration, opposed to the four-cylinder in-line turbo-diesel which is also mounted transversely under the bonnet to drive the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox (not derived from the S60 R, as is the case with the six-speed gearbox in the S40 T5). No automatic gearbox is available in the S40 2.0D.

If one had to single out the most outstanding features of the new turbo-diesel, it is probably its frugal fuel consumption and excellent torque delivery. The S40 2.0D recorded a best consumption figure of 5,7 litres per 100 km in a mixed cycle of urban, highway and country roads. This is largely a result of the abundance of torque, with 320 Nm available at only 2 000 rpm.



Service intervals for the S40 2.0D are scheduled at every 20 000 km, but a change of oil and oil-filter takes place every 10 000 km.

As with all other services the oil and filter changes are covered by Volvo Car SA’s 5 year/100 000 km service and maintenance plan.

Although emissions of carbon dioxides (CO2) from a diesel engine are 20% lower than from a petrol engine, emissions of particulates are a traditional problem when driving on diesel.

While emissions of particulates have been significantly reduced by approximately 90% over the past 20 years, new technology now further reduces the remaining particles significantly by means of a filter. With the particulate filter introduced in the four-cylinder Volvo turbo-diesel engine in the S40, this meet the Euro 4 regulations by a broad margin. Even without the particulate filter, the engine has been developed to minimise emission of particulates and already met the legal requirements valid until 2006.

The particulate filter operates together with an additive that is added from a separate tank to the diesel fuel. The filter only has to be cleaned and/or changed approximately every 100 000 km. The additive is a fluid with a catalyst based on cerium which stimulates and secures the process of burning off soot at all engine loads and speeds.
The exterior of the new Volvo S40 that was launched in 2004 in South Africa is an evolution of Volvo’s modern body design, while the interior is simple but very neat and practical.
The controls in the new centre stack have an ergonomic and functional design. Most are used for several functions, in a logical and convenient way. The top half of the control panel is used to operate the audio system, while the lower half controls the climate system.

Behind the centre stack there is a practical storage compartment for personal items, easily accessible from both sides.
The Volvo S40 is shorter, but wider and taller, than its predecessor, creating more interior space. The bonnet is short and there is a pronounced cab-forward profile.

Viewed from above, the body resembles the shape of a boat hull, with a rounded prow, a broad mid-section and a narrowing stern. Together with the broad shoulders, this hull shape forges a compact and athletic stance, and contributes to the car’s excellent aerodynamics.

The track and wheelbase have been extended, virtually putting a wheel at each corner. This contributes to the sporty appearance and gives the car stable on-the-road behaviour. The long wheelbase also makes it possible to fit conveniently wide rear doors.
The Volvo S40 is a compact car with extremely high safety levels – both protective and preventive. Volvo’s intention was to reach the same high safety level as in the large Volvo models. The frontal body structure of the Volvo S40 is divided into several zones, each with a different task in the deformation process. The outer zones are responsible for most of the deformation. The closer the collision forces get to the passenger compartment, the less the materials used deform. The intention is that the passenger compartment should remain intact in most collisions. Since the engines are installed transversely, the reduced width creates greater space between engine and passenger compartment for the absorption of energy in a frontal collision.
The Volvo S40 also shares the same type of interior safety system as found on the larger Volvo models, including WHIPS (Whiplash Protection System), SIPS (Side Impact Protection System), side-impact airbags and inflatable curtains. The new Volvo S40 is 54 mm wider than its predecessor. This creates added space for deformation in a side impact.
The design of the Volvo S40 has a front characterised by clean, smooth surfaces and rounded corners. The front has an energy-absorbing structure ahead of the bumper so as to help reduce the risk of leg injuries.
The body of the Volvo S40 is 68% stiffer than that of its predecessor, thanks to advanced body design. This rigidity contributes to stable, predictable and consistent behaviour on the road. The car’s chassis design, with its broad track and long wheelbase, also has a positive effect on stability.

The suspension is independent all round, with spring struts at the front and a multilink system at the rear. The rear suspension provides a certain degree of passive steering to counteract any tendency to skid.

The Volvo S40 is equipped with Stability and Traction Control (STC), an anti-spin active safety system, as a standard feature in the S40 2.0 Diesel.
The S40 has extremely powerful ABS brakes – with electronic brake-force distribution to the rear wheels and automatic panic-braking assistance – EBA (Emergency Brake Assistance). The front wheels feature ventilated discs that vary with engine power.
The new Volvo S40 has been developed in the same spirit as the Volvo S60 and S80. The experience gained from the advanced Volvo S60 R formed the basis for the new compact model. The chassis technology was also obtained from the larger Volvo models. Independent suspension with a multilink system at the rear provides a superb combination of comfort and consistent response. The wider track and longer wheelbase, compared to the previous Volvo S40 model, also contribute to the car’s stable behaviour on the road.
The steering is electro-hydraulic, with distinct and controlled steering feedback.
As with other Volvo models the manufacturing methods for the S40, as well as the materials and substances used in its production, are selected so as to minimise the risk to health – both to production personnel and to people outside the plant. And, as with all Volvo cars, the S40 is designed for a high recycling rate to conform with one of Volvo Cars' core values – care for the environment. It is with this core value in mind that the S40, have been fitted with a particulate filter and catalytic converter which delivers the cleanest possible emissions from the turbo-diesel motor.


the plain easy-to-use controls of the Volvo S40

the dash, stationary at night (21:19 pm, 710 km to empty - with sedate driving)

the dash by day (14:59 pm, 370 km to empty - with pedal-to-the-metal driving)

 (both dials almost @ max, the 2 liter turbo-diesel is governed to 210kph)

the gutsy turbo-diesel engine produces more than enough power




Engine type: configuration: In-line, 4-cylinder, 4 valves per cylinder, 16 Valve, direct diesel injection turbocharged, transverse FWD

Displacement: 1997cc

Compression ratio: 18.5:1

Max. power output: 100 kW @ 4 000 rpm

Max. torque: 320 Nm @ 2 000


Transmission type: 6-speed manual


Weight: 1,371 kg

Vehicle length: 4 468 mm

Vehicle width: 1 770 mm

Vehicle height: 1 452 mm

Wheelbase: 2 640 mm

Ground clearance: 135 mm


0 - 100 km/h: 9.5 seconds

Top speed: 210 kph


Litres / 100 km: (mixed cycle) 5.7 litres

CO2 (g/km): 152

Fuel tank capacity: 55 litres


High Performance radio including 8 speakers, 1 CD player, 4X40W amplifier


ECC Dual electronic climate control, Pollen cabin filter, Inclination sensor / Level sensor, Exterior temperature gauge, On-board trip computer, Cruise control, Two cup-holders in centre console, Electric windows & auto-up front windows, Heated rear view mirrors, Electrically adjustable door mirrors, Automatically dimmed inner rear-view mirror, Illuminated vanity mirrors, driver & passenger, Adjustable steering wheel, Audio remote controls in steering wheel.


Inflatable side curtains (front & rear), WHIPS Whiplash seats front, Dual stage driver's airbag, Passenger airbag (Passenger airbag with cut-off switch), SIPS (Side Impact Protection System), SIPS airbags, Fixed head restraints all seats, Seat-belts with pre-tensioners, Alarm including immobiliser and panic function, Integrated remote control central locking key, Mass movement sensor, ABS brakes with EBD, STC (Stability Traction Control), DSTC (Dynamic Stability & Traction Control), IDIS (Intelligent Driver's Information System).


Fog lights in front spoiler, Rain sensor.


Tyre dimensions: 205/55 R16 W Michelin

Alloy-wheels: 16" Cygnus

Spare wheel: 125/85 R16


Manual (incl. VAT, excl. sunroof & options): R 240,000


VolvoPlan - 5 years / 100 000km


Words and photos by Kenn Slater


Thanks to Jacques Wilken (of Wilken Communications) and Volvo South Africa for

the drive in their prestigious, well-mannered Volvo S40 D (2 liter turbo-diesel),

and to Sammy Norris of Volvo SA for all his expert help and advice.