Achieving 74.3 mpg is very impressive for a car of this size and just a few years ago would have been thought to be impossible. For this reason alone the S40 is an absolute star, but we are pleased to report that it scores well in other areas too.
The increased efficiency is courtesy of a raft of now familiar changes. These include improving the aerodynamics by reducing the ride height and fitting drag-reducing spoilers, increasing 3rd, 4th and 5th gear ratios, reducing parasitic loads on the engine such as the power steering and fitting low rolling resistance tyres.
The standard specification is good, with Diamond Cut Libra alloy wheels, climate control, front, side and curtain airbags, Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC), Side Impact Protection System (SIPS) and Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS) on the entry-level ES model. For those who want a bit more, SE and SE Lux specifications are also available.
Build quality is also impressive, with high quality materials used throughout the cabin. The floating centre console is both stylish and functional, with the liberated space used as an extra storage area. This helps to make the cabin a very relaxing and enjoyable place to be.
The Volvo S40 is the most refined of the current family with engine, road and wind noise well controlled, and the frugal diesel engine allows a huge range between fuel stops. The suspension is finely tuned with body roll kept well in check without the ride becoming overly firm. As you would expect, safety is a strong point with a 5 star rating. The S40 achieved maximum marks in the side impact test and 82% for child protection.