You'll Like The 2008 Volvo S40 If...
If you like to get the most bang for your buck, the S40 will impress you with its style, content and price. Long known for its emphasis on safety, Volvo carries on the tradition with side-impact and side-curtain airbags, the Whiplash Protection System and other safety features.
You May Not Like The 2008 Volvo S40 If...
If you regularly need room for four adults, the S40's cramped rear seat and moderate headroom are a negative. Power in the base car is far from exhilarating and all-wheel drive is available only with the pricier T5, which doesn't offer a manual transmission option.
The V40 gets a slight freshening with a new front end and numerous interior improvements. An auxiliary audio input jack and a tire-pressure monitor are standard on all versions. T5 models get nearly 10 additional horsepower but lose their manual transmission option. SIRIUS Satellite Radio is standard on all T5 models.
Scandinavian in nature, the S40's interior and dashboard qualify as no-frills. Volvo claims the "ultra-slim" center console is the first of its kind on the market. While the console looks neat, its stylistic slimness would make it difficult to upgrade to an aftermarket audio unit. The company promotes the S40's "ergonomically designed" seats, and their comfort on long drives is undeniable. On the dashboard, temperature and fuel gauges are integrated into the speedometer, but are easy enough to read. Some controls on the vertical console aren't quite as logical as they look, and glovebox space is meager. Compact outside, the S40 is quite roomy in the front-seat area, though it lacks good rear seat headroom.
The S40's design evolves from the more rounded shape Volvo started with the S80. Few traces of the old squared-off profiles are left on today's products from the Swedish-based automaker. What Volvo calls Intelligent Vehicle Architecture includes "extremely rigid" cross members for side-impact protection and a considerable amount of high-tensile steel in the structure. Manufactured in Belgium, the S40 bears a close resemblance to other Volvo models. Up front, at least, it's a virtual twin to the new V50 wagon.
Despite the moderate size, the S40 is one serious automobile, well suited for both the highway and twisting back roads. Stable and solid on the road, the S40 T5's steering yields sharp, reasonably quick responses. Quiet and refined, the T5 is a spirited performer, with its smooth-shifting five-speed Geartronic automatic transmission adeptly handling the engine's power. Unfortunately, the Geartronic manual shift mode is not as quick nor as fun to drive as the discontinued six-speed manual. Except for appropriate engine sounds when accelerating, little noise is heard. The T5's suspension is noticeably stiffer than usual for Volvos, but discomfort occurs only on rougher bumps. On satisfactory surfaces, the ride is smooth enough. Though easy to load, the trunk's size is modest.
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the S40 ranges from just over $25,000 for the base 2.4i to just under $30,000 for the front-wheel-drive T5. A loaded T5 with all-wheel drive tops out in the $42,000 range. The S40 undercuts the base Audi A4, BMW 335 and Lexus IS by a good margin, but the pricing gap closes quickly once comparable features are added. A look at the Fair Purchase Price shows the actual transaction price customers are paying in your area, so be sure to check it out before you begin negotiations. Although the new S40 is projected to hold its value better than the previous generation, it still trails the Subaru Impreza, Lexus IS and Audi A4 2.0 in expected long-term residual values.
Even in the base 2.4i trim, the S40 features air conditioning, side-curtain airbags, front seat side-impact airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS), an engine immobilizer, traction control, rear fog lamp, keyless remote entry, heated power mirrors, 16-inch alloy wheels, a single CD player and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel. Upgrading to the T5 adds a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine, five-speed automatic transmission, automatic climate control, upgraded audio with six-disc in-dash CD changer, SIRIUS Satellite Radio and an eight-way power driver's seat.
Popular options are mostly bundled into packages. The base 2.4i offers a Climate Package with heated seats, headlamp washers and rain-sensing wipers. The Select Package adds a power glass moonroof, six-disc CD changer, upgraded speakers, trip computer and a power driver's seat. Stand-alone options include leather seating (2.4i), Blind Spot Information System and the five-speed Geartronic automatic transmission (2.4i). The T5 offers Active Bi-Xenon headlamps, sport steering wheel, sport suspension, 17-inch "Zaurak" wheels, navigation and Volvo's Keyless Drive remote start system.
Even if required only occasionally, all-wheel drive enhances the Volvo's feeling of security. Most of the time, you don't even realize all-wheel drive is present.
Dynamic Sport Suspension
Volvo's stiffer suspension boosts handling capabilities without extracting a significant penalty in ride comfort.
Under the Hood
The standard 2.4-liter engine is adequate for the casual driver, but lacks the low-end punch needed for quick bursts of speed when passing or merging. If you can swing the extra cash, opt for the T5 - its turbocharged engine brings the little S40 to life. The T5's five-speed Geartronic automatic is not as quick as Audi's DSG manual-shift transmission, but it's the only choice for those who prefer shifting their own gears.
2.4-liter in-line 5
168 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
170 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28
2.5-liter in-line 5 Turbocharged
227 horsepower @ 5000 rpm
236 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1500-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 (automatic, FWD), 19/28 (manual, FWD), 18/26 (automatic, AWD), 17/25 (manual, AWD)
The 2008 Volvo S40 is a fantastic way to enjoy the perks of owning a premium brand automobile without having to pay a premium price. For about the same money as a Honda Accord EX, customers can pick up an S40 2.4i complete with a frugal yet peppy five-cylinder engine, sporty ride and handling and legendary Volvo safety. For a bit more cash, the S40 T5 ups the ante with a powerful turbocharged engine, the availability of all-wheel drive and a long list of luxury features. While not as sophisticated or adept as an Audi A4 or BMW 3 Series, the S40 nonetheless plays well in this field, offering a nice balance of performance, economy and affordability.