The Volvo S40 looks and feels like a sports sedan, and the nearly identical Volvo V50 runs like a sport wagon. Enhancing their sporting credentials is the availability of a five-speed manual transmission for base models, and a six-speed manual for the turbocharged T5 with all-wheel drive.
The S40 sedan and V50 wagon are compact cars, yet they seat four in reasonable comfort, and the compact exterior dimensions make them easy to park. They are designed to be extremely safe, with active and passive safety features to help drivers avoid accidents, then protect them if there is a crash.
The V50 wagon drives just like the S40 sedan. It's nearly identical in size, measuring less than two inches longer in overall length. In fact, the S40 sedan and V50 wagon are nearly identical in every way. Both seat five passengers. Front-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is available.
On the open road, these cars are stable and relaxed. They hold their own with the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, and other cars in this class, even at high speeds. They are attractive cars, and inside they offer clean, Scandinavian elegance.
The 2.4i models feature a five-cylinder engine that produces strong torque. As a result, they deliver decent acceleration performance. They also offer a good balance between ride comfort and handling response, with a suspension that's firm but not jarring. The brakes are excellent. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, while Volvo's five-speed Geartronic automatic is optional. The 2.4-liter five-cylinder engine generates 168 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque.
T5 models feature a turbocharged engine that is wonderfully smooth and responsive, delivering acceleration that is both even and exhilarating. The five-speed Geartronic automatic transmission works as well as any in this class. The T5 can be equipped with all-wheel drive for an extra element of performance or all-weather security; with AWD a six-speed manual is standard and the five-speed automatic an option. The T5 engine is a slightly larger 2.5-liter turbocharged version of the five-cylinder engine. Output increases to 227 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. The T5 sedan comes only with the five-speed automatic transmission.
T5 models feature what Volvo calls R-Design: a unique grille with matte silver outline and R-Design logo, a sport body kit with color-coordinated side skirts and spoilers, two-tone Flextech/leather seats, aluminum sport pedals, sport shift knob, R-Design inlays, blue-faced instruments, and sport steering wheel.
2010 Volvo S40 and V50 models now come with electronic climate control and adjustable head restraints, but some other previously standard equipment has been made optional in order to reduce the entry-level price.
The Volvo S40 was launched as a 2004 model, the V50 joined the line for 2005. The styling was revised for 2008. There are no major changes for 2010.
The 2010 Volvo S40 2.4i ($26,200) and V50 2.4i ($28,700) come with cloth upholstery, Electronic Climate Control with pollen filter; aluminum-inlay interior trim; power windows and door locks with remote locking; cruise control; tilt-telescoping leather steering wheel with audio controls; 160-watt, eight-speaker audio with AM/FM/CD, MP3 capability, USB connection; Bluetooth; fog lights front and rear; power driver's seat; and 17-inch alloy wheels with 205/50R17 tires. Options include Nordic Oak interior trim ($150), Sirius Satellite Radio ($400). A five-speed manual transmission is standard in the sedan; Volvo's Geartronic five-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift feature is optional ($1,250) in the sedan and standard in the wagon.
The S40 T5 ($31,150) upgrades with sport-tuned suspension, memory for the driver's seat and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and special trim. Optional 18-inch Midir diamond cut alloy wheels with 215/45R18 tires are available ($750). The T5 Multimedia Package ($1,000) bundles Sirius Satellite Radio with a 12-speaker, two-amp Dynaudio sound system featuring Dolby Pro Logic II Surround Sound.
The S40 T5 AWD sedan ($31,350) and V50 T5 AWD wagon ($33,050) add Volvo's full-time variable all-wheel-drive system and a six-speed manual transmission. The five-speed automatic is optional ($1,250).
The Climate Package ($900), available on all models, adds heated front seats, headlight washers, rain-sensing wipers and an Interior Air Quality System (IAQS) with humidity sensor. The Preferred Package ($1,250) combines a power glass sunroof with a power passenger seat and Keyless Drive. Other options include HDD navigation ($1,800), full leather seating ($1,200), and metallic paint ($550).
Safety features include front-impact airbags, torso-protecting side-impact airbags for front passengers, and head-protecting curtains for all outboard passengers. All models come with antilock brakes and Volvo's Dynamic Stability Traction Control, which senses and then tries to correct a potential skid. Volvo's Whiplash Protection Seating System, or WHIPS, uses specially designed seats to minimize potential for neck injuries in a rear-end impact. Volvo's Automatic Hazard Warning starts the emergency flashers in the event of a collision. A tire pressure monitor is standard.
Optional safety features include Volvo's Blind Spot Information System, or BLIS ($700), which warns the driver of nearby vehicles that might not be visible in the mirrors. Active Bi-Xenon headlights ($800) point into curves and remain level over bumpy surfaces. Built-in, height-adjustable child booster seats ($300) are available in the wagons.