4.5.2011 Volvo S40 1.6D DRIVe review
Engine upgrade and fitting of auto stop-start to cut fuel and emissions in traffic drops Volvo's best selling compact executive S40 model below the 100g/km target bringing lower running costs for both private and business users.
Handling is not as sporty as styling suggests; this model is only available with a manual gearbox. Front seat passengers get the best deal but the boot is big. Inclusion of keyless entry and engine stop-start makes everyday life easier. Elegant styling was refreshed three years ago.
Review by Russell Bray for nextgreencar.com
A 1560cc four cylinder turbo diesel engine in a solid car is going to work hard, even with 199 lbs ft of torque from 1,750rpm, so relaxed cruising in a tall sixth gear is the car's forte rather than cut and thrust traffic work. Acceleration to 62 mph takes 11.4 seconds with top speed eventually winding up to 121mph. Maximum power of 113bhp arrives at 3,600rpm and the change up indicator encourages a gear change within a thousand rpm later.
Solid, competent and safe might be exactly what you expect, but because the floorpan/chassis is the same as the previous model Ford Focus – Ford used to own Volvo – I expected a little more agility. Perhaps the characteristics of the fuel-saving low rolling resistance tyres are partly to blame. There is however plenty of traction through the powered front wheels. Steering is precise enough, gear changes are quick and the clutch well cushioned. There's a proper non-electronic handbrake – thank you Volvo!
A handsome car from any angle. True, understated, smooth Swedish style with a welcome absence of 'bling' inside the car too. Large wheel arch blisters give a sense of sporty purpose. Low nose and high tail is good for aerodynamics and helps provide a good size boot. Wide windscreen pillars provide good strength in event of a roll-over accident, but combined with the door frame they create blindspots that need care at junctions if you are going to miss motorcyclists. Length 4476mm. Width 1770mm.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Excellent Volvo front seats with good lumbar support. No complaints from rear seat occupants though legroom isn't that generous. Good range of steering wheel adjustment. Reasonable weight to steering, clutch light, brakes progressive but quite a lot of nose dip under hard braking. Thankfully, the diesel engine is quieter from inside the car than outside.
Major controls logical and simple to use, but accessing on-board computer for average fuel consumption etc requires taking your hand off the wheel to rotate part of the left hand steering column stalk. Sat nav (if fitted) worked by buttons on steering wheel or hand held remote control.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Official figures are improved over the previous engine and helped along by auto stop-start. They show 61.4mpg on the urban cycle, 85.4mpg on the extra urban one and 74.3mpg on the combined cycle. This translates to an average running cost of 8.5 p/mile. You need some basis for comparison, but as usual it proved impossible to match the official figures in the real world. My in-town best was 47mpg and normal to brisk driving on motorways and A-roads saw 54mpg. Carbon dioxide emissions of 99g/km mean you don't pay any annual road tax and grant you free admission to the London Congestion Charge zone. Service interval is 12,500 miles, and warranty is three years / 60,000 miles.
Upgraded 1.6 litre diesel engine, to meet Euro 5 exhaust emission regulations, combined with a six-speed manual gearbox and start/stop function have cut CO2 emissions from 104 g/km to 99 g/km. DRIVe models are slightly lowered and have aerodynamic tweaks such as air deflecting panel behind the radiator grille and wind deflectors in front of the front wheels to manage the airflow. Power steering is also optimized and low friction oil is used in the gearbox. A combination of these additional technologies and tweaks give the S40 an impressive Next Green Car Rating of 29. A V60 estate with plug-in hybrid technology that emits less than 50g/km CO2 will be launched in 2012.
Standard specification includes climate control, alloy wheels, stability and traction control, electric windows, leather trimmed steering wheel and gear knob, information centre, radio/CD player and MP3 player input. SE adds T-Tec upholstery, aluminium trim inlays, cruise control, steering wheel remote controls, 17in alloy wheels, folding door mirrors and fog lights. The tested SE Lux adds leather upholstery and active Xenon lights with cleaning system. Options: metallic paint £565, electric sunroof £610, leather seats £970, rear parking sensors £385 and satellite navigation £1,535.
Model tested: Volvo S40 1.6D DRIVe SE Lux
Body-style: Four-door compact family saloon
Engine/CO2: 113bhp 1560cc turbo diesel / 99 gCO2/km
Trim grades: ES, SE, SE Lux
On-road price: Range from £17,995. DRIVe models from £21,045. Test car £24,035
Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Available now
Review rating: 3.5 STARS
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