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Shelby Mustang Cobra GT500, Geneva Auto Show, New York Auto Show, Detailers Paradise, Nissan Titan, Porsche 911 Carrera S, Volvo S40
Issue Seventeen
March 28, 2005
2005 Geneva Auto Show
Photo Gallery:
2005 Geneva Auto Show
2005 New York Auto Show
Photo Gallery:
2005 NY Auto Show
Hot Lap with:
Detailers Paradise
Nissan Titan
Porsche 911 Carrera S
2005 Volvo S40

2005 Volvo S40:
Ford Gilds a Lily (continued)

2005 Volvo S40

The Volvo S40 offers a 2.4 liter 4-cylinder or a 5-cylinder turbocharged version

Well appointed interior is very luxurious on the Volvo S40

Offering safety and good looks is just part of what the Volvo S40 does best

Visit the
Volvo S40
Photo Gallery

Official Web sites:
Volvo USA
The base motor in the S40/V50 is a 2.4-liter inline five. Not exactly a slouch in a car of this size, this 168-horse mill is plenty stout for those who bought their Volvo for safety rather than speed. Since these bottom-rung babies start at $23,260; they aren't the poor choice that most stripped-down penny-pinchers are.

The coil-sprung, control arm suspension puts the S40's handling on par with the TSX or WRX, but with even better grip. It's nimble for a Volvo. Braking is similarly excellent; at under 166 feet from 70 to zip, the S40 bests all competitors by a wide margin. We did not have a chance to sample the test car's all-wheel-drive system in inclement weather, but the dry traction the system afforded us in high-speed runs suggests its utility.

It's not a quiet car; the engine's not-unpleasant thrum is accompanied by more wind noise than you'd expect. The cabin is, however, another home run. The materials used - from the dash to the seats and even the headliner - are befitting of a car that trades in such rarified circles. The center stack/console in particular is a work of automotive art. Like an aluminum waterfall, the audio and climate controls are placed on a thin panel that cascades down from the dashboard towards the e-brake; behind this is simply thin air. It's a beautiful and unique engineering solution; the space in back of this little piece of interior sculpture is useful for cell phones or other items. An added bonus: whatever you store back there is within easy reach, but nigh invisible to prying eyes outside.

The rest of the inside impresses as well. The seats are firm and strike a good balance between supportive and comfortable - long drives pose no challenge. Clear and powerful enough to please all but the most demanding ears, the audio system itself is a delight. The monochrome screen doubles as the readout screen for the onboard trip computer; facts and figures about your fuel consumption, trip length, outside temperature and the like are accessible via an easy-to-use menu. We especially enjoyed the graphics Volvo's programmers built in to the entertainment/info functions - it's like a poor-man's iDrive, but so much easier to use.

We also appreciated that the switches, knobs and levers operate with that slick, damped feeling endemic to high-end autos. Our tester had the optional sunroof, part of an $1,850 option package that also included a power driver's seat, the six-disc changer, and those eminently useful audio controls on the steering wheel. The sunroof is one of the best driving-enjoyment inventions since the turbocharger itself, but the Volvo's rather petite aperture is pretty much directly overhead, and is thus more useful for increased airflow than vertical sightseeing. That fault is by no means specific to the S40; we've noticed this quirk in many new cars lately - perhaps all that safety gear and structural bracing gets in the way these days. Still, it's a shame.

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