What's New for 2000
The S40 is Volvo's completely new entry-level sedan. Along with its wagon variant, the V40, this car rounds out Volvo's vehicle lineup. Safety, styling and comfort are its main attributes.
Up to this point, it has been difficult for Volvo to attract younger car buyers. This has been due to both the price of current models and the not-so-hip stereotype that seems to come into play when owning a Volvo. Volvo's elixir comes in the form of the 2000 S40/V40.
Brought over from Europe (the S40 went on sale in 1996 over there), the S40 certainly looks like a Volvo, but the traditional Volvo boxy styling is subdued for a more pleasant shape. The lines are smooth, with a nice integration of the traditional Volvo grille. The V40 Wagon is also softer and kinder than previous "shipping-box-included" Volvo wagons.
All S40/V40s are equipped with a turbocharged, DOHC, 1.9-liter, 16-valve four-cylinder engine. Maximum horsepower is 160 at 5,100 rpm. A more important figure, however, is the 170 ft-lbs. of torque available as low as 1,800 rpm. The low torque peak is due to Volvo's Light-Pressure Turbo system (LPT), which is designed to build boost pressure more quickly than a normal turbo system. The 1.9-liter engine is mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. The transmission offers three modes: Economy, Sport, and Winter. As of now, the automatic transmission is the sole choice.
Inside, the 40 platform doesn't skimp on Volvo's usual strong points of safety and comfort. For safety, there are dual front airbags, side airbags (the S40/V40 uses Volvo's SIPS II side-airbag design, which is said to provide even more protection to the chest and head) and front seatbelts that are adjustable to match the driver's height. The front belts are also equipped with pre-tensioners, which tighten the belts in order to help prevent slack in a frontal collision. The S40/V40 also has Volvo's new Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS) seats that were introduced on the S80 last year. These seats help prevent whiplash in a rear-end collision. The rear seats, including the center, are equipped with three-point belts and headrests. As you would expect, all of these features are standard. Other standard items include automatic climate control, heated rearview mirrors, and an electronic security system.
Volvo has given the 40 platform a fairly taut suspension, though comfort ultimately takes precedence over performance. And the S40/V40's comfort is just one of the strong characteristics that should draw interest from buyers for safety, utility and an improved personality over most other Volvo products. One must be careful when choosing optional equipment, however. A full load of options can bloom the price of a V40 Wagon to around $30,000.