When's it going?

When's it going?

The old S/V40 has gone, replaced by a new model that Robert Downey Jr and his twin brother drive and which a whole town in Sweden bought in one day. Don't be persuaded by the dark forces advertising that the 40 is all gone, because there are still a few old shape S40 saloons and V40 estates left.

What's good about it?

This was Volvo's first attempt to build a compact executive to compete against the BMW 3 series and the Mercedes C-class, and it wasn't half bad. Volvo brought its traditional solidity and safety. It scored four stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests, and has an impressive side impact-protection system, a full complement of air bags, seat-belt pre-tensioners and ABS brakes on every model. The styling is neat, but it still looks better as an estate. Compared with other so-called lifestyle estates, it is genuinely versatile. There is a massive choice, with at least 10 engines and a positively bewildering combination of trim packages.

What's bad about it?

This Volvo was available in too many confusing flavours when, perhaps, the company should have concentrated on getting the build quality and image right. Very early examples were not brilliantly built, but Volvo soon improved matters. That still wasn't enough to convince company car-buyers to switch from BMW and Mercedes. The interior was never special enough to impress anyone. The 1.6 engine can struggle a bit whereas the high power T4 seems to overwhelm the car.

How much?

Volvos dealers don't seem to have many left, and what they have has been registered or used as a demonstrator. Car supermarkets have some - over at Trade Sales (08701 222 961) S40 1.6S start at £11,299 and the 1.6S estate is £12,499. Motorpoint's S40 diesel 1.9D is £12,999, while a 1.9SE sport is £13,999.

Any snags?

Try and buy the post 2000 model, which was heavily revised in the suspension department and drove a lot better than before. Otherwise it's electrical niggles and trim rattles - and also suspension components once the miles build up.


Launched: 1996-2003

Engine: 1.6, 1.8, 1.8 Gdi, 1.9 T4, 1.9 TD, 1.9 Di, 1.9D, 2.0 2.0T, 2.0T4 Performance: 2.0, 0-60 9.7 seconds, 127mph Economy: 33.6mpg NCAP

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