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Volvo S40 T5 2004 review

Now that safety is one of the main factors buyers consider, Volvo is finding itself in a quandary.

Now that safety is one of the main factors buyers consider, Volvo is finding itself in a quandary. It's still a leader in standard safety additions but it also produces stylish, funky and sporty packages.

The Volvo S40 T5 is one that buyers must try. It has a mix of power and handling with distinct undertones of style and panache.

The exterior is sporty but still retains an element of style about it. There is no bonnet scoop to show off the turbo that lurks beneath, no side skirts or spoiler kits.

But the S40 still has an aggressive stance thanks to the twin headlights and sharply-designed crease lines that produce a very pronounced "V" on the bonnet.

The 2.5-litre turbo engine produces 162kW of power at 5000rpm and 320Nm of torque at 1500rpm which holds firm to 4800rpm.

On the road the T5 gets along very smartly. The turbo is quiet, only whistling ever so slightly while the throaty five-cylinder sound resonates around the car with tones more like a six.

It has plenty of pulling power from low revs and lots of overtaking oomph. The ride and handling are great, helped in part by the 17-inch wheels and the six-speed manual which is a really classy piece of gear.

Compared to other high-power turbos, the S40 returns a measly fuel economy of just over 9 litres/100km. The reason is that the low-stressed turbo motor only gives up its go when you need it.

The new S40 has a noticeably more assertive stance on the road thanks in part to the 63mm wider track front and 54mm extra width over its predecessors. The S40 is actually 48mm shorter than the previous model but is 44mm higher and boasts a 78mm extension in the wheelbase.

Inside, the most striking feature is the extremely thin and elegant Floating Centre Console. Influenced by the Scandinavian tradition of clean surfaces and uncluttered lines the inspiration for the stand-alone feature came from Arne Jacobsen's compression-moulded chairs.

Tucked away behind the floating console is a storage compartment which can be accessed from either side.

The top-of-the-line T5 has standard leather seats, steering wheel and gear knob, Bi-Xenon headlights and an electronically-adjustable driver's front seat.

The T5 console is customised in brushed aluminium which does not show fingerprint marks. Four dials control the radio and airconditioning while the minor function buttons are grouped together in a panel mimicking a remote control.

The S40 is comfortable and roomy with plenty of space for five adults, good headroom and a nice amount of leg space.

Yes, it does have an abundance of safety features standard across the S40 range, including ABS, driver and passenger dual-stage airbags, curtain airbags, side impact protection system and SIDS bags for the front seats, head and chest.

All the S40s have three-point inertia reel belts with automatic height adjustment and belt tensioners, anti-submarining on all seats, whiplash protection system, dynamic stability control and collapsible pedals.

The boot is deep and easy to load but is not that high. The S40 is also available as a wagon and an AWD version is expected next year.

The S40 T5 is a package sure to make life tough for its rivals which include the BMW 3-Series and Audi A4. The only problem for Volvo is whether people will be prepared to look past the badge and take one for a drive.

Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

Aktiv 1.9L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $4,510 – 6,710 2004 Volvo S40 2004 Aktiv Pricing and Specs
2.0 1.9L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $4,290 – 6,380 2004 Volvo S40 2004 2.0 Pricing and Specs
2.0 SE 1.9L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $4,950 – 7,260 2004 Volvo S40 2004 2.0 SE Pricing and Specs
2.0T 1.9L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $4,620 – 6,820 2004 Volvo S40 2004 2.0T Pricing and Specs
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