Volvo S40

The Essentials

  • Price from £18,425
  • What Car? says: 3 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 74.3mpg
  • What is it? Posh small family car about to be replaced with the V40


  • This car will make you view Volvo from a whole new perspective
  • It offers a surprisingly exciting drive
  • Funky Swedish style inside


  • You'll pay extra for that Volvo badge
  • Prestige rivals still have the edge for space and refinement
  • Your family won't thank you as they squeeze in the back
  • Drive

    A brisk, fun drive on all but the most basic cars

  • Inside

    Comfortable and stylish

  • Safety

    Plenty of safety kit to reassure drivers

  • Reliability

    Get set for hassle-free motoring

  • Space

    Can't match rivals for passenger and boot space

  • Standard and extras

    Every car gets excellent equipment as standard and there are plenty of extras too

  • What's it like to drive?

    There is just the one mainstream petrol engine - a 2.0-litre unit - although there's also a high-performance 2.5-litre unit thats reserved for the range-topping T5 R-Design model. Nevertheless, the smart money goes on one of the 1.6- or 2.0-litre diesel engines, and even the least powerful of these is quite punchy.

  • What's it like inside?

    The S40's front seats are comfortable, with plenty of shoulder and thigh support, and theres a wide range of adjustment for the steering wheel, as well as a good view to the rear. The controls are small and fiddly and the information display could be clearer. There's plenty of leg- and headroom in the front seats. However, things aren't so good in the back; there's reasonable legroom, but headroom is tight and similarly priced cars like the VW Passat give you significant extra space.

  • How reliable is it?

    The cabin is trimmed with good-quality fixtures and fittings, giving it a classy feel, and it appears to be well built. The five-cylinder engine, also used in the S60 and S80, is well proven and reliable. In the 2012 JD Power customer satisfaction survey, and the S40 was its best-performing model, third in its class.

  • Should I buy one?

    The Volvo is not cheap for a small family car, but the S40's quality and high levels of standard equipment justify the pricetag to a degree. For £100, owners can buy a three-year/36,000 mile package that covers all scheduled servicing costs, while the sub-100g/km DRIVe models bring low rates of company car- and road tax.