The Volvo S40 was launched in autumn 2003 as a somewhat larger sedan evolution of its Dutch-built predecessor. The design language and the specification level harmonised more closely with the larger Volvo S60. The aim was to give customers large-car properties in a compact format and with clearly sporty overtones.
The S40 was the result of a joint-venture between Volvo Cars and Mitsubishi; the two companies built their own series of cars on a common technical platform side by side in the Dutch NedCar plant. With the S40, Volvo offered the same comfort and safety levels in compact size as the drivers of the larger 850 had already enjoyed for some years.