The new 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.
Business project manager: Peter Ewerstrand
The Volvo S40 has a compact body with rounded lines and an abrupt tail section. The car’s appearance speaks modern design and speed. The short bonnet and pronounced cab-forward stance help create a spacious cabin with generous interior space. Broad haunches and convex side panels signal power and underscore the car’s compact dimensions. The tail lamps follow Volvo’s modern form. Despite its compact exterior dimensions, the Volvo S40 offers a spacious and flexible interior. Every passenger seat has a fold-flat backrest. With the seats folded down, the load compartment floor is entirely flat. The interior is inspired by Scandinavian product design with the emphasis on uncluttered surfaces, honest materials and good function. The Volvo S40 (and Volvo V50) saw the introduction of Volvo’s ultra-slim, free-floating centre console with illuminated storage compartment behind.
The Volvo S40 and V50 were also launched with a specially developed upholstery material – T-Tec – that echoes ultra-modern sports clothes and travel goods.
Volvo Cars adopts a holistic view of safety that encompasses both Preventive and Protective safety.
Preventive safety is closely linked to the car’s driving properties. The body of the Volvo S40 features immense torsional rigidity and the car has a sturdy chassis, a combination that results in consistent, predictable behaviour on the road (see also under “Powertrain and Chassis”). Volvo Cars has developed various information systems designed to help the driver while on the move. One such system is IDIS (Intelligent Driver Information System) which for instance delays incoming phone calls in complex traffic situations that require the driver’s undivided attention. Protective safety in the Volvo S40 is structured around a network consisting of exterior and interior safety systems that interact with one another to reduce the risk of occupant injury in a collision.
The exterior systems have the task of distributing and absorbing incoming collision forces so that the passenger compartment remains as intact and undamaged as possible. The body is therefore built in the form of a metal cage made using different grades of steel, where all the components interact with one another to ensure controlled deformation.
The interior safety systems aim to keep the passengers securely in place and also to reduce the risk of serious injury. In order to provide the most effective protection possible, Volvo Cars has developed a number of in-house systems, such as WHIPS (Whiplash Protection System), SIPS (Side Impact Protection System) and IC (Inflatable Curtain). All are fitted as standard in the Volvo S40. What is more, all five seats are equipped with three-point inertia-reel seat belts, belt pre-tensioners and head restraints. The highest possible safety requires that all the car’s occupants always use their seat belts.
Powertrain and chassis
The engines in the Volvo S40 are transversely installed in-line units. New methods of shrinking the engine’s external dimensions have made it possible to fit a five-cylinder engine in the compact S40 body. Volvo can thus offer a compact car with high performance and large-car feel. A five-cylinder engine gives low vibration and smooth operation. Together with large displacement, the five-cylinder configuration provides high torque across a broad rev band, and thus also swift acceleration and excellent driveability within a wide speed range. Four-cylinder engines are available as an option.
The Volvo S40 T5 is the top model, featuring a turbocharger and five-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed manual gearbox. The T5 model is also available with electronically controlled All-Wheel Drive.
The chassis, with spring struts at the front and Multilink axle at the rear, is set up for stable, reassuring driving manners and alert steering response. The Multilink rear axle is an independent rear suspension system featuring a number of links and it is designed to offer a good combination of controlled wheel movements and high ride comfort. Some of these links have the task of providing a certain degree of anti-skid steering effect. A long wheelbase and wide track, together with a very torsionally rigid body, contribute to the predictable, controlled driving manners. Volvo’s advanced DSTC (Dynamic Stability and Traction Control) stability-enhancing system is fitted as standard. DSTC cuts in and helps stabilise the car if it registers any tendency to skid.
The Volvo S40 is designed and equipped to impact as little as possible on the global environment and to offer a clean and healthy interior climate. Petrol engines with low internal friction, efficient combustion and advanced exhaust filtration technology result in low emissions. Energy-efficient diesel engines with particle filters produce low emissions of carbon dioxide and soot particles. In addition, the Volvo S40 is available on the Swedish market with an ethanol-powered FlexiFuel engine.
The five-cylinder versions of the Volvo S40 can be optionally specified with a catalytic radiator coating – PremAir®. This system converts harmful ground-level ozone into pure oxygen as the car drives. Its benefits are greatest in dense city traffic and in strong sunlight. Volvo’s IAQS (Interior Air Quality System) effectively reduces the amount of particles, pollen, gases and certain unpleasant odours in the air entering the cabin. All the textiles and leather upholsteries are certified according to ÖKO-TEX 100, an international standard that ensures that the interior trim is free from allergy-producing and hazardous substances.