From £17,325
Not as good as the diesel equivalent
15 February 2005

Last month, in our first drive of the S40 1.6D we called it the ‘best S40 currently on sale’. And after this drive of the 1.6-litre petrol, it doesn’t look like that will change.

Though the petrol comes in cheaper at £15,298, the diesel’s 177lb ft (against the petrol’s 111lb ft) makes in-town driving a breeze, with less gearchanging and more overtaking urge. And the diesel’s economy, at 57.6mpg for the combined cycle, makes mincemeat of the petrol’s at 39.2mpg. The oil-burner’s refinement is excellent as well. So, what argument can we make for petrol over diesel?

Well, for resolute petrol-heads, this engine is a sweet one. It revs willingly and smoothly all the way to the red line. It never gets thrashy, remaining cultured and unobtrusive all the time. Volvo claims it gets to 62mph fractionally faster than the diesel as well, in 11.9sec v 12sec.

In addition to the quiet engine, the S40’s excellent wind and road noise suppression are still present in the cheapest version. Riding on the Focus platform, the S40 has most of the composure of its Ford cousin, and our S test car, on16in wheels, has a noticeably better ride than other models we’ve tried.

If the 1.6D weren’t such a competent and complete S40 package, we’d quickly label the 1.6-litre petrol as the best in the range. But the frenetic way in which you must drive the petrol to keep up with the diesel tends to undermine the Volvo’s relaxed character.

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