Volvo has expanded its S40 range with two new 1.6-litre engines, a 100bhp petrol and the Ford/PSA Group 110bhp diesel. It’s the diesel we’ve driven here, and it’s an engine that has recently impressed in cars such as the Peugeot 407 and the new Ford Focus.
Despite its diminutive capacity, it produces a meaty 177lb ft at only 1750rpm and its all-aluminium construction is a weight-saving advantage when compared with the iron-block engines of most of its rivals. The S40 is a good place to put it, with diesel clatter generally reduced to a distant hum and minimal vibration making it through to the cabin.
The engine’s torque is easily accessible in everyday driving, and allows this S40 to effortlessly keep pace with the traffic flow. Frugally too, as Volvo claims 57.6mpg on the combined cycle, theoretically giving a range of nearly 700 miles, factoring in the 55-litre fuel tank.
The only downside is the engine’s failure to meet Euro4 emissions regulations, despite the low 129g/km CO2 output – this will increase company car tax. Expect that situation to be remedied later this year.
Although the 1.6D might not make this S40 particularly fast, it’s a great match for the car’s relaxed character. Our entry-level S model struck an appealing and somehow very Swedish-balance between high-quality construction with soft-touch materials, and workmanlike, simple fabrics and design.
Ergonomically the S40 is very good, with a wide range of driving position adjustment and supportive seats. Coupled with low wind and road noise, it’s a comfortable way to while away the miles, especially as the ride on this S model with smaller 16in wheels is noticeably better than that of previous cars we’ve tried.
Expect to pay £16,568 for the 1.6D S model, £1270 more than the 1.6 petrol and £470 more than the 1.8 petrol engine. Nevertheless, the diesel engine is well worth the extra money. In fact, it’s the best S40 currently on sale.