Efficient, but too pricey

What is it?

The Volvo S40 2.0d is one of three models in the Volvo range to get the new six-speed double-clutch Powershift gearbox already available in the Focus. Volvo claims that by using two wet clutches that work independently of one another, you get the performance of a manual with the benefits of a fully automatic should you want to stick it in ‘D’ and ignore the gearstick.

It won’t be a cheap option, though. The Powershift gearbox will set you back £1400 and is only available with the 2.0-litre diesel engine, which is also one of the more expensive models in the S40 range.

What’s it like?

Effective. The smooth up-change works well with the diesel S40’s generally laid-back character and makes good use of the 134bhp engine’s 236lb ft of torque.

Down-changes are equally effortless provided you’re just cruising, but as soon as you plant your foot in the floor the gearbox is thrown into confusion and will leave a very noticeable pause between being asked to change down and actually engaging a gear.

If you really want to change gear manually then you can, but it seems a minor aside when the ‘box is good enough at picking cogs itself and there are no paddles with which to change gear, either.

But focused driving is not what the S40 is about so it won’t matter to any prospective owners. What does matter is that the gearbox makes life easier without compromising what performance the S40 already had, with 0-60mph taking only 0.2sec longer in the Powershift than in the manual.

Economy is reduced from the manual’s claimed 48.7mpg to 47.1mpg combined, whilst CO2 emissions are up by 6g/km to 159, though it remains in the same band D for VED tax.

Should I buy one?

Our test car came in Sport R-Design form, which has a fidgety ride and pushes the S40 into price territory it simply cannot compete in. However, the Powershift gearbox is a good option so if you must have an S40 then buy further down the trim range.

If you’re not so worried about brand image and interior quality, then the cheaper Ford Focus is a much better way to spend your money.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
theoriginalshoe 1 October 2008

Re: Volvo S40 2.0D Powershift

Good on you for being prepared to stand out from the crowd Julian. Having been a car enthusiast all my life I just can't get excited about the Focus, even though I know how good it is to drive. I guess that's because it's so common and plain to look at now. So I can understand your choice, as it looks very tidy and is different from the norm. I hope your ownership experience backs your decision!

julianphillips 5 September 2008

Re: Volvo S40 2.0D Powershift

I bought a V50 R-Design and I love it. Overseas it is considered very much a worthy rival to the 3-Series and A4 wagons. MSN Cars posted an extremely positive review of the V50 R-Design: http://cars.uk.msn.com/Reviews/article.aspx?cp-documentid=9371420&dub-ga... I think the R-Design package is superb value for money and, other than sat-nav, results in a comprehensive spec that leaves little to be desired. It makes it comparatively excellent value to premium and non-premium competition, particularly as some Volvo dealers can be quite happy to discount. As MSN note, it also looks pretty mean in white!

tolis 4 September 2008

Re: Volvo S40 2.0D Powershift

Volvo has seen a recent surge in sales at the UK because of its R-design lineup.When the overall market is down 3%,Volvo is up 20% mostly thanks to R-design models,including Volvo S40 R-design.So,let the customers decide whether the S40 2.0D powershift is pricey or not.Volvo is an upmarket maker and will move further upmarket...let the customers judge!