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.