If you’re creating the perfect small car from scratch, something that drives like a Focus with the comfort of a Volvo might be on the cards. Which makes the new S40, built on the underpinnings of next year’s Focus, such an appealing prospect.
Indeed, two weeks ago (New Cars, 21 October) we found just that. The range-topping T5 was swift, refined, comfortable and well built. This time, though, we’re interested in the other petrol model joining it at February’s launch, the 170bhp 2.4-litre. Essentially it’s the familiar five-pot powering bigger members of the line-up and in manual form sends it to 60mph in 8.2sec.
Unfortunately, though, our test car was fitted with the £1350 auto option, so we’re left with the impression that we haven’t experienced it in its best light. The 2.4’s laid-back power and torque delivery mean that it needs fairly commited use of the throttle to make swift progress. Cruising on roads with changing gradients is punctuated by the ’box constantly slicing between the top three gears, attempting to optimise thrust.