Sunday, February 17, 2013

Used Car Review - Volvo S40 (2005-2012)

Searching for the safest car in the second hand car planet is a daunting task. Myk Belmonte finds what could be one.

2005-2012 Volvo S40

Naming a car is one of the most difficult tasks that a car manufacturer can do. Give your car a good name and you'll be rewarded, give your car an embarrassing name and you'll suffer. For some car manufacturers, particularly the luxury brands, they use numbers and letters combinations to save time and to avoid the embarrassment. In this case, Swedish car manufacturer Volvo had been using alphanumeric designation to avoid any torture of having their vehicle a hit or miss in the market.

The second generation S40 and its wagon counterpart, renamed as the V50, had been available worldwide in the middle of 2004. If the previous model had to share its platform with the Mitsubishi Carisma, this time it uses the Ford C1 platform which is also utilized by the Ford Focus and the Mazda 3 (another achievement, featuring cars from the same platform weeks apart!). Production shifted from Netherlands to Ghent, Belgium. The chassis used and majority of the components are developed by Volvo, while some mechanical parts are shared with the Mazda 3 and the European Ford Focus. It received a mid-cycle facelift in 2008 and was put to rest in 2012, with this line being replaced by the Volvo V40 later that year.

Viking Cars Incorporated brought in the second generation S40/V50 in late 2004. Only one engine is available for the S40, a naturally aspirated 2.4 I5 but a 2.5 I5 with turbo can be had via indent order. The last time you can have this car brand new is just last year.

Value and Costs
Comparing the resale value from its European colleagues, this one is on the lower side of the spectrum with units costing between P580,000-P850,000. Lucky are if you could snag a unit sold from March 2010 or later so you can have the remaining portions of the warranty. And while you're at it, proceed to the nearest Volvo dealer and scout for a certified pre-owned S40 to avoid some potential headaches.

Since this vehicle shares parts with the Ford Focus and the Mazda 3, you can ask online forums if you can interchange them, but if possible, stick 100% to original Volvo parts. There are no known problems but just have some concern with the basic worn-out parts and if possible, chug this car with premium fuel.

Exterior and Interior
Short on length but sporty in execution, that's what the Volvo S40 is all about. Notice about the outside design with some short overhangs located in the front and rear portions of the vehicle, large wheel arches, and top it off with some clean styling. This car does not grab attention, making it a quiet cruiser.

Quality and simplicity rules the S40's cabin, a strength of most Swedish vehicles. High quality controls and a logically placed position for them makes a good combination. Topping this off is an aluminum treatment (true aluminum, not fake or just foil) and a "floating"center console that frees up space at the back. Front space is decent but the ones in the rear have to suffer with some less than comfortable space for their knees.

All Philippine market S40's have a B5244S 2,435cc I5 that possess 170hp at 6,000rpm and 230Nm at 4,400rpm. There is also a 2.5 I5 turbo available but through an indent order, you'll encounter this engine less while having your unit hunting. There is nothing special about this engine that it is one smooth operator but it is not as fast as others. This one is for the highway cruising, not for the drag strips.

Driving Impressions
Driving this baby on the straight line does show its strengths but go to a corner, you'll see its apparent weakness, exhibiting tons of body roll that may cause some understeer. Good thing for that is the standard stability control to keep things steady but it turns back to the event in which the car detects some slippage in the front wheels. While the transmission is responsive, give it a push and you'll get a delay in power delivery, similar to a turbo lag, except this car does not have any turbocharger.

Finding for a classy highway cruiser? The S40 is one good candidate especially that prices had fallen thanks to the depreciation that the first owner took. If you want some excitement behind the wheel, forget about this car.

The Good: 
  • The quiet luxury car
  • Solid
  • More German than Swedish
The Bad: 
  • This car does not want to have fun
  • Tight rear seat
  • Dull handling
The Pick: 2.4 variant

Engines: 1,984cc I4 and 2,435cc B5244S I5 gasoline
Power: 170hp @ 6,000rpm 
Torque: 230Nm @ 4,400rpm 
Fuel Consumption: 5-7km/L (city), 7-10km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Suspension: Front independent McPherson strut, rear independent multi-link

Price (New): P2,000,000-P2,500,000
Price (Now): P580,000-P850,000
Rivals: BMW 3 Series, Mercedes Benz C Class, Audi A4
On Sale: Late 2004-2012

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