Competition is tough especially for the executive sedan category. Usually, the German car companies and other top car manufacturers from around the world dominate the sedan market. But with the release of the Volvo S40 in 1995, the Swedish brand was able to penetrate the industry and secure a generous amount of market shares.
From 4 to 40: first generation (1995-2004)
Originally, the Volvo S40 was part of the S4 and F4 series. But due to some label conflicts with Audi and Ferrari, the names were changed to S40 for the sedan version and V40 for the station wagon variant. The Volvo S40 falls under the compact executive car category. Its features and design are very far from the typical boxy outlines of most Volvo vehicles. Volvo patrons were captured by its sleeker and curvier contour, which made the driving experience more enjoyable. Both the S40 and the V40 were manufactured at the company’s factory in Holland. Because Volvo was in a joint venture with Mitsubishi during this period, the S40 and the V40 were built on the Mitsubishi Carisma platform.
The millennium gave the Volvo S40 a bigger headlight assembly and a redesigned fascia. For the 40 series’ Phase II versions, direct fuel injection, larger brake discs and tires, and brand-new front steering and suspension systems became standard. Engine-wise, the S40 was equipped with a four-cylinder engine, which was available in different variants like the 1.9-liter turbo diesel engine, 2.0-liter, 1.9-liter T4, and 2.0-liter T engines. The European version of the Volvo S40 was available in XS, SE, and CD trim levels, and had a five-speed manual transmission variant. This, however, was not permitted in the North American S40 models.
The racing champ
Volvo took the risk as it made a racing car variation of the S40. This performance car version debuted in the British Touring Car Championship in 1997. The race car variant of the Volvo S40 did not disappoint as it won the championship in 1998, with the famous Rickard Rydell as the driver. Consequently, it became the very first vehicle to be given a whopping four stars by the EURO-NCAP.
The glorious last years: second generation (2004-2012)
The second and last generation of the Volvo S40 marked its highest point as it garnered several awards like the 2005 Canadian Car of the Year Best New Sport Compact Car award and the 2005 South African Car of the Year award from the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists. These recognitions can be attributed to the new Volvo P1 platform of the latest S40 models. Aside from the new P1 platform, the second generation S40 models received the latest five-cylinder engines developed by Volvo and a top-of-the-line transmission system from Getrag.
2008 gave a generous number of upgrades for the Volvo S40. The executive sedan received a more spacious storage area, enhanced audio and entertainment systems, and an emergency brake light. The Active Bi-Xenon headlights and the side-view mirror camera called the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) were offered as options. In 2010, the S40 units for the 2011 model year received a revitalized engine range. The new engine options include a Flexible-fuel engine, four diesel engines, and three petrol engines. The production and distribution of the Volvo S40 for the North American market ended with the 2011 model.