Volvo will début the latest incarnation of its long-running S40 medium saloon range at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month. Will it add more spice to the competitive mid-range melee?

Volvo will début the latest incarnation of its long-running S40 medium saloon range at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month. Will it add more spice to the competitive mid-range melee?


The Swedish manufacturer on Tuesday released the first photographs of its all-new sedan and reports suggest that it will

take a big step forward in terms of interior design and safety, but retain the five-cylinder engines and four-wheel drive system of its predecessor.


The current S40 was launched in 1995 and the new car - which bears a strong resemblance to its S60 and S80 siblings - will be launched in South Africa in mid 2004, Volvo Car South Africa spokesman Nicole Heys said.


"With the new Volvo S40, we offer our customers large car benefits in a compact format. This, combined with an exciting design and exceptional road manners, makes the new S40 a highly potent challenger in this segment," says Volvo Cars President & CEO Hans-Olov Olsson.

Will the success of BMW's 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz's C-Class, Audi's A4, Citroën's C5, Peugeot's 406 and Alfa Romeo 156 be threatened by the introduction of the S40, which Volvo is aiming specifically at younger buyers in the medium saloon market?


"We want to attract customers into the Volvo family as early as possible, and the new Volvo S40 will definitely appeal to younger buyers," said Olsson.


Volvo says the interior of the new S40 is "a revolution, with a slim free-floating centre console - the first of its kind in the automotive world".

"The centre console is a design icon for the new Volvo S40," says Henrik Otto, Design Director at Volvo Cars. "We intend to pursue our position as inaugurators in the car design world, not looking at what our competitors are doing. It is therefore far more valuable to keep an eye on what they're not doing."

Structurally speaking, four different grades of steel are used in the S40's frontal structure to provide maximum safety for the car's occupants.


"Our goal is that the new Volvo S40 should be the safest car in its class, offering precisely the same safety levels as our larger models but within more compact dimensions," Olsson said.

The new Volvo S40 will be introduced with a choice of 5-cylinder engines with the 162 kW T5 model topping the range, as well as a 4-cylinder turbodiesel producing 100 kW.

The Volvo S40 T5 will also be available in an AWD version, with Volvo's electronically controlled four-wheel drive, and with a six-speed manual gearbox.


In 2004, the new Volvo S40's engine range will be supplemented with four-cylinder petrol engines. The cars will be built in the Volvo Cars factory in Ghent, Belgium, which was recently modernised at a cost of R2,75 billion.


The new Volvo S40 is the first in a range of new Volvo models sharing common technology. It will be followed by the new Volvo V50, a compact sports wagon, in 2004, Heys said in a statement.