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Volvo: The S40/ V40: Phase II  

Time for the presentation of the Volvo S40 and V40, phase II

As Volvo's successful members of the compact class - the Volvo S40 and V40 - now enter the second phase of their life cycle, they do so with large-scale modifications.

The inflatable curtain is being introduced as standard and the engine programme, which was previously one of the most extensive on the market, now features two new diesel versions with common rail technology.


Volvo's S40
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On the whole, it would be true to say that the changes to the Volvo S40 and V40 go much further than a quick glance can reveal. 

Volvo's new S40
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The project itself has been in progress for three years. The test vehicles have been driven roughly 2,500,000 km - corresponding to about sixty times around the globe. These cars have been tested on three different continents (Europe, North America and Australia), in fifteen countries and in climates ranging from biting cold (-30 C) to scorching heat (+45 C).

Safety developed still further

The Volvo S40 and V40 were introduced back in 1995 and they have been very successful. Their design has been acclaimed, their quality has been shown to be top class and, when it comes to safety, these cars have been among the very best in their class. If this was not apparent before, it became obvious in the EuroNCAP test in 1997. Fourteen cars of this size were tested and only the Volvo S40 and V40 were awarded top marks (four stars).

Volvo's new V40  
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However, this does not stop Volvo continuing to develop its safety systems. Last year, WHIPS - Volvo's award-winning whiplash protection system - was introduced in these cars. Another important step has now been taken. Volvo's Inflatable Curtain, which further improves side-impact protection, will be introduced as standard on all versions in the Volvo S40 and V40 range.

Dual Stage Airbag System

Other news in the field of safety includes the Dual Stage Airbag System, which will optimise safety for drivers and front seat passengers in the event of a frontal collision. The main difference between regular airbags and this one is that the Dual Stage Airbag System adapts airbag deployment to the level of crash violence.

Volvo's new V40  
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 The third new safety system, which is now being introduced, is the provision for ISOFIX - a standardised installation system for child safety seats. When child safety seats are attached with straps and belts, there is always a danger that something will be done incorrectly, thereby jeopardising the child's safety. With ISOFIX, this risk is greatly reduced, if not eliminated.

Two new diesel engines

The engine programme also includes some important news. Two new diesels are being introduced and extensive changes are being made to turbocharged petrol engines. Both new diesels will have a displacement of 1.9 litres. One of them develops 85 kW (115 bhp) and has a torque of 265 Nm, while the other offers 75 kW (102 bhp) and torque of 215 Nm. Both these engines are based on the most modern technological solutions, including common rail. Fuel consumption for both diesel engines is 5.4 l/100 km.

The T4 high-pressure turbo will be given a larger displacement, up from 1.9 to 2.0 litres. Power output and torque remain the same (147 kW/200 bhp/300 Nm). Twin-scroll turbo technology is being introduced on both manual and automatic T4 versions. These changes produce improved response, improved starting capability and lower fuel consumption. The 2.0T (1.9T in the USA) light-pressure turbo has also been improved in a number of ways, with higher torque and more horsepower, along with lower fuel consumption. The new version of this engine delivers 121 kW/165 bhp/240 Nm, an increase from 118/160/230. In addition, fuel consumption is down from 8.7 litres/100 km to 8.3 with a manual gearbox and from 9.5 to 9.2 with an automatic.

New five-speed automatic

The Volvo S40 and V40 are also being introduced with a new adaptive five-speed, electronically-controlled automatic transmission.

The new gearbox offers benefits in two main areas.

Comfort is enhanced as a result of more precise shift control and shorter steps between the gears. When driving at higher speed, the noise level is reduced as a result of the higher top-gear ratio.

Performance is improved. Acceleration is better thanks to the lower first gear and the closer steps between the gears.

The new transmission also reduces fuel consumption, especially in conjunction with cruising on the open road. The five-speed automatic will be available with 1.8- and 2.0-litre, naturally-aspirated engines and turbocharged petrol engines.

Improved comfort and handling

The entire front suspension has been upgraded. For example, the McPherson struts, the lower wishbone and the steering housing are all new. These changes and the new geometry, which makes it possible for springs and shock absorbers to work more freely and effectively, produce the improved comfort and driving characteristics. The new chassis is also better at handling poor road surfaces, joints in the road surface and so on.

"This has enabled us to extend the wheelbase by 12 mm and the track width at the front by 18 mm. Taken as a whole, these changes mean that we can use larger tyre dimensions - 195/55 are being replaced by either 185/65 or 195/60 depending on the engine version - to improve comfort still further. What's more, in order to obtain the right balance in the car, we have made certain adjustments to the rear-wheel suspension," Moret explains.


The Volvo S40 and V40 are also quieter - partly as a result of the upgraded engine suspension. The noise level from engine and wheels has also been reduced using new and improved noise insulation between engine compartment and interior and as a result of the new front suspension. The new common rail diesels and the upgraded turbocharged petrol engines are also quieter than their predecessors.

Subtle changes in design

On the interior, many areas have been given a new design in order to increase the elegance and the feeling of quality.

For example, the dashboard has been given a facelift, which gives it an attractive new look, combined with improved ergonomics and functionality. The tunnel console is completely new - higher than the old one and more versatile. The padding in the seat has been upgraded for greater comfort and quality. Two new upholsteries have also been developed to give the car an elegant aura of quality - Visby, a fabric with leather trim on the cushions and backrest, and Bornholm, an exclusive plush fabric.

On the exterior, several details have been redesigned in order to give the cars a fresh appearance. For example, the front and rear bumpers have been remodelled, together with the front wings. All in all, these changes give the cars a more muscular look.

Other things that make the cars look fresh are the new side mouldings, the larger side marker lamps, the new alloy wheels, the restyled tail-lights and three new body colours (Peacock green/blue, Atlantic blue and Desert Wind).

"Over the years, the Volvo S40 and V40 have been acclaimed for their design. So we have chosen to make subtle changes and just add some freshness to their looks and make the relationship with Volvo's larger cars more obvious," explains chief designer Peter Horbury.

(26 April 2000)

 all photos: Volvo Car Corp.

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