For a company that made its reputation selling large, capacious estates, as a small saloon the Volvo S40 was something different. Billed as a rival for the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4, it never quite it the target.
Although the two very different generations of S40 weren’t Volvo’s first small saloon offerings, they were significantly more popular and better received than the 460 saloon before them.
Appearing in 1996, the first S40 was based on the jointly-developed underpinnings of the humble Mitsubishi Carisma, the pair built at a factory in the Netherlands. The range of petrol and diesel engines came from Volvo, Mitsubishi and the Swedish firm’s former partner, Renault.