This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Volvo S40 (04-12) review.

Parkers overall rating: 3 out of 5 3.0

The 1.6 is a bit of struggle. With just 109 bhp on offer, it feels strained, especially when fully loaded. 1.8 and early 2.0 models are adequate, but won't inspire; the Mitsubishi-developed 1.8 GDI engine is quicker and more economical. The swift 2.0T is well suited to the S40 body. The range-topping 200 bhp T4 is manic but great fun to drive. Four 1.9 diesel engines are available: 1.9 TD (1997-99), 1.9 D direct injection (1999-00) and 1.9 common rail (102 and 115 bhp, from 2000 on).

Later models are preferred - they’re less workmanlike and more economical than the older Renault-developed diesels.

Standard S40 models are well suited to refined cruising; they offer a reassuring driving experience rather than an involving one. Turbo-powered 2.0T and T4 models spice up the offering and are more dynamic with a tauter (though unforgiving) chassis. Ride is suited to motorway work; it's rough when it comes to A and B roads, especially on older models.