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Avg. Price Paid:$9,543 - $11,865
Original MSRP: $24,365 - $30,365
MPG: 20 City / 28 Hwy
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2008 Volvo S40 Performance

This performance review was written when the 2008 Volvo S40 was new.

It's not a hot rod, but the S40 has decent performance to satisfy most drivers' needs. Car and Driver says the car is "pleasing rather than exciting, with decent steering and willing engines." Most test drivers are especially impressed with the T5 models.

Acceleration and Power

The 2008 Volvo S40 has two engines: the 2.4i's five-cylinder engine that makes 168 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque, and the T5 models' turbocharged five-cylinder with 227 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. Test drivers say the S40's base engine will be sufficient for many. Kelley Blue Book explains, "The standard 2.4-liter engine is adequate for the casual driver, but lacks the low-end punch needed for quick bursts of speed when passing or merging." Edmunds adds, "For those looking to keep the price low, the base engine will be perfectly adequate, though."

The T5's engine received an additional nine horsepower for the 2008 model, and the change doesn't go unnoticed on test drives. Edmunds says the new 227 horsepower engine "hardly makes the S40 a rocket, but we'll always endorse more power" Kelley Blue Book suggests, "If you can swing the extra cash, opt for the T5 - its turbocharged engine brings the little S40 to life."

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the two-wheel drive S40 should get 20 miles per gallon in the city and 28 on highways with the base engine. The T5's engine helps the S40 get 19 mpg in the city and 27 on highways. The S40 rates at 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway when using an automatic transmission and all wheel drive.

In previous years the S40 came with a standard six-speed manual transmission, but now the base model has a five-speed manual and has the option for the T5's standard five-speed "Geartronic" automatic. Reviewers like Edmunds don't write much on the offered transmissions' performance, but they do gripe that there is no option for a manual with the higher trims. Kelley Blue Book elaborates: "Unfortunately, the Geartronic manual shift mode is not as quick nor as fun to drive as the discontinued six-speed manual. The T5's five-speed Geartronic automatic is not as quick as Audi's DSG manual-shift transmission, but it's the only choice for those who prefer shifting their own gears." However, the automatic is generally described as suitable for the base trim. Cars.com says, "Even when equipped with the automatic transmission, the S40 2.4i accelerates with spirit."

Handling and Braking

With a MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension, rack-and-pinion steering, and four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes, the 2008 S40 is confident on the road. Although test drivers do not report a thrilling experience inside the S40, they do comment on the car's stability. Cars.com finds the S40 "maneuvers easily and delivers appealing control." Kelley Blue Book writes the S40 "is one serious automobile, well suited for both the highway and twisting back roads. Stable and solid on the road, the S40 T5's steering yields sharp reasonably quick responses."

According to New Car Test Drive, the S40's brakes are "excellent," an opinion several share. Consumer Guide also finds the ventilated disc, anti-lock brakes "ease speed quickly with fine stability."

All-Wheel Drive

Reviews are positive about the S40's all-wheel drive trim. Kelley Blue Book lists all-wheel drive as one of its favorite features, noting "even if required only occasionally, all-wheel drive enhances the Volvo's feeling of security. Most of the time, you don't even realize all-wheel drive is present." The Washington Post notes how the system works "quietly, automatically shifting and adjusting drive power where needed, as needed," and the Boston Herald says the T5's all-wheel drive is best "when you push the S40 coming out of a bend. In such maneuvers, this Volvo swerves with confidence."

Performance Options

T5 Dynamic Sport Suspension

Most test drivers say the T5's suspension has a little too much edge. In Edmunds' view, "Those who like to drive hard will probably prefer the firmer sport suspension … but the downside is a harsh ride when the pavement falls short of being pristine." Car and Driver has a similar experience, noting "T5 models ride harshly and aren't as sporty as Volvo claims."

Review Last Updated: 2/17/09

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