Until a few years ago, there was a distinct schism between the non-premium and premium sedans. However, in recent years, that gap has been bridged, with the introduction of several attractively priced four-door sedans with luxury features. The 2011 Volvo S40 falls in this class, and has a bit more to offer than other domestic, run-off-the-mill models. However, it doesn’t have the sophistication most of its European peers boast of. The niche positioning, in fact, poses some problems for the car.
Fans of Scandinavian car designs would most likely find the design of the 2011 Volvo S40 very appealing. The floating waterfall center-stack is unique to all Volvo models. It’s also indicative of the company’s novel aesthetic. This look sets the cabin of the S40 apart from that of its competitors. The two-tone leather interior of the R-design trim, with a generous serving of the youthful Volvo spirit, makes for a more intriguing space. The climate control functions are easy to operate and attractive in their simplicity. However, the optional navigation system is burdened with outdated menus and graphics, and unintuitive controls.
The T5 R-Design trim includes all the components of the T5 Trim, and further spices up the vehicle with rear and front spoilers, a sport steering wheel, side skirts, aluminum pedals, and unique watch-dial gauges. Both trims can be fitted with the Climate package that has headlight washers, heated front seats, and automatic climate control and wipers. Opting for the Multimedia package will give you a 10-speaker premium stereo system, as well as a navigation system that offers real-time traffic updates. Standalone options include adaptive xenon headlights, 18-inch wheels, keyless entry/ignition, satellite radio, blind-spot detection, and rear parking sensors, coupled with power-folding mirrors.
Body styles: sedan
Engines: 2.5-liter five-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed automatic
Models: Volvo S40 T5, Volvo S40 T5 R-Design
For 2011 Volvo has discontinued both the base model S40 2.4i model and the AWD version of the T5 R-Design.
The standard T5 model of the 2011 Volvo S40 is fitted with fog lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, and heated outside mirrors.
The standard T5 model has an eight-way power driver seat with memory, air-conditioning, neoprene-like T-Tec upholstery, tilt-and-telescoping steering, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, cruise control, auxiliary/USB input jacks, an eight-speaker audio system with Bluetooth, and a CD player. Opting for the Preferred package also gives you leather upholstery, power passenger seating, and a sunroof.
The interior of the 2011 Volvo S40 is well constructed, and consists of high quality materials. The seats of the car are well shaped for smooth long-distance driving. They also offer plenty of support to the driver and passengers. The T-Tec upholstery in the entry-level S40 model is a boon in hot weather, and also holds the passengers firmly in place during the turning of sharp corners. This, in fact, is a worthy alternative to the leather option. However, the trunk capacity is somewhat disappointing, holding just 12.6 cubic feet of cargo.
Performance & Handling
With the cancellation of the base engine in the 2010 version, the 2011 Volvo S40 can now be purchased only with a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-5 engine that can generate 227 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. The standard automatic five-speed transmission system provides power to the front wheels. The all-wheel drive is no longer available. The 2011 Volvo S40 can go from zero to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds.
Stability and traction control and antilock disc brakes are standard equipment in all the 2011 Volvo S40s. Other safety features include a full-length head curtain and front-seat side airbags. There’s also a whiplash-reducing frontal head restraint. The blind-spot warning system is an optional accessory across the lineup.
While the S40 is yet to be rated according to the government’s new and more stringent crash testing rules, the 2010 version of the same car received a four star rating, out of a possible five, for driver protection during the frontal crash tests. It was also awarded five stars for rear and front-impact protection. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests, the 2011 Volvo S40 got the best ?good? rating in the frontal-offset test, and a second-best ‘Acceptable’ rating in the side-impact tests.
EPA Fuel Economy
Volvo S40: 21/30 mpg city/highway
- Front seats are very comfortable
- Wide array of safety features
- Peppy turbocharged engine
- Stylish looks inside and out
You Won't Like
- Priced a bit high for being slightly less than a luxury sedan
- Handling is not up to standards of a sport sedan
- Navigation system has an awkward interface
While it may lack the power and refinement of some European luxury sport sedans, the 2011 Volvo S40 is a stylish, comfortable model with a lively engine.
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