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Used Volvo S40 Saloon 1996 - 2004 review

(1996 - 2004)
Volvo S40 Saloon (96 - 04)
Review continues below...

Which used Volvo S40 saloon should I buy?

There is quite a maze of engines and revisions to navigate, but if you want a car that rides and handles well, versions built before autumn 2000 are a no-no. As well as re-worked suspension, models from 2001 onwards also had new bumpers and improved interiors. A further freshen-up followed in April 2002 with a new grille and more equipment.

All models have four airbags, electric front windows and a height-adjustable driver's seat. Air-con was added from September 1998, and we recommend getting an SE model; one built after 1998 will have a CD-player.

As for engines, true petrolheads will doubtless head straight for the fastest engine in the S40, the 200bhp turbocharged T4. But, the trouble is the chassis was never able to cope with it. Instead, we prefer the 160bhp 2.0-litre engine, which is lightly turbocharged and gives decent performance without over-taxing the chassis.

The less powerful 140bhp version is fine, too, as is the 125bhp 1.8-litre GDI. But, give the others a miss: the 1.6 is slow, as is the non-turbo 1.9 diesel; the turbo version is faster, but has poor refinement.

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Which used Volvo S40 saloon should I buy?

There is quite a maze of engines and revisions to navigate, but if you want a car that rides and handles well, versions built before autumn 2000 are a no-no. As well as re-worked suspension, models from 2001 onwards also had new bumpers and improved interiors. A further freshen-up followed in April 2002 with a new grille and more equipment.

All models have four airbags, electric front windows and a height-adjustable driver's seat. Air-con was added from September 1998, and we recommend getting an SE model; one built after 1998 will have a CD-player.

As for engines, true petrolheads will doubtless head straight for the fastest engine in the S40, the 200bhp turbocharged T4. But, the trouble is the chassis was never able to cope with it. Instead, we prefer the 160bhp 2.0-litre engine, which is lightly turbocharged and gives decent performance without over-taxing the chassis.

The less powerful 140bhp version is fine, too, as is the 125bhp 1.8-litre GDI. But, give the others a miss: the 1.6 is slow, as is the non-turbo 1.9 diesel; the turbo version is faster, but has poor refinement.

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here