Similar cars tried:
BMW 325i, Alfa Romeo 156, Mitsubishi Airtrek Turbo
Duration of car driven:
Car buyers in Singapore can be forgiven for mistaking that the labour cost in Belgium (where all Volvoís S40s are assembled) must be a lot lower than Germany. Priced in Singapore at about $125K with COE compared to the less powerful BMW 325i costing $50K more, the S40 T5 is a positive steal. The five cylinder turbocharged engine may not be as smooth as the BMWís normally aspirated in-line six, but it is still good enough that parent company Ford had it installed on their flagship Focus model, the ST. In this review I shanít repeat the usual comments you will not doubt have read about the car. Instead I will share with you my experience of living with one for any length of time.
The biggest annoyance with the S40 (not just the T5) is, surprisingly, the interior. Yes, it is beautifully to behold, but this beauty comes at the cost of storage space inside the car. For instance, one is hard pressed to even find a convenient place to store the very necessary stack of URA parking coupons. The early S40 also came with electronic glitzes, such as the radio and CD player occasionally failing to be detected and will only do so when the whole car is restarted. Thankfully this problem went away when I had a new version of the controller software reloaded during routine maintenance.
Another problem is the ĎGeartronicí sequential transmission. In auto mode it performs flawlessly. However in manual mode it sometimes has the tendency to get stuck on certain gears - like second going on third. This problem is circumvented either by easing the throttle and reapplying the up-shift, or by switching the transmission to auto and bypass the recalcitrant gear. This again I suspect is due to the electronics governing the transmission, unfortunately at present there is no solution to it as yet.
The S40 T5 comes with an option to lower the chassis at the factory. This option combines with factory fitted 17" Pirelli P7 tyres result in a car that inspires great confidence during cornering, and yet provides a supple enough ride over humps and pot holes - the same of which canít be said of newer German cars with run-flat tyres. There is understeer at the carís limit which is well beyond what an average driver will normally the car anyway, but no perceivable oversteer. A certain amount of torque steer is also detactable when doing very tight turns while accelerating but no more than is expected of a front wheel drive car with 320nm of torque.
All told, the S40 T5 is a very good car for the value, and worthy of your consideration. However if petrol costs (at their present sky high level) is a big issue, then the T5 might not be the best car for you. No car is not exempted from the laws of physics, so all that power has to come at a price. Averaging 14 litres to every 100KM travelled - granted my being a little lead footed and city bias travelling habits, the T5 is not a cheap car to run. But then again, if you are not planning on driving fast there is no reason to look at a compact sedan with 220 bhp in the first place.