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Thursday, September 16, 2004

Practical performance

Every once in a while comes something new, yet old. It is the paradox of our times, and it is one that aids a great marketing campaign. So, here is the million dollar question, what do you get when you merge sensible safety, tested performance and cutting edge styling?

The answer is simple: A superfly ride.

Welcome to the renewed world of Volvo. They made a comeback with the XC90 SUV, with many regarding it as the finest in its class ever built, and they are coming up to claim the younger segment with the all new 2005 S40.

Many years ago the young and hip crowd would have moved away from these 'old-timers', but now there are 2 schools of thought. The first one is that old is gold, vintage is in, and for some reason it is now sought after, the second one is, if you want to stay alive, reinvent yourself, just don't lose your values. Volvo went with the latter. Which wasn't very difficult to do, since they had a tried and tested thing going for them - safety. The list of safety features will surpass any of the Mickey Mouse advertising campaigns from their Japanese counterparts. Come on, I couldn't believe it when Toyota made an ad for ABS, in an apparent move to educate consumers about the safety features on Toyota cars. ABS, airbags, traction control systems, ventilated disc brake? That kind of technology has been around for years! Anyone watching some WRC can tell you that.

So back on track, the 2005 S40 is completely redesigned, stiffer chasis, more features, etc. You can go read it on the main website, but I'll just run through the more prominent ones. The new S40 is quite similar to the S60 in terms of styling. The rear lamps have been redesigned, the body is swept back and more dynamic, the front gets the new Volvo treatment, no protruding parts to minimize injuries in case of accidents. It is shorter, wider, taller. With the inclusion of the optional Sport kit, and some 18" rims, xenon headlamps, and the factory sub with amps and 12 speakers, you definitely have a superfly ride. Volvo knows this as well, check out the snappin' 30 second commercial with Kanye West and Dilated Peoples. Street tested, parent approved.

Interior wise, the 1" slim centre control panel is the highlight, and of course one of the selling points. This is just awe inspiring, and would definitely go well with your new G5 iMac at home. There is something about slim suspending pieces of technology. It isn't something that is extraordinary, I thought if it before, the idea really, is to eliminate space that would normally be covered with cheap plastic fittings, and free up that space for storage. They could have gone a step further and integrated an iPod dock in some Apple tie-up, but you know, can't ask for too much when they're trying their best.

The thing about the new S40 is that it resembles a Saab 9-5, in my opinion. Performance comes in a 2.4 variant, and a 2.5 T5 turbocharged unit. that's a 168bhp or 218bhp available to you. With that much power, you seriously want to know that you're safe. The T5 version goes one up, in case you were interested in an AWD unit. But of course you are. Who doesn't want superior road handling?

Well, a new breed has arrived. The S40 offers much more in a complete package that it is beyond comprehension why I would consider a lower end BMW or Audi for that matter. I am not drawn by only name, but by features and specifications. We are a new breed of shoppers, and more and more corporations are realizing that.