2008 Volvo S40
With dynamical conception, superiority and class-leading condom, the Volvo S40 pub is a genuine Volvo and one that asserts a alone indistinguishability in the ontogeny agio contract course.
Self-praise a four-door bodyshell in a sphere presently henpecked by iii or five-door alternatives, it appeals to jr. customers who need a car that combines the practicality of a four-door taproom with the flair, solace and nuance afforded by a bounty brand.
“Agiotage car buyers power opt for a littler modeling, but they won’t admit compromises,” aforementioned Hans-Olov Olsson, the CEO and Prexy of Volvo Car Corp at the S40’s launching at the Frankfurt centrifugal display in September 2003. “Gratefully, with the Volvo S40, they won’t get to.”
The Volvo S40 is uncommitted in S, SE, SE Lux, R-DESIGN Athletics and R-DESIGN SE Athletics passementerie levels, with engines ranging from 1.6-litre gasoline and diesel to the high-performance five-cylinder, 2.5-litre T5, and including iii new options for 2007: a 2.0-litre, 145 PS, four-cylinder gasolene, the 2.4-litre, 180 PS, five-cylinder D5 turbodiesel and the environmentally well-disposed 1.8 Flexifuel locomotive.
The S40 taproom is produced at Volvo’s Ghent set in Belgium, and since it arrived in UK showrooms in early 2004 it has go one of Volvo’s nigh democratic models in the UK – the indorsement best-selling manakin in the reach in 2007 (1st V50, 3rd XC90) – with 4,688 cars sold, while globally Volvo sold a total of 63,062 S40’s in 2007.
2008 Volvo S40
The Volvo S40 is a tribute to Volvo’s talented and multi-cultural design teams in Gothenburg, Barcelona and California, who have captured the premium values of a contemporary Volvo saloon in a compact package. It is a dramatic, dynamic shape that asserts its own identity but remains every inch a genuine Volvo.
The exterior of the Volvo S40 can best be described as evolutionary. It draws its inspiration from the larger, award-winning Volvo S60 and S80 saloons, and from the classic Scandinavian design values of elegance and simplicity. The Volvo badge on the centre of the prominent diagonal across the grille is a feature of every Volvo, as are the strong ‘shoulders’ which enhance the feeling of power and safety. The unique sculptured rear lamp clusters merge seamlessly with the bodywork and are instantly recognisable as Volvo.
But for all its familiarity, the Volvo S40 also manages to assert its own distinct personality. Viewed from above, the body resembles the shape of a boat hull, with a rounded prow, a broad midship section and a narrowing stern. Together with the broad shoulders, this ‘hull shape’ promotes an impression of power and dynamism as well as contributing to the Volvo S40’s excellent aerodynamics: the drag coefficient is Cd 0.31. Unusually in the Volvo range, the doors are convex rather than concave, which maximises the cabin width while emphasising the shape’s compact appeal.
The latest Volvo S40 is 48mm shorter than the original, but it is 54mm wider and 44mm taller. The wheelbase, meanwhile, is a mighty 78mm longer, to the benefit of both driving dynamics and passenger accommodation. The latter is also enhanced by the cab-forward profile, which necessitated a short bonnet and some clever mechanical packaging.
While maximising passenger accommodation, the Volvo S40’s profile also serves to highlight the car’s natural sporting dynamics.
“Anyone looking at the Volvo S40 from the side gets the impression of a comet on the move,” says Steve Mattin, Volvo’s Design Director. “The gently rounded nose, the sweeping lines and the abrupt tail generate a vibrant sensation of speed.”
Customers wishing to emphasise the sporting credentials of their Volvo S40 are offered unique exterior Sport styling accessories – fitted as standard to the R-DESIGN Sport and R-DESIGN SE Sport models. This cleverly integrated bodykit includes front and rear spoilers, side skirts and a boot-lid spoiler, all of which are painted to match the colour of the car.
Driving Dynamics: Engines
The Volvo S40 is available with a range of high-tech engines that reflect its role as a premium alternative. Three new engines joined the range in 2007: a 145 PS 2.0-litre petrol, a five-cylinder 180 PS D5 turbodiesel and a 125 PS 1.8 Flexifuel engine. Lining up next to these is a five-cylinder petrol engine – the T5 – providing an unrivalled combination of power and refinement. Then there are 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines, a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, plus a 2.0-litre 136 PS turbodiesel that boasts second-generation common-rail technology for maximum refinement and economy with low emissions. All diesel engines are Euro IV compliant.
2.0 and D5
The 145PS, four-cylinder, 2.0-litre petrol engine with manual transmission and the 2.4-litre, 180PS, five-cylinder D5 turbodiesel joined the Volvo S40 range in 2007.
The 2.0-litre petrol delivers smooth performance (0-60 mph in 8.9 seconds) together with respectable fuel economy (a combined figure of 38.2mpg) and CO2 emissions of 176g/km.
The D5 is already familiar from its use in the Volvo S60, S80 and the rest of the Volvo range (the slight decrease in power here is a result of the restricted cooling capacity allowed by the smaller frontal area of the Volvo S40). Available in SE, SE Lux, R-DESIGN Sport and R-DESIGN SE Sport versions, it comes with a six-speed manual gearbox and delivers stunning all-round performance with 180 PS, 350 Nm of torque, 0-60mph possible in 7.5 seconds, emissions of 164 g/km and a maximum of 57.6mpg on the extra-urban cycle. Geartronic transmission is also available as an option.
The five-cylinder petrol powerplant is based on the low-friction units found in larger Volvo saloons, but were extensively revised and repackaged for installation in the Volvo S40. The latest generation is called RNC, with the ‘C’ indicating ‘Compact’.
The T5 has manual transmission as standard, however, Geartronic is available as an option. The engine boasts four valves per cylinder and dual overhead camshafts, together with CVVT (Continuously Variable Valve Timing) to maximise torque at low engine speeds and to reduce exhaust emissions.
The performance flagship of the Volvo S40 range is the 2521cc T5. it generates a potent 230 PS at 5000 rpm. The peak torque output of 320 Nm is available all the way from 1500-5000 rpm, proving that top-end thrust need not be achieved at the expense of mid-range flexibility. The manual T5 can advance from 0-60 mph in just 6.3 seconds and will reach 149 mph. But despite its high performance, it still achieves an excellent 32.5 mpg on the combined cycle.
1.6 and 1.8
The choice of petrol engines for the S40 includes four-cylinder 1.6-litre and 1.8-litre petrol units. Both offer good performance and economy – and value for money. The 1.6 provides 100PS and 150Nm of torque, 0-60mph in 11.3 seconds, emissions of 169 g/km and 39.8mpg on the combined cycle.
The larger 1.8-litre offers 125 PS and 165 Nm of torque, 0-60mph in 10.3 seconds, emissions of 174 g/km and also achieves 38.7 mpg on the combined cycle.
1.6D and 2.0D
Lining up next to the new flagship diesel engine, the D5, are the 1.6 and 2.0-litre turbodiesel engines, which offer both performance and economy. Developed in conjunction with Ford Motor Company and PSA Peugeot Citroën, they feature second-generation common-rail technology, delivering an unbeatable combination of power, refinement and frugality. The smaller 1.6-litre turbodiesel also offers strong and flexible performance, with 109 PS and plenty of flexibility provided by 240 Nm of torque from 1750 rpm. It offers the best fuel consumption of the range, with 67.3 mpg recorded on the extra-urban cycle, 57.6 mpg on the combined and 45.6mpg on the urban. The six-speed manual 2.0D has a maximum power output of 136PS and peak torque of 320Nm at just 2000 rpm; it covers the 0-60 mph increment in 8.9 seconds and can go on to reach 127mph.
But while the 2.0D’s acceleration is petrol-like, its economy underlines the value of diesel power. The Euro IV compliant 2.0D returns an excellent average of 48.7mpg on the combined cycle and a maximum of 58.9mpg on the extra-urban, and its carbon dioxide emissions are 153 g/km. This is not only great news for the environment, but also provides company car drivers with useful tax savings. A Volvo Powershift transmission was introduced as an option in 2.0D in early 2008, this six-speed unit features twin wet clutches to provide the gear changing comfort of a fully-automatic transmission with the performance of a manual gearbox.
The third engine to join the range in 2007 is the 1.8 Flexifuel. Reinforcing Volvo’s long-standing commitment to environmental care this engine runs on renewable E85 bioethanol fuel an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional fuels, emitting up to 80% less fossil carbon dioxide emissions than petrol. Choosing a Volvo S40 Flexifuel can help reduce fossil carbon dioxide emissions without having to compromise on either performance or comfort. Based on the 1.8 litre, four cylinder normally aspirated petrol engine producing 125 PS, the 1.8F runs on E85, a fuel that consists of 85% bioethanol and 15% regular petrol. Should E85 not be available, the vehicles can also use unleaded petrol – both fuels can go into the same tank in any mixture offering total flexibility. The car’s engine management system monitors the blend and automatically modifies the injection and ignition timings to optimise performance.
Driving Dynamics: Chassis
The Volvo S40 combines an engaging, dynamic driving experience with a high level of active safety, thanks to its sophisticated suspension system, high level of torsional rigidity, wide track and the latest electronic stability systems.
“A modern Volvo should obey the driver’s slightest command – immediately and without fuss,” says Peter Ewerstrand, the Volvo S40 project manager. “It should be as enjoyable to drive as it is safe. We had particularly high ambitions for the Volvo S40 and we’re more than pleased with the result. This is a car you’ll truly look forward to driving whenever you get the chance.”
The body of the current Volvo S40 is 68 per cent stiffer than that of the original thanks to advanced body design and the use of high-strength materials, including Ultra High Strength Boron Steel. This high level of torsional rigidity allows the suspension to do its job properly and its provision was integral to the Volvo S40’s design. It benefits not only the ride and handling characteristics, but also its crashworthiness.
A further contribution to the Volvo S40’s exceptional stability is provided by the wide track (1535mm front, 1531mm rear) and long wheelbase (2640mm). The former helps improve the car’s balance, enabling it to cope with high cornering forces, while providing clear and consistent feedback to the driver. The long wheelbase, meanwhile, contributes to a balanced weight distribution with a low minimal moment of inertia. In practical terms, this enhances the steering response and helps ensure that the Volvo S40 responds in a controlled, predictable manner in all circumstances, making a major contribution to active safety.
The advanced, independent suspension system employs spring struts at the front, the geometry of which has been carefully calculated to provide quick and precise steering response, enhancing the car’s sports appeal. The rear suspension is a sophisticated multi-link system. This permits a small degree of passive rear wheel steering when cornering, which helps to maximise stability and control. Anti-roll bars also feature at both ends.
DSTC, EBD and EBA
The Volvo S40’s carefully honed mechanical set-up is supported by the DSTC (Dynamic Stability and Traction Control) system, which is standard on every model. This prevents wheelspin or the risk of skidding by either braking the wheel that has lost traction (up to 25 mph) or, at speeds above 25 mph, by reducing engine power and using extra sensors to detect the onset of a skid. The system then automatically slows the appropriate wheel to restore control. It ensures that the driven wheels get exactly as much power as they can transfer to the road.
All Volvo S40s benefit from ABS brakes with EBD (Electronic Brake Distribution) and EBA (Emergency Brake Assist) which senses an emergency stop and automatically brings the car to a halt in as short a distance as possible.
Driving Dynamics: Steering, Brakes and Transmissions
The Volvo S40 uses an electro-hydraulic power steering system that has been developed to optimise driver feedback and response. This helps the driver to place the car accurately on the road and to assess the available grip.
Ventilated disc brakes are fitted at the front. The disc size is adapted to engine power and wheel rim size, up to a diameter of 16in (16.5in for D5). As you’d expect from Volvo, an anti-lock braking system is fitted as standard and this is joined by EBD (Electronic Brake Distribution), which constantly distributes braking power between the front and rear wheels to ensure maximum retardation regardless of the road conditions or how the car is laden.
Every Volvo S40 is also equipped with EBA (Emergency Brake Assist). This system automatically senses when an emergency stop is required and adjusts the braking pressure so that the car comes to a halt in the shortest possible distance.
The 1.6, 1.8, 2.0 litre petrol engines, 1.6 diesel and 1.8F are mated to the latest generation of Volvo’s five-speed manual gearbox, which has a triple synchromesh to provide faster, more positive changes.
The T5 engine uses the six-speed manual gearbox that was developed for the high-performance Volvo S60 R and V70 R. The ratios have been carefully matched to the engine’s characteristics so as to combine strong acceleration with a high top speed. The gearbox has a triple synchromesh and a reassuringly direct shift action.
The Volvo S40 2.0D is fitted with a six-speed manual (although not the same unit as that fitted to the T5). The ratios have been chosen to complement the diesel’s 320 Nm of torque and to provide effortless pull throughout the engine range. The S40 2.0D is also available with the new Volvo Powershift transmission which was introduced as an option in early 2008, this six-speed unit features twin wet clutches to provide the gear changing comfort of a fully-automatic transmission with the performance of a manual gearbox.
Operating as two parallel manual gearboxes, Powershift has twin wet clutches that work independently of one another. One clutch controls the odd gears (1, 3, 5 and reverse) while the other handles the even ratios (2, 4 and 6). The two clutches operate alternately with one engaging while the other disengages, like a slip clutch. This means that at the same time as the engine gets full power and maximum thrust in first gear, second gear is placed ready to be engaged. And when second gear has been engaged, third gear is readied, and so on. This gives a continuous flow of power without any disruption in power delivery or any torque loss. This results in extremely fast and smooth gear changes whilst maintaining acceleration allowing 0-60mph to be reached in 9.1 seconds and boasts a top speed of 127mph.
Apart from gear changing comfort and high performance, Powershift also contributes to delivering improved fuel efficiency. The Powershift Automatic offers an impressive combined fuel consumption of 47.1mpg and a CO2 figure of 159 g/km in the Volvo S40.
Powershift gives the driver an automatic transmission that permits sequential gearchanges, just like with Volvo’s Geartronic transmission. The difference is that with Powershift even manual gearchanges take place without any time or power losses. Also, unlike a conventional automatic transmission, Powershift does not need a torque converter, planetary gears or multiple wet clutches, there is also none of the added torque losses that these features bring.
The D5 turbodiesel comes as standard with a six-speed manual, with Volvo’s five-speed Geartronic transmission available as an option. The Geartronic system is fully adaptive – it automatically adjusts its shift patterns according to an individual’s driving style and can be shifted into ‘manual’ mode if required. Geartronic is also available as an option on the flagship T5.
While the exterior of the Volvo S40 could be described as evolutionary from the S60 and S80, the interior represents nothing less than a revolution in car design. Its focal point is an ultra-thin central instrument stack, which appears to be free-floating. This is a world first for the automotive sector and was previewed on the Volvo VCC (Versatility Concept Car) at the 2003 Geneva Motor Show. It is a reflection of Volvo’s Scandinavian design heritage and its commitment to premium quality.
“The super-slim format is the ultimate icon of the car and a revolution in itself,” says its chief designer, Guy Burgoyne.
The inspiration for the interior came from outside the car world. “If you want to be innovative, there is little point looking at what the competition is doing,” explains Steve Mattin, Volvo’s Design Director. “It is far more valuable to look at what they’re not doing.”
Volvo’s design teams were influenced instead by the Scandinavian design tradition of clean surfaces and uncluttered lines. They drew inspiration, for example, from the elegant simplicity of the classic compression-moulded Series 7 chair, designed by the world-famous Arne Jacobsen.
Trends in high-tech electrical equipment, such as cameras, audio systems and computers, were also studied. Notes were taken on how the designers use and combine new materials so that they form part of the user-experience. These disparate influences – classic Scandinavian style and high-tech innovation – were combined to create a radically different interior concept.
The interior is built up of several visual layers. The first is an edge that flows around the base of the windscreen and along the door frames, trimming the entire interior. This provides occupants with the impression that they are safely ensconced in a cocoon.
The second layer is the primary fascia, which is minimalist. The air vents and secondary controls are positioned in individual islands, while the main instruments are grouped in two round gauges, surrounded by contrasting metal bezels. The choice of fascia finish is also significant – Volvo has eschewed the traditional leather look in favour of a new texture that conveys a sense of cutting-edge technical innovation.
The ultra-thin central instrument stack forms the uppermost layer. Boasting a prominent position in the centre of the car, it fulfils the role of a remote control unit in a contemporary home entertainment system. Constructing such a novel feature was no easy task: “It required considerable ingenuity and hard work to find a technical solution for this super-slim format,” explains Burgoyne. But no-one will doubt that the hard work has paid dividends. The slim design creates a feeling of luxurious space and the effect is enhanced by ‘theatre style’ illumination, which discreetly draws attention to the unit.
The centre stack has a Bauxite grey metallic finish in S models, aluminium in SE models, while SE LUX models have Nordic Light Oak Trim. R-DESIGN Sport and R-DESIGN SE Sport models have the unique R-DESIGN Deco Aluminium finish.
Comfort and convenience
While the interior of the Volvo S40 places an emphasis on style, form has not been allowed to take precedence over function. The fascia ergonomics have been carefully designed and drivers will find that the controls are sensibly positioned and within easy reach. The driver’s seat is multi-adjustable and the steering wheel adjusts for both rake and reach, ensuring that drivers of all shapes and sizes can get comfortable.
The development of the ultra-thin technology enabled Volvo’s designers to introduce a useful storage area behind the central stack, which can be accessed from both front seats.
There is also plenty of room for passengers. The benefits and convenience of a four-door bodyshell in a class dominated by three or five-door alternatives should not be underestimated. At 1770mm wide (without wing mirrors) and 1454mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2640mm, the Volvo S40 offers excellent interior space. Five occupants can travel in comfort and all benefit from head restraints and a full three-point safety belt system. A rear seat belt reminder system automatically alerts the driver via a message on the instrument panel if any rear passengers are not wearing a seat belt.
With the rear seat in place, the boot capacity is 404 litres (325 litres in D5). Should the need arise, the luggage bay can also be extended. The rear seat splits into two sections and the backrest folds forwards to leave an entirely flat load floor. The Volvo S40 has a fold-flat front passenger seat, which allows loads up to 3.02m long to be carried.
Quality and Equipment
A passion for high quality lies at the heart of the Volvo brand. This is inherent not only in the build quality that reflects the ruggedness, durability and reliability for which Volvo is renowned, but also in the choice of body and trim materials. From the exquisite, free-floating centre instrument stack to the discreet ‘theatre lighting’, the Volvo S40 exudes a feeling of quality and well-being. The switchgear has a solid, chunky feel and the fascia is enveloped in soft-touch plastics, reminding occupants that they are enjoying a premium product.
Customers in the premium sector don’t compromise. While they are happy to opt for a smaller overall package, they continue to expect a high level of standard equipment. Naturally, specifications for the Volvo S40 do not disappoint, especially when compared with some other premium brands. The specification of every model includes IDIS (Intelligent Driver Information System), alloy wheels, leather steering wheel, gear knob and handbrake lever, Electronic Climate Control, Air Quality System (AQS), Performance Sound audio system with CD, electric windows and (heated) mirrors, DSTC and all Volvo safety features.
The R-DESIGN SE Sport combines all the luxury features of the SE with the unique R-DESIGN interior details and the dramatic exterior bodykit and 18in alloy wheels.
Specification changes at the 2008 model year were extensive including a reprofiled nose and chrome framed ‘egg-crate’ grille, complete with a 50 per cent larger Volvo badge. This distinctive front flanked by new clear-lensed headlamp units, while a striking full-width air intake, incorporating reworked integral fog lamps and a central mesh section, replaced the previous three-part air intake unit.
At the rear, the S40’s new tail light units – fitted with LED light emitting diode brake lights – are now smaller, with new graphics, and sit 30mm higher than previously. A new bumper and revised boot handle design as well as a more sporting exhaust pipe layout complete the visual makeover.
The cabin also benefited from a thorough revision to add more storage space and carrying versatility. The iconic ‘floating’ centre stack has revised controls and is complemented by a multi-function centre tunnel storage area, a more compact handbrake design, and a revised armrest that’s longer and further forward for greater comfort. It can also flip through 180 degrees to act as a useful table for rear passengers. As well as redesigned cupholders, there’s now a much larger storage area under the armrest, while the lower sections of the front door inside panels have been redesigned to accommodate larger items.
The 2009 model year saw the exterior emblem on the boot lid enlarge, with the letters spaced further apart to ensure that the Volvo brand is easier to spot from a distance.
Every S40 features IDIS (Intelligent Driver Information System). A motor industry first, IDIS uses technology derived from fighter aircraft. The IDIS function continuously analyses the driver’s activity by monitoring steering wheel movements, the position of the accelerator pedal, the indicator function and so on. This information is then processed and each moment is assigned an activity level.
In certain circumstances the driver can make phone calls, read text messages (not while driving) and receive traffic information. But when the road conditions require their full concentration – such as when they are braking, overtaking or manoeuvring – all non-essential signals from the telephone and peripheral systems are withheld until the incident is past. IDIS is pre-programmed to accommodate future information and telematics communication systems. The more infotainment functions the car possesses, the greater the benefit of IDIS.
The sophisticated electronic networking that makes IDIS possible also allows owners to personalise their vehicle. For example, the Volvo’s S40 central locking system can be programmed via the menu option on the centre stack to offer the following options:
The system also allows the settings for the audio system to be customised – news and traffic alerts can be selected, for instance.
Customers can pick from a vast range of optional extras, and some are conveniently grouped together to offer better value, such as the Winter, Family and Communications packs:
Hi-fi enthusiasts can upgrade to a Premium Sound system with Dolby Pro Logic II Surround SoundTM of the type introduced in the Volvo XC90. It includes a 1xCD, FM and AM radio, 5x130w amplifier, and no fewer than 12 speakers, as well as MP3/WMA compatibility and an auxiliary jack input to enable customers to connect personal MP3 players.
Volvo employs its own audio development team, rather than relying on an outside supplier, to ensure the audio systems are tailored to suit the acoustic properties of each model. As a result, all components have been tuned to produce the best possible surround sound everywhere in the car. Even rear occupants are able to hear the sensation of surround sound over the entire music frequency range.
The Dolby Pro Logic II system produces five unique sound channels. Listening to Surround Sound from the Premium Sound audio system is designed to be like sitting in the best seat in front of a live orchestra – you feel you are actually there.
An increasing number of customers will be interested in the RTI Satellite Navigation with RDS-TMC (Traffic Message Channel) which pre-warns of hold-ups and traffic incidents en route, and can re-route the driver, if required. For 2009 Model Year the RTI system gained a refresh including a new driver interface, new colours and a more premium feel to the menu and symbols.
The system uses a large, eye-level, remote-controlled colour screen that can display route information for the whole of Europe. It retracts into the top of the fascia when not in use and can be controlled using a joystick-style switch on the rear of the steering wheel, or by passengers with a remote control unit.
Already available is a bespoke, integrated telephone system, as is Volvo On Call, an advanced telematics system.
Volvo On Call – advanced telematics
Volvo On Call is a valuable personal safety feature using advanced telematics systems. The system uses an integrated GSM telephone with a built-in GPS unit for satellite positioning and ensures help is always close at hand.
Volvo On Call – safety package
Volvo On Call comes with a safety package. If an airbag or seat belt pre-tensioner is triggered in the event of an accident, Volvo On Call automatically calls the Emergency Services via BT999 and can also provide data of your location. Alternatively, pressing the red ‘SOS’ button on the integrated GSM telephone will put you straight through to the Emergency Services.
Also, if the car breaks down or you need help, pressing the Volvo On Call button will put you straight through to a Volvo On Call operator who is only a call away at any time of day to offer personal services such as route guidance, or to guide roadside assistance to you.
Volvo On Call – security package
An optional Volvo On Call security package offers the added benefits of a remote door unlock facility, theft notification and vehicle tracking. In the future, Volvo On Call’s services could include automatically contacting your local dealer when a service is required.
As you’d expect, the Volvo S40 saloon is supported by a comprehensive warranty. The standard mechanical warranty is three years/60,000 miles (whichever comes first), plus there’s a three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty on the paintwork and 12 years cover against rust perforation. In addition, all Volvos are covered by one year’s free RAC cover, which provides full breakdown and recovery assistance, anywhere in Europe, 24 hours a day.
Volvo also offers competitive Volvo Owners insurance with tailored protection, while Volvo Car Finance can make the new S40 surprisingly affordable.
Volvo’s commitment to safety is as old as the company itself. As Assar Gabrielsson, one of the founders of Volvo, declared: “Cars are driven by people. The guiding principle behind everything we make at Volvo, therefore, is – and must remain – safety.” The engineers’ safety target for the Volvo S40 was as simple as it was challenging: to replicate the high level of safety offered by the much larger Volvo S80.
“This was a tough challenge and one that we approached in an entirely new way,” says Thomas Broberg, Volvo Cars Safety Centre. In a compact bodyshell, the deformation must be absorbed in a much shorter distance than in a large car. The torsional rigidity of the current model is 68 per cent greater than it was for the original Volvo S40, which improves its crashworthiness. However, to achieve the desired deformation characteristics, Volvo’s engineers had to adopt a novel and ingenious approach to the design of the frontal structure.
The structure of the Volvo S40 has been divided into different zones, and different grades of steel were employed in each area. The outer zones are responsible for most of the deformation, while those closest to the passenger compartment are designed to remain largely intact, protecting the occupants. The zonal system is one of Volvo’s many patented safety designs:
Low-speed deformation zone – The front bumper incorporates a rigid crossmember of Boron steel (Ultra High-Strength Steel). This section takes the form of a ‘crash box’ which is capable of absorbing the forces of a low-speed collision without damaging the rest of the body structure. The crash boxes can then be replaced individually, reducing repair costs.
High-speed deformation zone – The straight sections of the side members are made of High-Strength Steel, which is optimised for high energy absorption. The addition of upper side members provides significant protection should the vehicle collide with, for example, a truck. This zone accounts for most of the deformation in a collision.
Back-up zone – The section around the A-pillar acts as a barrier for the passenger compartment. Made of extra high-strength steel, this structure is extremely rigid and also helps to prevent the front wheels penetrating the cabin.
Three-way attachment – A rigid cross-member connects the A-pillars and the lower side members. On each side they form a rigid three-way attachment, which helps to maintain the integrity of the cabin in a severe crash.
The Volvo S40’s high-tech engines also make a valuable contribution to its crash performance. The five-cylinder units are 200mm slimmer than those found in the larger Volvo saloons and this helps liberate space between the engine and passenger compartment. In a collision, the engine can be pushed 150mm rearwards with many parts, such as the battery, designed to move to pre-destined positions, before the engine block makes contact with the cross-member near the bulkhead.
Many of the advanced interior systems from the Volvo S80 have been incorporated into the design of the Volvo S40. The steering column deforms by up to 140mm in a horizontal plane, so that the driver’s airbag remains in the optimal position. In the event of a severe impact, the pedal assembly will also collapse to prevent injury to the driver’s lower legs.
The two front airbags are ‘intelligent’ and deploy in two stages according to the severity of the accident, alleviating the risk of facial injuries caused by the occupants’ faces impacting with the airbag.
The airbags are complemented by three-point safety belts with tensioners, which are fitted for all five occupants. The tensioners activate within a few thousandths of a second in the event of a collision and tighten the belt for maximum protection. The front seat safety belts then release a little so that the driver and passenger are cushioned by the airbags in a controlled manner. A seat belt reminder system is fitted for both front and rear seats – the front alerts the driver with an audio signal, while the system for the rear seats informs the driver via a message on the instrument panel.
The Volvo S40’s side impact protection is no less impressive. The current Volvo S40 is 50mm wider than the original, which liberates extra space for deformation in the event of a collision. The dynamics of the SIPS (Side Impact Protection System) are shared with the larger Volvo S80. A large part of the force of a collision that would otherwise penetrate through the side of the car is dissipated by SIPS via beams, pillars, the floor, the roof and other parts of the car body.
The side impact airbags play an important role in protecting the chests of the occupants. They are fitted in the outer edge of the front seats, not in the door, which ensures that they’re always securely positioned next to the occupant’s side, whatever the position or angle of the seat. They are also larger than they were in the original Volvo S40 to provide more effective hip and chest protection.
Further protection is provided by the IC (Inflatable Curtain) airbag, which sits in the headlining and protects both front and rear occupants. In the event of a side impact, the Curtain inflates in a few thousandths of a second and then remains inflated for about three seconds in order to provide maximum protection throughout complex collision sequences.
Should any of the airbags be deployed, the hazard lights will automatically be activated – a feature that helps attract the attention of other motorists in the event of a single-vehicle accident in the dark.
All Volvo cars tested by the International Insurance Whiplash Prevention Group (IIWPG), which includes the UK’s Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre in Thatcham, were placed in the best class of their ‘2005 Dynamic Seat Assessments’. Volvo Car Corporation was the only manufacturer to achieve this result.
“We are very pleased that the Volvo seats have performed in line with our expectations,” says Thomas Broberg, Volvo Cars Safety Centre. “Tests only show a part of what happens in real life. However, this is one of several results that confirm Volvo has the right approach to help reduce neck injuries in rear impacts.”
The Volvo S80 showcased WHIPS (Whiplash Protection System) to help prevent neck and back injuries in a rear impact, and this system is now fitted across the Volvo range. WHIPS reduces acceleration forces on the neck during a rear-end accident by about a half. In the event of an accident, the entire backrest moves rearwards to reduce the strain on the occupant’s back and neck. Then, when their back has been safely restrained by the backrest, it inclines backwards in order to reduce the force that would otherwise throw their head forwards.
The WHIPS front seats have been made deliberately robust so that they can withstand high loads from items such as unsecured luggage, but they are also capable of yielding in the event of a severe crash, when strength and flexibility are both required. “Our seats are far sturdier than those usually found in the compact segment,” says Broberg.
Volvo’s traffic accident research team compared real-life whiplash injuries from Volvos with and without WHIPS, and the results point to a clear conclusion: WHIPS reduced short-term and long-term (of more than a year) injuries by 33 per cent and 54 per cent respectively, while whiplash injuries in women were reduced by as much as 50 per cent and 75 per cent, respectively.
All Volvo car head restraints were placed in the highest category in the ‘New Car Whiplash Rating’ published by the Thatcham Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre. Static tests were carried out to measure the design and position of head restraints in 500 car models.
“We are very proud of coming out so well,” says Volvo Car Corporation’s safety engineer and whiplash specialist, Lotta Jakobsson. “Volvo has long understood how important head restraints are, and led the industry in introducing them.
“However, static evaluations of head restraints only show a part of what happens in real-life accidents. That is why Volvo has invested over a decade’s research into crash-testing and analysis of real accidents, and introduced its Whiplash Protection System – ‘WHIPS’.”
In October 2002, the United States Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) compared car seats with and without whiplash protection, and achieved an average injury reduction of 49 per cent.
Like Volvo, the Swedish insurance company, Folksam, also compared real-life accidents, and showed that WHIPS seats reduced whiplash injury by 40 per cent. In 2003, Folksam crash-tested seats from a number of different manufacturers’ cars, and Volvo seats were considered the best. An overall whiplash injury reduction in the region of 50 per cent was thought possible, if all cars had seats as good as Volvo’s.
To aid driver safety Volvo has developed BLIS (Blind Spot Information System), the first system of its kind to be introduced to help avoid the risks of accidents caused by blind spots.
BLIS uses an intelligent digital camera system incorporated into both door mirrors to constantly monitor the area alongside the car for other vehicles or motorbikes and, if it detects any, alerts the driver via an orange light housed in the car’s A-pillar by the door mirror.
The Volvo S40 has been designed to minimise the risk of injury to pedestrians and cyclists in the event of an accident. The smoothly shaped front has an energy-absorbing structure ahead of the bumper which serves to reduce the risk of leg injuries. The bonnet and front wings have also been designed to absorb collision energy and the petrol-engined models have a generous amount of free space between the top of the cylinder head and the bonnet, which reduces the risk of pedestrian head injuries.
A passenger airbag cut-off switch is available to enable a child seat to be carried in the front of the car, while, in the rear, Volvo has also paid special attention to child safety with the option of an integrated booster cushion built into the rear centre armrest designed for children aged between 4 and 10.
In addition, two integrated booster cushions are available for the rear seats as part of an optional ‘Family Pack’.
Volvo’s holistic approach to vehicle design also extends to the field of personal security and it has won overall ‘Best Manufacturer’ in the annual British Insurance Car Security Awards (BISCA) two years running (2004 and 2005).
The Volvo S40 was engineered in association with Thatcham, the world-leading automotive and technology centre, and the car is fitted as standard with a wide range of features designed to protect occupants from burglary, theft and assault.
An electronic immobiliser makes it impossible to start the car without the correct key, while deadlocks make it more difficult to break in. If a thief does manage to get in, via a window, for example, the deadlock system makes it impossible to open a door from the inside. The Volvo S40 is also equipped with electronic ‘anti-theft’ marking and uniquely identified control modules, while the audio equipment is an integral part of the on-board electrical system.
The sophisticated locking system of the Volvo S40 can be individually tailored across a wide range of settings. For example, the remote control can be set so that a single ‘blip’ opens all the doors, or just the driver’s, and the indicators can be set to flash when the doors are locked or unlocked. It is also possible to set the doors to lock automatically when the car pulls away and to open and close the windows with the remote. As an option, the Volvo S40 can be equipped with laminated side windows, which are extremely difficult to smash. This is an unusual feature on a car in this sector.
Another important contribution to personal security is provided by the Home Safe and Approach lighting system. By pressing a button on the remote control when approaching the car, the driver is able to turn on the inside lights, the side marker lights and the lights in the rear-view mirrors. On leaving the car, a tweak of the headlight stalk activates the dipped-beam headlamps, lighting a path to the door. The headlamps can be set by the driver to stay on for 30, 60 or 90 seconds.
Volvo On Call
Volvo On Call is an advanced telematics system and another valuable personal security feature. It uses an integrated GSM telephone with a built-in GPS unit for satellite positioning, and ensures help is always close at hand.
Volvo On Call comes with a standard safety and an optional security package: If an airbag or seat belt pre-tensioner is triggered in the event of an accident, Volvo On Call automatically calls the Emergency Services via BT999 and can also provide data of your location.
Alternatively, pressing the red ‘SOS’ button on the integrated GSM telephone will put you straight through to the Emergency Services.
Also, if the car breaks down or you need help, pressing the Volvo On Call button will put you straight through to a Volvo On Call operator who is only a call away at any time of day to offer personal services such as route guidance, or to guide roadside assistance to you. An optional Volvo On Call security package offers the added benefits of a remote door-unlock facility, theft notification and vehicle tracking.
These simple but effective security features offer considerable peace of mind and contribute to the comfort and convenience of owning a Volvo S40.