Volvo just keep on proving that when it comes to releasing sports derivatives of family focused saloons they really do know what their doing, the S40 T5 is no exception, I actually owned a previous model T5 which I totally loved, all bar the colour that is, having decided in a moment of madness that Banana yellow was simply the colour that I had to have.
The new S40 T5 is even better than the old T5 it feels a lot bigger sturdier and far more aggressive, it also has a sense of luxury about it that was sorely missing in the previous T5, it's airier inside and just feels more spacious. Volvo have always been generous with the standard spec on models but with the T5 they really have gone overboard, there's enough gadgets and gizmo's to keep any 18yr old chicken who may be sat in the passenger seat quietly entertained for a lengthy car trip. Space wise it's still got a cavernous boot and plenty of room to seat 5 adults in leather-clad comfort ensuring you and your posse arrive at your destination ready to club the night away.
Interior wise it would be a crime if I didn't mention the super space age ultra thin floating centre instrument stack, the stack which houses an outstanding audio system, phone, air con and onboard computer that allows you to totally tailor everything from whether the lights stay on when you lock the car to whether the doors lock automatically when your driving, is a worlds first and it does totally change the look of the interior, with everything feels very modern and stylish, overall the interior is outstanding and is a real credit to Volvo's design team.
Engine wise the 220bhp 2.5 litre unit in the T5 is a great lively engine staying punchy and sharp through all the gears, it's mated to the smoothest of gearboxes that makes changing gear pure pleasure, it does lack kick in 6th but hey nothings perfect and changing down to 5th will give you the required oomph. 0-62mph is taken care of in a not to shabby 6.8 seconds and fuel economy is excellent with the T5 doing 32mpg (combined).
Because it's a Volvo the list of safety features just goes on and on and build quality is second to none, however unlike its big brother the S60R which is just pure perfection on wheels, the S40 T5 has 2 very irritating features, the first of which is the strange placement of the ignition which Volvo have placed on the left of the steering wheel in the middle of the dash next to the CD slot, this means that every time you plug in or remove the magnetic key you have to reach round the steering wheel and behind the stalk which houses the controls for the lights, it's a real pain an although towards the end of my week I'd finally stopped smashing my fingers into the light stalk and steering wheel every time I removed the key from the ignition, it still makes you wonder why they put it there!!
However this pales into insignificance when compared to the placement of the SIM card holder for the in-car phone system, which is: a) Housed in the very back corner of the black interior of the glove box b) Black in colour so it blends invisibly into the glove box.
I spent the first 4 days hunting trying to find it and when I finally did I had to empty everything out of the glove box to get at it, which I had to do from the passenger seat as it's impossible to reach from the driver seat. Now if like me you don't have 2 SIM cards or you just can't be bothered with all the hassle that switching from one to the other brings then you are out of luck and you'll be purchasing a 2nd "car" mobile in order to use your new car phone or buying a Bluetooth kit for the car.
Overall because it's such a great car and a lovely place to be I can forgive 2 minor mistakes and see what a true feather in Volvo's cap the S40 is.
The Volvo S40 range starts at £15,503 OTR with the fully loaded top of the range S40 T5 SE Sport costing a Triga DVD under £30,000