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New Volvo S40. Innovative interior with large car feel.
8 September 2003
- Crisp, fast lines
- Revolutionary interior design based on several layers
- Innovative upholstery inspired by sportswear accessories
- Shorter, but wider and taller than its predecessor
- Short bonnet and marked cab-forward design
- Boat profile creates a compact and athletic impression
"Ready for take-off! The new Volvo S40 is designed to express power and performance!"
These are the words of Henrik Otto, Volvo Car’s Design Director. He emphasises the crisp, sporty lines of Volvo’s new medium-size car. It is a compact four-door sedan with a dynamic design and premium-car feel.
Henrik Otto and his team obtained their inspiration from classic Scandinavian design with its clean shapes and open surfaces, airiness and intimate interplay between form and function.
Exterior evolution – interior
The exterior is an evolution of Volvo Car’s modern body design, while the interior is something of a revolution. Minimalism maximises the large-car impression despite the compact exterior dimensions.
The interior is built up of several visual layers. The first layer shows as an edge trimming around the entire interior, along the side windows and the windscreen. The impression is of being safely ensconced in a cocoon.
The next layer is the instrument panel. It has a clean, uncluttered layout, with air vents and other details positioned as islands in an otherwise free area. The instrument panel has a new type of surface, a texture conveying a feel of cutting-edge technical innovation rather than classic leather-trimmed furniture. This special surface texture separates the instrument panel visually from the cabin’s outer edge trim.
The main instrument features two round gauges, surrounded by contrasting metal bezels. This design gives a sporty and three-dimensional vision.
Elegant and spacious
The most distinctive new feature in the passenger compartment is the unique, super-slim free-floating centre stack that elegantly links together the tunnel console with the instrument panel. The centre stack constitutes the interior’s topmost layer. It is further described in a separate press release.
There is another console in the roof, echoing the centre stack and continuing the theme of the car’s central nerve system.
The interior is available in a choice of three shades: dark grey, lava grey and dark beige. Each interior colour is available together with a range of matching upholstery colours.
Leather is one of four upholstery alternatives. The most innovative upholstery is Dala, a ribbed textile with T-Tec elements and visible light-coloured seams.
T-Tec is a material specially developed for Volvo Cars and inspired by sportswear and modern travel accessories. The contrast between T-Tec and textile – along with seams in a different but matching colour – reinforces the car’s dynamic appeal.
The cab-forward design, the long wheelbase and Volvo’s architecture of transverse engine installation combine to give the new Volvo S40 a spacious cabin.
The cabin can be rearranged in the same flexible manner as in the larger Volvo models. The rear seat splits into two sections and the backrests fold down. The front passenger seat can also be specified in a version with a fold-flat backrest. With the seats folded down, the load floor is entirely flat.
A comet on the move
The new Volvo S40 is shorter, but at the same time wider and taller, than its predecessor, creating more interior space. The bonnet is short and there is a pronounced cab-forward profile. This eager stance, as though the car is constantly urging ahead, creates a sensation of speed even when at a standstill and at the same time creates additional space for a long passenger cabin and generous rear-seat legroom.
"Anyone looking at the Volvo S40 from the side gets the impression of a comet on the move. The gently rounded nose, the sweeping lines and the abrupt tail generate a vibrant sensation of speed," comments Henrik Otto.
The track and wheelbase have been extended, virtually putting a wheel at each corner. This contributes to the sporty appearance and gives the car stable on-the-road behaviour. The long wheelbase also makes it possible to fit conveniently wide rear doors.
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 forges a compact and athletic impression, and it also contributes to the car’s excellent aerodynamics.
The doors of the Volvo S40 are convex in profile, unlike the concave shape of the doors on the larger Volvo models. This convex curvature reinforces the compact appearance and enhances the cabin’s width.
The windscreen wipers are of an entirely new type, concealed under the trailing edge of the bonnet. There are turn indicator repeaters integrated into the door mirrors, easily visible from the sides.
In order to further emphasise the sporty nature of the Volvo S40, the car can be equipped with a design package consisting of more pronounced sill mouldings and spoilers.
A number of newly designed aluminium wheels are available on the options list. The sportiest wheels are 18 inches in diameter and are shod with ultra-low profile 215/45 tyres.
Exterior Sport Styling
The all-new Volvo S40 will also be available with an Exterior Sport Styling concept – special styling accessories that further accentuates the sedan model’s sporting prowess and dynamic image.
The Exterior Sport Styling concept includes spoilers front and rear, side-skirts and a bootlid spoiler – all painted the same colour as the rest of the body. A lowering kit, that reduces the height of the car with 20 mm, and contributes to the driving experience, is also included.
Genuine Volvo identity
The new Volvo S40 has a profile of its own – yet maintains a clear Volvo identity.
The grille with its familiar diagonal has a horizontal mesh pattern in a dark-grey metallic colour, echoing the Volvo S60 and S80. The bonnet has the traditional V-shape. The body’s contour lines – the classic Volvo "shoulders" along either side of the body – are also inherited from the rest of the Volvo family.
Those broad shoulders are a modern Volvo feature that signal power and safety. From the rear, the distinctive tail lamps show with the utmost clarity that what lies ahead is a Volvo.
A brief comparison
The new Volvo S40 is shorter than its predecessor, but it is larger in every other respect:
Length 4468 mm (48 mm shorter than the previous
Width 1770 mm (54 mm wider)
Height 1452 mm (44 mm taller)
Wheelbase 2640 mm (78 mm longer)
Track front 1535 mm (63 mm wider)
Track rear 1531 mm (57 mm wider)