Our favorite preview example, a front-wheel-drive T5, came with the turbocharged 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder used in the S60, S80, and XC90, mated to the six-speed manual from the S60R. Featuring short throws and light, effortless action, the gearbox makes it
easy to enjoy and maximize the T5's 218 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. Volvo says the T5 can hit 60 mph in 6.3 seconds and produce a top speed of 149 mph. With all that torque available from 1500 to 4800 rpm, the T5 not only launches off the line but also quickly gets out of its own way on the highway, exhibiting no noticeable turbo lag. There's also little torque steer evident, which is impressive considering all the twist being delivered through the front tires. An all-wheel-drive T5, using the V70 AWD's Haldex system, will be available, but it almost seems superfluous given that the front-driver performs so well.
Both S40s use struts up front and a multilink setup in the rear, tuned for a firm ride that manages to be both comfortable and compliant. Our cars' Euro settings felt ideal, making us wishful that Volvo wouldn't tinker with them for the U.S. cars. Complemented by communicative and linear steering-the best of any Volvo to date-and the optional 205/50R-17 tires on our T5, the able suspension made short work of the winding roads around Málaga, Spain.** - Review reflects the 2004 Volvo S40 and portions from caranddriver.com