For 2007, the Volvo S40 sedan undergoes only minor changes: T5 models are equipped with a new Cursa-style 16-inch wheel design, while the optional Sport Package now includes new Zaurak-style 17-inch wheels. T5 models and 2.4i models equipped with the optional Audio package feature a new auxiliary jack for MP3 players. All models receive a new overhead console design and new rearview mirror, and there’s a new $800 Keyless Drive stand-alone option.

The S40 uses two engines: the 2.4i carries a 2.4-litre inline five-cylinder, while the T5 uses a 2.5-litre inline five-cylinder with turbocharger. Both of those models are front-wheel drive, but the T5 can also be ordered as the T5 AWD, which uses a Haldex electronically-controlled system that delivers most of its power to the front wheels, until the rear wheels lose traction and torque is sent to the rear. The S40, which is also available in wagon form as the V50, is based on a global platform also used by the Mazda3 and European Ford Focus.

The 2.4i features a five-speed manual transmission or optional five-speed automatic, and includes air conditioning, 16-inch steel wheels, 60/40 folding rear seat, CD player with six speakers, tilt and telescopic wheel, power windows with auto up/down on all, power heated mirrors with integrated turn signals and puddle lights, cruise control, floor mats, rear fog light, and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, electronic brake distribution and emergency brake assistance.

The T5 uses a close-coupled six-speed manual transmission or optional five-speed automatic, and adds front fog lights, 16-inch alloy wheels, folding passenger seat, leather-wrapped wheel and shifter knob, eight speakers, dual-zone automatic climate control, trip computer, and wheel-mounted audio controls.

The T5 AWD has the same features as the T5, plus dynamic chassis tuning and traction control.

Safety features abound, and even the base model includes side-impact and curtain airbags, whiplash protection system (WHIPS) front seats, multi-stage airbags with knee pads for driver and passenger, pedestrian protection, collapsible steering column and pedals, and fail-safe engine mountings. There’s even an optional power child lock for the rear doors.

The S40’s ride is on the firm side, but the handling qualities that make the Mazda3 so much fun to throw around are just as evident on this vehicle. Both engines move this small car out very well, and there’s no turbo lag on the T5. The seats are comfortable, the build quality is excellent, and it’s very attractive.

On the down side, there is almost no small-item storage; the centre console “floats” in mid-air and glows in the dark, and while it’s lovely, it’s not very functional, since it contains no cubbies and it’s difficult to access the small storage space behind it. Heater and stereo controls are small and fiddly, and they’re not immediately intuitive and have a bit of a learning curve. Drivers with large feet may also find that the small pedals are too closely spaced.

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