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Old 09-01-2003, 08:57   #1 (permalink)
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E.U.:Series Beater? Volvo's next S40 debuts in Frankfurt

AutoWeek

Volvo will take on the new BMW 1 Series and Audi A3 with an upmarket replacement for the S40, on sale next March.

The new S40 bears a clear family resemblance to the S60 and S80, but smaller dimensions give it chunkier proportions with the wheels pushed to the corners and a high roofline to maximize cabin space. One of its secret weapons in the battle to win over Audi and BMW buyers is a novel interior with a “free-floating” center console that creates a new storage area.

A significant exterior styling change compared to the S60 and S80 is a new body-side treatment with flush door skins in place of the waistline look of the bigger sedans. Also, the dramatic, fastback rear window of the S60 is replaced with a more upright glass.

Under the new skin is Volvo’s version of the Ford/Mazda C1 platform that also underpins the new Mazda 3, Ford C-Max and next-generation Focus. That means independent rear suspension and the promise of ride and handling to far exceed the Mitsubishi-derived set-up of today’s S40.

PAG design boss Peter Horbury oversaw the design, with the exterior credited to Henrik Otto and the interior to a Brit, Guy Burgoyne.

Volvo will launch the S40 with top-of-the range five-cylinder engines, including a flagship T5 model powered by a 220-hp turbo 2.4-liter five-cylinder and a 170-hp 2.4-liter non-turbo five. A wagon version of the S40, the V50, goes on sale late next year after a likely launch at Geneva next spring. The platform will also form the basis for the replacements to the C70 and C70 Cabriolet, badged C50 and C50 Cabriolet.

Prices are likely to remain largely unchanged.
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