The Volvo S40 is all-new. It comes loaded with features for a very competitive price. For starters, the base price of $24,190 is $510 less than the current S40. Standard equipment includes a 2.4-liter five-cylinder engine, curtain and side-impact airbags, projector-type headlamps, and ABS with EBD, which electronically balances the braking. Volvo says the primary engineering challenge was to get the same safety in the S40's small package that's in the flagship S80 sedan. To that end It has been designed using something called VIVA, for Volvo Intelligent Vehicle Architecture. What appears to be an unprecedented amount of time, research, testing and detail has gone into the construction of the chassis and body in the interest of crash protection. There are several zones of deformation upon impact, built with different strengths of steel depending on that zone's function: conventional, high strength, extra high strength and ultra high strength steel. The S40 was launched as a 2004 1/2 model in January 2004, but it's essentially a 2005 model. The previous S40 line (2004 and older) was vast and the new S40 line will likewise grow over the next couple of years. The all-new 2004 1/2 models come with front-wheel drive and a five-speed automatic; 2005 models offer all-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox as well. Also available for 2005: a V50 sport wagon. The new S40 looks like a sports sedan, particularly when fitted with the optional 17-inch Saggita alloy wheels. The design is clean and elegant, Scandinavian simplicity. Inside, the S40 represents a sharp departure from previous Volvo designs, and the new interior is comfortable and convenient. On the road, the S40 is stable and relaxed. Even at high speeds, it can easily run with expensive sedans from BMW and Mercedes. The turbocharged T5 engine is wonderfully smooth, with quick but linear acceleration performance. The entry-level 2.4i engine feels nearly as quick and is just as smooth. The five-speed automatic is smooth and responsive. The suspension is firm but not jarring, offering an ideal balance of ride and handling, and the brakes are excellent. The all-new Volvo S40 is a superb sports sedan.