The 2005 Volvo S40: Fabulously Functional, With Plenty of Style

As Good Charlotte aptly tells us, “Girls don’t like boys, girls like cars and money.” While cars have traditionally been considered “a guy thing,” I have always contended that girls care about them too. While many of us females primarily notice a car’s cosmetic appearance, we do pay attention to performance. Boys and girls alike care a lot about how fast a car is, how fierce the pick-up is, how the car holds the road, and what special features the interior has to offer. Gender divisions aside, many Colgate students love to drive, and from the looks of the lots on campus and the vehicles cruising the streets of Hamilton, students care deeply about what they drive.My roommate recently became the proud driver of a brand new 2005 Volvo S40. Her new car piqued my interest in part because I just love a new car – the smell, the immaculateness, the new technology – but also because I am always eager to discover non-SUVs that are good in the snow. The S40’s stylish detailing and all-wheel-drive (AWD) capability make the car a cool fusion of form and function. Not to mention that the S40’s seductiveness and athleticism are made apparent by her car’s “passion red” paintjob, which screams “racy”: the car is hot and the red paint accentuates this fact.And so I was provoked to do a bit of research.The new S40, a follow-up to its less sleek, less aggressive, less attractive predecessor, has a lot to offer. Volvo’s concern for safety remains paramount, and is manifest in the car’s daytime running lights, airbags from practically every angle, and whiplash-reducing front seats. But the days of Volvo as “a mom car” are coming to an end. The T5 (turbo 5-cylinder) model affords quick acceleration and the 5-speed “Geartronic,” available with T5 automatic transmission models, lends itself to a more agile ride. The new S40 has been pronounced more of a “driver’s car” than its ancestor. The automobile-minded know that sporty and snowy cannot typically jibe; however, the S40 T5 with AWD may be an exception. It’s a welcome addition to the AWD sedan movement, which has become a growing trend in the last six years. Audi’s A4, BMW’s 3-series sedan and sports-wagon, and Volkswagen’s 4-Motion Pasaat are all representatives of the erosion of the association between snow and SUVs. The S40 T5 AWD is also available with a winter mode, which serves to improve the car’s handling in snowy conditions. The S40’s architecture is reminiscent of its bigger sibling, the Volvo S60. Smoother lines than the last S40 model make it pleasing to the eye. A shark-like fin at the back of the car’s roof lends more gracefulness than a typical antenna might (and makes it easier to go through car washes), and attractive headlights and taillights make the car exude sophistication. A large trunk accommodates a college student’s junk nicely, and fold-down backseats make it possible to cart around skis (or a surfboard – if you’re not in Hamilton).Chic modernism and stylish classiness characterize the new Volvo S40’s interior. Leather upholstery (optional) and aluminum trim contribute to the car’s calming aesthetic. Special features include a unique “floating console,” which conceals a space that just the right size to hold a lady’s purse or a man’s extraneous stuff. It is most definitely one of the coolest features in the revamped 2005 model. The console’s knobs are sleek but sturdy with good functionality. A keypad affords the possibility of 30 pre-set radio stations. Heated front seats are a tremendous perk in Hamilton’s negative degree weather, and dual climate control keeps the vehicle temperate and the passengers comfortable. Net pockets provide storage for maps and things under the front seats and two voltage adapters make it possible to charge a phone and an iPod simultaneously. One criticism of the car lies in Volvo’s effort to move forward technologically. They have eliminated the ignition key, but there are flaws with the stencil-like plastic piece that has replaced a traditional key. If left in the ignition for too long without the car being on, the S40’s battery will drain. Also the sub-windshield/above-glove-compartment space is somewhat aesthetically unfortunate: it looks a bit oversized and strangely sparse, unadorned by the usual conglomeration of air-condition vents and push out compartments that might exist there. But by and large the 2005 Volvo S40 is a hot car with plenty of practicality. Look for it around campus, and hopefully you’ll now be able to appreciate more than just its cosmetic appearance.