More dynamic looks, refined sportiness and increased premium feel for Volvo S40 & V50

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  • Increased differentiation between S40 and V50
  • New S40 front with lower, broader stance
  • Sportier new grille creates tougher V50 look
  • Slimmer tail lamps and new rear bumper
  • Larger and more practical storage space
  •  New real wood inlay – Nordic Light Oak

To take a successful car model and improve on it is never easy. Such a brief, and a challenge, was given to Volvo’s designers who created the new S40 and V50. They had a good foundation to build on, for the S40 was crowned as South Africa’s Car of the Year for 2005, and the V50 had won design awards in Europe.

The Volvo S40 is important for Volvo Car South Africa, where the local sales of this model achieved the no. 5-spot on the global Volvo score card. And South Africans could savour the new S40 and V50 in the third quarter of this year.

The S40 has gone a long way in establishing Volvo in the compact luxury segment – offering a choice for the individualist and discerning customer. Improving this offer also meant that the designers had to look for ways in which to create an increased premium feel for the S40.

“The reasons for choosing the S40 are much more emotional than before. Today’s buyers speak enthusiastically of its sporty design and driving pleasure. We’re also increasingly winning the image and prestige match against our toughest competitors,” says Fredrik Arp, CEO and president of the Volvo Car Corporation.

Powerful stance
The introduction of a number of design changes to the S40 has moved this popular Volvo model visually closer to the new S-range look, while the V50 is tying in with the appearance of the new Volvo V70 – without compromising on its original compact and sporty attributes.

Steve Mattin, Volvo Cars design director, says with the design changes Volvo is aiming at increased differentiation between the two models, while interior refinements have focused on liberating smart storage space.

The new colour-coordinated soft nose creates a broader, lower stance thanks to a new grille with a larger Volvo iron mark, new headlamps and a lower air intake that sweeps across the entire front unlike the current model’s three-part design.

“The new, lower and more horizontal appearance radiates smooth power. This impression is reinforced when the car is seen from the side,” says Steve Harper, who is responsible for the design of the new Volvo S40 and V50.

According to Harper the shape of the new tail lamps and the new bumper further boost the dynamic appearance of the two models.

Slimmer tail lamps
The lower part of the tail lamp panel on both the S40 and V50 is 30 mm higher than before and the lamps themselves have an entirely new graphic layout. The brake lights are now of LED type and the position marker lamps emphasise the car’s shoulders.

The new bumper features integrated reflectors in the lower corners and the lower, broader design language is supplemented with the more horizontal lines of the exhaust tailpipe.

“The improved shape and position of the exhaust tailpipes is a good example of how a little extra visual touch can create a highly potent impression,” says Harper.

Freeing up storage space
When refining the interior, the design team transformed itself into something of a liberation movement for storage space. The team concentrated its efforts on two areas: the door sides and the centre stack.

The entire lower part of the front door inside panels was redesigned. The audio system loudspeakers were reshaped to free up space for a new, larger storage compartment with space for an A4 format book, an upright soft drinks can or a water bottle lying down.

Larger and more intelligent centre console
The already iconic super-slim centre console is available in additional decor versions such as the Nordic Light Oak real wood inlay, and the theme now flows smoothly with similar elegant soft curvature surfaces all the way to the rear seat.

The storage space between the seats has also been refined with the help of Scandinavian design tradition’s most renowned hallmark – smart functionality.

“We’ve even utilised the small spaces that are usually simply covered over when they’re not housing controls for options or accessories. Now instead, the space has been converted into a handy compartment, for instance for a mobile phone. After all, the phone is not something we should be using while driving, anyway,” explains Harper. “And on the back of the console there is another little jewel: a flip-up holder for a 1.5-litre bottle within easy reach of passengers in the rear-seat.”

New upholstery
New design details in the instrument panel and air vents also contribute to the interior refinement in the new S40 and V50.

The upholstery range has been expanded both at base level and for the more exclusive options, for instance with a new, finer grained leather, says Harper.