Mindful consumption

I just can’t get the Volvo S40 2.0D Powershift out of my mind. With most cars I drive, the bond is broken as soon as I give them back. But this particular car has stuck in my thoughts – for one particular reason: its fantastic fuel efficiency.

It’s cool in a sexy nuclear physicist kind of way

The refreshing, minimalist interior of the Volvo S40

The Volvo V50 can handle a bit of on-the-grass action

Price: From R 282,500


Volvos are lovely cars, and my favourite, because I think it suits me, is the C30 – the little hatch with the unusual back window. I’d give my eye teeth for one of them. But still, my thoughts keep wandering back to the S40 2.0-litre diesel sedan that I drove a few weeks ago.

This one’s just right

The upbeat conservative exterior design is easy to live with and I just love the interior. It’s minimalist, with a floating console and the bare essentials. In fact, this car is completely underwhelming in the sense that it’s a relief that there’s no image attached to it (unlike SUVs and hot hatches); there isn’t a centre dial with a million functions, half of which you’ll never know exist. No, on the Volvo S40 there’s exactly what you need to live a simple, comfortable automotive life. Isn’t that what we all want in the end, anyway?

The pot-plant stand vs storage space

As a single woman, with no children, I don’t have much use for back seats or too much luggage space too often. (The boot of the S40 is cavernous.) The 2+1 folding back-seat system can be folded down to offer extra storage, although you then have to remove the back shelf. And when you’re at the nursery, and have just bought a pot plant stand and can’t fit it in until you’ve taken the shelf out and tried to fit it in, too, you’re going to wish you’d bought the V50 2.0D Powershift instead. That’s the stationwagon version of the S40 that has the advantage of being slightly more robust and a lot more versatile. It’s also available in the 2.0D Powershift. Powershift, by the way is Volvo’s lovely automatic gearbox with tiptronic.

Maintenance advice for the Volvo S40

One thing to consider when looking at Volvo cars is that once the maintenance plan runs out, and if something goes wrong with your car (a big if because while all cars are fallible, Volvo is known for reliability and endurance), it can start getting expensive with imported spare parts etc. So if you do buy a Volvo, it’s a good idea to extend the maintenance plan if you don’t sell it before.

The secret of attraction

So why am I writing about the S40 2.0D I just drove, when I probably wouldn’t buy one right now? Because how many other cars do you know can get 800km out of one tank of fuel. And it’s not a big tank – just the standard 52-litres. Not many – and who knows, when my lifestyle changes (it often does), maybe I’ll take a look at the conservative Volvo S40, if only for the satisfaction of the ridiculously low fuel consumption. I guess you could say that this car is like the quiet guy you meet through friends, who you wouldn’t give a second glance – until you get to know him. Then you realise he’s clever, charming, witty and would be a great husband. And before you know it, you find him the sexiest man alive. It’s similar with the Volvo S40 – just a little watered down, of course.

Price from: R282 500