Sure enough, the 170-mile round trip saw the car return a respectable 35mpg; not bad considering it was four-up, complete with a boot-full of bags and booze.
But being this full of people and gear, the car shows its only real flaw. Suddenly the 110bhp diesel feels gutless and wanting. Ordinarily, although not electrifying, the 1.6 unit is perfectly competent and responsive. But with this much weight on-board it’s a different story. You need to work the engine hard to keep pace with traffic, but even using the revs doesn’t remedy the lethargic feeling.
This is a shame, because the rest of the car is great. The exterior styling is purposeful and distinctive; the interior is fresh and well thought out. Spec levels are pretty generous too, with electronic climate control and electric heated mirrors among the standard features. From grille to bootlid, the car oozes classic Volvo solidity combined with some of the best design cues in its class.
Whether full of passengers and luggage or not, the S40’s gearchange is precise and notchy, the steering is nicely weighted, and the ride is firm and sporty.
The car has faultlessly covered a little more than four thousand miles since AM took delivery of it in July. It’s as well put-together and sturdy as ever, and the engine has loosened up nicely.
At £18,528, the S40 1.6D S may carry a significant price premium over its Focus saloon equivalent, but for car-park cachet, there’s no contest. Despite the same underpinnings, the Swedish brand undoubtedly carries more clout then the blue oval. And despite the lack of oomph when fully-loaded, we’re sad to see it leave.
Engines: 1.6-litre, 110bhp diesel
Performance: 0-62mph: 12sec; top speed: 118mph
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Test period : July-October
Start mileage: 100
Mileage now: 4,201
Efficiency: 57.6mpg, 129g/km CO2
CAP RV 30k/3yr: £7,050 (42%)
CAP RV 60k/3yr: £6,100 (37%)
Likes: Styling, economy, solidity
Dislikes: Underpowered with full car