Volvo S40 and Volvo V40
A joint venture between Volvo and Mitsubishi, the S40 and V40 line-up replaced the ageing 440/460 Series in 1996. It might look more stylish, but the S/V40 is the same as the Japanese firm's Carisma underneath, and shares parts such as the gearboxes and GDI petrol engines. That means the smallest Volvo is well engineered and economical, but compared to rivals it feels cramped and lacks sparkle. Put together alongside the Mitsubishi in Holland, the car has also raised build quality issues, as it lacks the integrity of Swedish-built Volvos. But on the whole, they're reliable, stylish cars and represent sound used value, making them a refreshing alternative to the more mainstream saloons and estates.
- Ball-joints wear out above 40,000 miles, so check for knocking when the steering is on full lock, and inspect for wear around radius arms.
- Uneven brake pad wear occurs through kerbing. Make sure the car pulls up squarely and in a straight line, and examine the tyres for worn edges.
- The 1.8 and 2.0-litre models don't need a cam belt change until 96,000 miles. But swap it anyway on four-year-old cars and those with no service log.
- Stiff first or reverse gears mean dirt on the clutch hub or input shaft. You can fix this by cleaning them, but check the clutch for wear as well.
Supply exceeds demand, meaning there are bargains to be had. Trade bible Glass's Consumer Values says there are many high-mileage ex-fleet cars around, so haggle hard. The V40 holds its value better than the saloon.