You have to admire Volvo. The abused and unloved adopted child of Ford, they are still managing to produce cars the buying public wants (and working on ground-breaking projects – like the Volvo plug-in hybrid for 2012), and receiving accolades and plaudits in to the bargain.
The latest trinket to come Volvo’s way is ‘Green Car of the Year’ – awarded by What Car? – for the Volvo S40 DRIVe with stop start. And it wasn’t as if there was no competition. The S40 DRIVe was in the Small Family Car Category, along with such decent drives as the BMW 118d and the Renault Megane, but it took top honours in its own category and went on to win overall Best Green Car. Well done!
The Volvo S40 DRIVe is a part of Volvo’s DRIVe range of Eco Cars (which includes the C30, S40, V50, V70, S80, XC60 and XC70), and is another of those cars that astonishes with its potential economy. A decent-sized car, it offers headline economy of 72 mpg and CO2 emissions of just 104g/km (just a small shave guys and it’d be a freebie for VED – but you know that!), but still offers a reasonable amount of space and an acceptable, if not overly exciting, drive.
As we found out when we tested the Fiesta ECOnetic, these Eco-Cars don’t really deliver the headline economy figures in everyday driving – unless you make the effort. But buyers of Eco Cars are pretty likely to make the effort and, as we discovered with the Fiesta, the headline figures are achievable if you want to drive like an Eco-Warrior. Which is hard to argue against.
It’s also a pleasant surprise to find that you don’t need to sacrifice a few creature comforts to get decent mileage. Even the entry-level ‘S’ spec throws in climate control, electric windows and a raft of Volvo’s trademark safety systems (DSTC, SIPS and a heap of airbags). Price, as we found on the Fiesta ECOnetic is not a strong point – the Volvo S40 DRIVe 1.6D S with Start/Stop comes in at a slightly disconcerting £17.5k.
But there is a way round the headline price. For as long as we, the taxpayer, carry on throwing money at the Scrappage Scheme, you can get over £4k back if you can rustle up a 10 year old trade-in. Which makes the entry level S40 DRIVe a much more acceptable £13k.