It has been about four years since Volvo introduced the current S40/V50 range, but to keep it fresh for the final cycle of its life the freshened-up range is now available in South Africa.
At the same time Volvo managed to keep the price increase minimal, making the S40/V50 still a value-for-money buy if you are in the market for a premium vehicle.
As Volvo's most popular range, the makeover adds more appeal to the vehicle offering a better rounded package while still embodying "Swedishness".
Typical of motoring evolution the S40 and its estate sibling, the V50, got botox treatment to hide the signs of ageing.
Improvements in exterior design include a new front grille, redesigned bumpers and new taillights. There are minor tweaks to the interior too.
Speaking at the South African launch was Volvo's design director Steve Mattin who said that the distinctive design cues take the S40/V50 a "visual step closer" to the rest of their latest products such as the S80 and new V70.
The overall styling also suits the "new face" of Volvo as spearheaded by the XC60 Concept Car, where a more prominent grille with Volvo's iron mark is central in the nose design.
According to Mattin, the interior refinements have focused on "liberating" smart storage space.
So, on the inside Mattin and his team improved functionality and especially concentrated their efforts on the door sides and the centre stack.
The entire lower part of the front door inside panel was redesigned. The audio system loudspeakers were reshaped to free up space for a new, larger storage compartment.
The distinctive super-slim centre console is also now available in an eye-catching Nordic Light Oak real wood inlay.
Other changes to the interior include a more compact handbrake, better storage space between the seats and new leather trim.
There are several new features available too such as optional Active Bi-Xenon headlamps that swivel the light beam in the direction of the road when the driver turns the steering wheel.
The range is available with new audio systems too and the most advanced of the three systems, Premium Sound, has a digital amplifier from Alpine, Dolby Pro Logic II Surround and loudspeakers from Dynaudio of Denmark.
The High Performance and Premium Sound systems have MP3 capability and all the audio systems now come with an Auxiliary socket (AUX) for connection of other equipment such as a portable MP3 player.
USB and iPod connectors are available as accessories too.
And typical Volvo, the safety ante has been upped too. Adding to the range's safety appeal is a new feature where the car's hazards are automatically activated when the airbags are deployed.
The brake lights also now have the EBL (Emergency Brake Lights) function, which causes them to flash rapidly when the driver stomps on the brake pedal.
An useful optional extra is also Volvo's BLISS system blind spot warning system, which alerts drivers to objects in the car's blind spot.
Like before there are five derivatives, three petrol and two diesel, in the S40 and V50 ranges.
There are no changes to the overall engineering but the T5 model benefits from a power upgrade, which is up from 162 kW to 169 kW.
Its maximum torque stays at 320 Nm, but it now available between 1 500 and 5 000 r/min. Previously it was delivered from 1 500 r/min to 4 800 r/min.
The 6-speed manual gearbox in the Volvo S40 and V50 2.0D has undergone changes to its gear ratios for improved driveability.
The engine derivatives:
S40 & V50 2.0: 107 kW / 185 Nm
S40 & V50 2.4i, 125 kW / 230 Nm
S40 & V50 T5: 169 kW / 320 Nm;
S40 & V50 2.0D: 100 kW / 320 Nm
S40 & V50 D5: 132 kW / 350 Nm
Prices - S40
S40 2.0 Manual: R227 000
S40 2.0D Manual: R250 000
S40 2.4i Manual: R245 000
S40 2.4i Geartronic: R255 000
S40 T5 Manual: R274 000
S40 T5 Geartronic: R284 000
S40 D5 Geartronic: R285 000
Prices - V50
V50 2.0 Manual: R232 000
V50 2.0D Manual: R255 000
V50 2.4i Manual: R250 000
V50 2.4i Geartronic: R260 000
V50 T5 Manual: R279 000
V50 T5 Geartronic: R289 000
V50 D5 Geartronic: R290 000