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<A HREF="http://www.autoexpress.co.uk" TARGET=_blank>http://www.autoexpress.co.uk</A> <P>ust when you thought Volvo's ageing S40/V40 range would gracefully fade away, the firm mixes things up to keep the small executive looking young. But will it take more than some engine tweaks and a new grille? We drove a 1.8-litre V40 SE to find out.<P>Minor tuning changes have reduced engine CO2 levels, with improvements on every model except this direct-injection petrol version, which is already in the lowest company car tax bracket.<P>Other variants all become more tax-friendly, with emissions brought into line with those of fresher rivals. This 1.8i will return a decent 41mpg, but push hard and that figure will plummet. On paper, the performance seems quite impressive - with a 0-60mph sprint time of 10.5 seconds and a top speed of 124mph - but in reality the car rarely feels that quick. It takes a keen eye to spot the styling changes, but there's a new black grille and a tidied front end, which now has foglights as standard. The look is classy, particularly with our car's metallic paint - a £500 option. <P>The SE model also gets new multi-spoke alloys, and despite other minor trim alterations, the overall shape is familiar. Space is tight in this lifestyle estate, and the interior changes are discreet. The driver gets a new three-spoke steering wheel and better dash, but the cabin is still bland.<P>One thing you can always count on with Volvo is loads of safety equipment, and standard kit now includes larger side impact curtains along with a full quota of airbags. So have the changes brought the car up to speed? The engine and gearshift have to be worked hard to make swift progress, and compared to Alfa Romeo's stylish 156 Sportwagon, the Swede is simply outclassed. Even at the £14,480 entry-level price, there are plenty of rivals that are better value. And for £18,630, the V40 SE compares poorly against its more capable German peers. Chris Thorp <P>
 

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Interesting - do UK cars still measure Miles per gallon and miles per hour instead of using a kilometer equivalent?<P>"Other variants all become more tax-friendly, with emissions brought into line with those of fresher rivals. This 1.8i will return a decent 41mpg, but push hard and that figure will plummet. On paper, the performance seems quite impressive - with a 0-60mph sprint time of 10.5 seconds and a top speed of 124mph - but in reality the car rarely feels that quick. It takes a keen eye to spot the styling changes, but there's a new black grille and a tidied front end, which now has foglights as standard. The look is classy, particularly with our car's metallic paint - a £500 option. "<BR>
 

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Yeah, funny thing, they still use miles. I just recently bought a European instrument cluster for my VW Golf. I bought a UK market unit so it'd be correct in mph.<P>George
 
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