But then there was a time in the 1980s when espadrilles were cool, until it rained and the straw soles soaked up a bucket of water each.
So at the moment our S40 complements a trendy loft-living lifestyle perfectly and you have to say it's probably the first Volvo ever to achieve that.
However, I'm a bit worried that the white leather seats – called Calcite Cream and part of the SE package – will go the way of the espadrille and end up filed in the bin marked 'Very Cool But Completely Useless in the Real World' by looking grubby within a few hundred miles.
I'm hoping they won't, and I shall keep you posted, because I absolutely love the interior of this car. I shall be wearing very clean trousers all the time.
Elsewhere our S40 is well specced-up, although the SE has a pretty generous list to start with. Ours has extra kit on it, such as £2,200 satellite navigation which swivels out of the dashboard, a £700 electric sunroof, £500 metallic paint, £350 winter pack and £850 bi-xenon lights.
As standard the SE comes with a six CD player, cruise control, automatic windscreen wipers and a climate control system, which has to be the noisiest I've ever encountered. If it's 25 degrees out (hard to imagine I know) and you set the climate control at 20-21 degrees, you'd better batten down the hatches.
It blasts a continuous torrent of cold air at you. It's so noisy, it drowns out the radio and although you can adjust how forcefully it gets to its target temperature, it seems to keep on going no matter what.
Now I know how Ellen McArthur felt rounding Cape Horn. Despite its gale-force air vents, on certain summer days, the Volvo rarely goes anywhere and I opt for any of our short-term test cars instead. That's because the radio doesn't have long wave so I can't listen to Test Match Special. A Volvo that doesn't let you listen to Henry Blofeld and Aggers! This will alienate the core Volvo driver of yore, which of course might be the point…
Our S40 is powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine which is not yet Euro IV complaint, although it will be later in the year. It's not the quietest unit on the market, but isn't bad, and with the six-speed gearbox, gives good performance. The ride is firm for a Volvo but not uncomfortable and it handles better than pretty much any Volvo ever made.
First impressions, despite air vent and radio niggles are that it's a seriously classy car. It will be welcome addition to our fleet, but only drivers and passengers with clean bottoms will be allowed in.
Company car tax bill 2004/05 (22% tax-payer): £64 per month
Power (bhp/rpm): 136/5,800
Torque (lb-ft/rpm): 140/4,000
Figures based on three-years/60,000-miles
What we expect
All the Volvos we've had on long term test have been large –the S60, V70 and S80, and all proved popular on long distances. It will be interesting to see if the S40 is snapped up for similar tasks. It is pretty compact after all, so is likely to appeal to a different sort of driver, as Volvo intends.
At the moment the engine is still tight, so we are getting nowhere near the combined fuel consumption figure. No doubt that will start to climb.
A close eye will be kept on how the upholstered interior stands up. Can such a colour scheme cut it, and if not, what effect could it have on residuals?
The manufacturer's view
Volvo corporate sales manager Ian Rendle said: 'The S40 2.0D will be a very significant fleet car for Volvo in 2004 and beyond.
'The diesel should account for 50% of all S40 fleet sales in 2004 and appeals to both the company car driver, due to its premium brand image, style, performance and low CO2 as well as the company itself due to its excellent fuel and safety credentials.'