Volvo V50 (2004-2012) review
The V50 is the 'sports estate' sister car to the S40 saloon range, competing head-on with the Audi A4 Avant, BMW 3 Series Touring and Jaguar X-Type estate.
The V50 is the 'sports estate' sister car to the S40 saloon range, competing head-on with the Audi A4 Avant, BMW 3 Series Touring and Jaguar X-Type estate. Much more athletically-styled than traditional boxy Volvo estates, it's the best-looking load-lugger ever to come out of the Swedish company. The stylish front and strong shoulder lines of the S40 remain, combined with a slick rear that's sportily-raked without loosing the 'family' look; those strip tail lights are enormous. Of course, this means it's not as out-and-out practical as some rivals in the boot - it's smaller than all the competition with seats up - but it's still roomy enough and practical. A next-generation Ford Focus platform does mean it's a little cramped in the rear though, especially if two tall adults are sitting in the front.
The driver won't care though, as it's the best-driving Volvo estate ever. Four- and five-cylinder petrol engines, plus a four-cylinder turbodiesel, provide smooth-running power and, for five-cylinder units, a characterful engine note. We prefer the 2.0-litr turbodiesels though, which is very punchy at all speeds, yet super-refined and capable of 50mpg. On the road, it feels barely slower than the T5 performance model, which struggles to overcome the Volvo's weight. Lesser units, with less emphasis on performance, are better. All V50s, however, drive extremely well indeed, with agile handling, linear and quite wonderful steering, a decent ride quality (except on the T5 AWD, which is a bit unsettled) and feeling of never-ending impenetrability at speed. It's a brilliant long-distance car, helped by typically-sumptuous seats. Safety is first-rate, potentially class-leading, and of course there's that ingenious interior with wafer-thin centre console, too. A car with very few faults, so long as you can accept it's not as roomy as a traditional estate, the V50 is sure to please. Particularly given prices which undercut the 'premium' competition.