While Volvo has always stood for safety, the Swedish maker is adding another string to its bow – low emission cars. Ian Robertson tests the new V50 DRIVe
If you were to mention Volvo in a crowded room, for most it would conjure up a strong reputation for safety, with a staid image, coupled with boxy styling. Over the past few years, the Swedish car maker has been working hard to rid outself of the square look it became famous for, with curvier models unveiled at each model change. Now, with a much rounder range of models, Volvo has embarked on its next challenge, to introduce more green models, and launched its new DRIVe subbrand to push the message home.
First unveiled at the Paris motor show last October, the DRIVe editions of the S40 saloon, V50 estate and C30 hatch all feature the familiar 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine, developed in conjunction with parent company Ford and PSA Peugeot-Citroën. The V50 tested here is expected to be the best selling of the three DRIVe products and has come in for some fettling to achieve the reductions in CO2 emissions. Low rolling resistance tyres, together with diamond-cut polished alloy wheels are fitted, and while they don’t look particularly pretty, they aid air flow. In addition, there’s a covered radiator grille that is designed to help the aerodynamics in the engine bay, together with front and rear spoilers.
Finally, the ride height is lowered by 10mm, to help reduce drag. All of these measures result in a useful reduction in CO2 emissions by 14g/km compared to the previous 1.6D models. Fuel consumption is also improved, now achieving 62.8mpg on the combined cycle. Out on the road, there are no noticeable adverse affects as a result of the higher gearing that the DRIVe employs, and the 108bhp engine is relatively smooth and adequately powerful, providing high levels of refinement. The gearbox is smooth, and there’s an upshift indicator on the instrument binnacle to advise you when best to change up, to maximise economy, and this works well. The V50 sits on the same chassis as the Focus, so feels quite agile with safe handling and decent levels of grip. The ride can get a bit jittery over poor surfaces, though, and the steering could do with a touch more feel.
Those familiar with modern day Volvo’s will be at home, with the V50 featuring the same floating centre console as other models. The interior plastics are good quality and the overall impression is of a solid, well made, durable cabin. The loadbay is able to swallow 417 litres of luggage with the seats in the upright position, and 1,307 litres when folded, though this is less than its Focus and Astra rivals, meaning the V50 is more lifestyle estate than outright loadlugger.
RIVALS: Ford Focus Est ate ECOnetic 1.6 TDCi, Vauxhall Astr a Est ate Design 1.7 CDTi 16v ecoFLEX
- Engine: 1560cc, 4 cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 5-speed manual
- Max Power: 108bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 177lb ft at 1,750rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 800kg
- Combined Consumption: 62.8mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 118g/km (C)
- 0-62mph: 11.5secs
- Max speed: 118mph
- Insurance group: 10
Impressive refinement, reasonably priced, low CO2 emissions, safety
Disappointing luggage capacity, could do with more steering feel