At launch, Volvo offered the V50 D5 solely with the geartronic, gearbox. Ian Robertson tests the new six-speed manual version
Volvo has long had a tradition for producing solid dependable estate cars, and the Swedish makers’ V50 is their best selling model, with almost 30,000 finding their way onto UK driveways. It’s based on the Ford Focus’s platform and shares styling with the S40 saloon and C30 sports hatch. While some of the petrol and turbodiesel engines are shared with the Focus, the 2.4-litre D5 engine, as tested here, is unique to Volvo and transforms the estate into a bit of a Q-car. With 178bhp on tap, it’s one of the quickest small estates around, despatching the 0-62mph dash in just 8.0 seconds, before powering on to a maximum speed of 140mph. And while performance, economy and emissions don’t usually go hand in hand, the V50 achieves 44.8mpg on the combined cycle, while producing CO2 emissions of 166g/km.
Out on the road performance is punchy, leaving many hot-hatches shamed. At times though (with an eager right foot) the V50 scrabbles to put all the available power down on the tarmac, resulting in wheel spin. The engine is refined, with an appealing engine note, and only becomes vocal when extended. Being from the Focus family, the Volvo handles and rides well, and provides bags of grip. Steering doesn’t give as much feedback as some of its rivals though.
Those familiar with modern Volvo’s will know all about the floating centre console. It looks strange at first, with the cubby hole being hidden behind the dash plinth, but it is an exceptionally efficient way of mounting the controls, and with a choice of different materials, including wood, metal and bright white finishes, buyers can tailor the look that suits them. Elsewhere, the plastics are top quality, with the cabin feeling well made and built to last. The seats are comfortable and are some of the best in the business. Interior space is at a premium though, with 417 litres of available loadspace.
This compares to the 482 litres in its Ford cousin. At £24,045, it’s a lot of money to spend on a small estate, despite the V50 being well equipped. The SE Lux specification gives you climate control, heated leather seats, 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, automatic wipers and power fold door mirrors, as well as a full compliment of airbags. Safety watchdog EuroNCAP hasn’t tested the V50 as yet, but they did test the S40 saloon back in 2004 and it achieved a five-star safety rating.
Few cars of this size offer the kind of performance that the V50 D5 offers and, while it may be appealing, you have to remember that £24k could buy a lot of estate car from the class above. Therefore, it is likely that lower specification models may offer better value for money.
ON SALE: Now RANGE STARTS AT: £18,145 for 1.6D S
- Price: £24,045
- Engine: 2400cc, 5-cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed manual
- Max Power: 178bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 258lb ft at 1,750 – 3,250rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 1,500kg
- Combined Consumption: 44.8mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 166g/km (E)
- 0-62mph: 8.0secs
- Max speed: 140mph
- Insurance group: 15
Stylish interior, nicely equipped, well built, good performance, equipment levels, safety
Not as spacious as some rivals, quite expensive for the size of the car