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21 September 2017

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Volvo V50 DRIVe road test report

DRIVe

Buyers wanting to go green with a Volvo V50 have two choices of the Swedish firm’s DRIVe model: one with the eco-friendly 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine and the other with the same engine but equipped with stop-start technology. The Volvo V50 is based on the Ford Focus, which enjoys a solid reputation for reliability. Coupled to Volvo’s meticulous build quality, the V50 is a sound bet for anyone concerned with the longterm quality of their car. The Volvo V50 may not be the most practical small estate, but it engenders a sense of pride in its owners.

Road Test Reports Says3 star rating
A front-facing image of the Volvo V50

Image number 2 of the Volvo V50Image number 3 of the Volvo V50

Performance Performance - 3 stars

Buyers wanting to go green with a Volvo V50 have two choices of the Swedish firm’s DRIVe model: one with the eco-friendly 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine and the other with the same engine but equipped with stop-start technology. Both models have the same 108bhp 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine, which comes with 177lb ft of shove from just 1750rpm, and this engine has a revised electronic brain to improve efficiency. The low down punch makes the V50 very relaxing to drive as the power comes in gently but surely, while the five-speed manual gearbox has an accurate and light shift action. Acceleration is adequate rather than brisk, taking 11.5 seconds to get from 0-62mph, while top speed is 118mph. More importantly, the V50 DRIVe models both cruise comfortably on the motorway without resorting to lower gears when it comes to climbing steeper inclines. With the Start/Stop version, the engine switches off when the car is at a standstill and the driver selects neutral and takes his or her foot off the clutch pedal. This saves fuel and lowers carbon dioxide emissions without affecting the driving experience, while a gear shift indicator on the dash encourages the driver to select the best gear for economy.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 4 stars

The Volvo V50 DRIVe sits 10mm lower to the ground than a standard V50 to help the car cut through the air more cleanly and reduce emissions. There’s also a very small gain in the handling department as the DRIVe models deal with corners even more effectively, with minimal body lean and ample grip. There’s no deterioration in ride comfort, though the Volvo is set more firmly than some rivals’ to have a sporting feel. Volvo has also fitted low rolling resistance for the DRIVe models to help improve economy and lower emissions, but the driver would be hard pressed to tell the difference between these and the tyres fitted to other V50s. Wind and road noise are kept to a minimum, but there’s no doubt that this is a diesel engine as there’s an ever-present, if distant, growl.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 5 stars

The Volvo V50 is based on the Ford Focus, which enjoys a solid reputation for reliability. Coupled to Volvo’s meticulous build quality, the V50 is a sound bet for anyone concerned with the longterm quality of their car. All of the interior plastics, fabrics and trim are tough and well put together, so no worries here either. The mechanical parts are all proven and the Start/Stop technology is straightforward, so should not be a problem.

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 5 stars

Volvo is famed for its safety and the V50 does nothing to upset this. It comes with twin front, side and curtain airbags as standard, along with ABS anti-lock brakes and ESP traction and stability control. The V50 has scored a top five-star rating from Euro NCAP for crash safety. Laminated side door glass is an option to prevent thieves gain entry even if they manage to smash the glass, while deadlocks will prevent them opening the doors even if they do get into the car. The stereo is integrated into the floating centre console, so it useless to thieves.

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 3 stars

It may be an estate, but the V50 is on the small side for this class of wagon and there are rivals that offer more practicality for less cash. The boot opening is big and broad and there are 60:40 split and fold rear seats, but the boot floor is narrower than some of the competition’s. However, it’s ruggedly made and should bear up well to continued use. The driver and front passenger are well looked after on the space front, and the driver has plenty of adjustment in the seat and steering wheel to find a comfortable driving position. A floating centre console looks good and all of the controls are laid out in typically clear Volvo fashion, so no fishing for the right button in the dark in the V50. In the rear, there’s enough space for two adults, but only just as headroom is only just this side of acceptable.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 4 stars

The Volvo V50 may not be the most practical small estate, but it engenders a sense of pride in its owners. This goes some way to understanding the V50’s respectable 35th place out of 101 cars included in the 2009 JD Customer Satisfaction Survey. Solid build quality and affordable running costs also help and the DRIVe models take this even further. The standard DRIVe version turns in 62.8mpg combined economy and 119g/km of carbon dioxide emissions to qualify for low-rate road tax. The Stop/Start model goes further with 72.4mpg economy and 104g/km CO2 emissions. Depending on which trim you opt for, the V50 DRIVe models attract between group 8 to 10 insurance ratings, while all models are covered by a three-year, 60,000 mile warranty. Every model comes with climate control, four electric windows, CD stereo and alloy wheels.

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