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Full Road Test
The V50 looks like a slightly scaled-down version of the V70 estate, and the driving experience is correspondingly similar. Like its S40 saloon sister, the V50 offers decent handling and solid build quality, although it the loadspace is a surprisingly small considering Volvo's history of building vast station wagons.
The cabin is well built and intelligently designed, including a "floating" dashboard that offers some storage space behind. Build quality is good, although the standard of the materials isn't quite up to that of the premium rivals that Volvo claims it wants the car to target.
The driving position is good with a decent range of adjustment and rear seat occupants enjoy reasonable space. Motorway refinement is excellent and the V50 also puts in an impressively agile performance over twistier roads, at the cost of a sometimes harsh ride on urban streets.
The V50 is built on the same chassis as the Ford Focus and so shares many of its powerplants. The basic 1.6 litre petrol engine is underpowered for any but the most undemanding users, and although the 1.8 unit is better, it still lacks much in the way of low-down pulling power when running with bigger loads.
Most buyers will opt for one of the diesel motors, of which the 1.6 is impressively frugal and the 2.0 decently fast. The supposed range-topping "D5" 2.4 litre five-cylinder diesel is loud and too expensive considering the marginal benefits it offers over the 2.0.