Compact Volvo V50 estate will fit your lifestyle

Volvo V50 is a compact lifestyle estate car that offers useful space and practicality for its size.

Volvo V50 is a compact lifestyle estate car that offers useful space and practicality for its size. - Credit: Volvo

Volvo's V50 is a compact lifestyle estate with compact running costs that will suit a growing family as a used buy.

Engines – Volvo can't compete with the likes of Ford in terms of engine choice, but the V50's modest selection ensures there should be something for all tastes. It's worth noting that the small-capacity motors – petrol and diesel – are deceptively good. During the latter part of the car's life, the introduction of Volvo's frugal DriveE variants offered real-world economy and savings.

Exterior – Sharing much with the mechanically-similar S40 saloon, the V50 offers buyers a little more in the way of practicality thanks to its estate layout. A long way from the boxy Volvos of old, the V50 is a sleek alternative to the crop of lifestyle 'sportwagon' estates on offer from rival firms.


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Interior – Chunky buttons, unusual trim options and impressive ergonomics are the highlights of the V50's cabin. Being close in size to a Ford Focus, don't expect acres of room in the back – the V50 is more suited to a growing family than one about to fly the nest.

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Driving – Being a compact car, the V50 is pleasingly agile out on the open road. Factor in a range of willing engines and it's very hard to fault this Volvo's composure and agility. The diesels prove frugal, and anyone who racks up a lot of miles would do well to consider the 1.6-litre unit in particular.

Ownership – With its modest footprint and, in diesel form, equally modest drinking habit, ease of use and low running costs are the main high points. Predictably the V50 isn't as useful as Volvo's larger V70, but for light loads the V50 easily beats its S40 saloon cousin.

What to look for – With the V50 an estate car, always inspect the tailgate and load bay for damage and above-average wear and tear. With something this new a full service history is essential, while a test drive remains an important activity – faults on a relatively new car should have you walking away.

Model history – 2004, Volvo launches new V50 compact estate to compliment its S40 saloon. Engines, trim and equipment levels are broadly similar throughout the range. Four and five-cylinder petrol and diesel engines offered. Sporty-looking R Design versions plus frugal DriveE models released latter in the car's lifecycle.

Reasons to buy – Compact footprint, practical loadspace, traditional Volvo attributes, Scandinavian styling.

Reasons to beware – Small size means it's not a full-blown estate rival, cabin ergonomics are a mixed bag.

Pick of the range – Volvo V50 1.6D DrivE.

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