A sensibly stylish small eco-friendly estate. Not exciting, though

What is it?

This is the Volvo V50 1.6D DRIVe SE Lux, the third model in Volvo’s eco-friendly DRIVe sub-120g/km range.

Volvo is expanding its DRIVe range, with two-wheel drive versions of the XC60 and XC70, and 1.6-litre turbodiesel versions of the S80 and V70, but the C30, V40 and V50 will remain the most carbon-friendly members of the DRIVe range.

The Volvo V50 DRIVe doesn’t get as many aerodynamic tweaks as the C30 DRIVe, but it does benefit from an air deflector behind the grille, wind deflectors at the leading edge of the front wheels, a front spoiler and a set of natty disc-like aero-friendly alloys.

Low rolling resistance tyres are also fitted, while third, fourth and fifth gears have been lengthened for better cruising economy. Lower-friction gearbox oil has even been used to further enhance engine efficiency.

A stop-start version of the Volvo V50 DRIVe will be available from July (as will stop-start versions of the S40 and C30), which will drop the car’s CO2 emissions down to 104g/km, but for now buyers will have to put up with a still creditable figure of 118g/km.

What’s it like?

The V50 DRIVe certainly isn’t hair-shirt motoring. Even in basic S trim, the V50 DRIVe gets climate control, while highlights of the SE Lux model we tested are leather upholstery, aluminium trim, power-fold mirrors and heated front seats.

In town, you don’t feel short changed in the engine department either. The 108bhp, 177lb ft turbodiesel is refined and pulls the 1436kg V50 along with reasonable gusto. Whether it would feel as enthusiastic with a full load of passengers and luggage is questionable. On the motorway, the long gearing means the V50 DRIVe takes its time to wind up to speed but, once there, it feels relaxed and comfortable at outside-lane speeds.

Like any S40 or V50, the V50 DRIVe isn’t a dynamic delight along your favourite B-road, feeling composed but numb. The ride doesn’t suffer from the low rolling-resistance tyres, although lateral grip does, as understeer will set in earlier than a version wearing more ordinary rubber.

Should I buy one?

The V50 is an odd car. It’s classier than, say, a Ford Focus estate, but it doesn’t feel as good quality as an Audi A4 Avant, and it is nowhere near as dynamically engaging as a BMW 3-series touring.

But if you want something tasteful, understated and green, then the V50 DRIVe makes an excellent choice. Of course, it will be even greener when the stop-start version arrives.

Matt Rigby

Join the debate

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Wingco44 7 June 2009

Re: Volvo V50 1.6D DRIVe SE Lux

Overdrive wrote:
Blimey, over 21 grand for a 1.6 litre estate! I quite like it, but Volvo isn't exactly giving away this thing, is it?

That £21K is for the near top of the range SE Lux. I have just bought a 1.6S (60+ mpg and £35 road tax,118 mph and about a week to get to 60 mph. It cost just over £14K by part-exchanging a £200 Fiesta under the car scrappage scheme. I got £4800 for the Fiesta. Sure this car still cost over £18K otr, but the quality is superb and it will be worth far more than any Ford/Renault/Citroen in 3 years time. Volvo give you 20% discount and the Government gives you £1000 - they can do this now that half the cabinet have resigned and we are no longer funding their second homes.

I couldn't get anywhere near this discount with other manufacturers. That said, I do drive a Volvo XC90 Sport and a C30 2.4 Lux for when I want to pollute the Ozone.

I drove a Mondeo recently and loathed it. It wasn't new but it felt very tired and it looked like any other car - Volvos have a far more sporty image nowadays - just look at the drivers - all the flat caps have gone! A bit like the new Honda Civics that are appealing to the baseball cap brigade becuase they are so up to date.

aceman 18 April 2009

Re: Volvo V50 1.6D DRIVe SE Lux

I just don't like the style of the volvo it just isn't right. It maybe a safe large family car but exterior design soon should be changed slightly.

timmmmy 8 April 2009

Re: Volvo V50 1.6D DRIVe SE Lux

I completely agree with you 'overdrive'.Its alot of money for an estate when you could get a mondeo estate for less or even a 6 month old BMW 3 series for that!I know what I would have!