22 February 2004
Last year I wrote a rave review of the new Volvo S40. It
was the first time for a long time a car had exceeded all my expectations. That
test covers the 170bhp and 220bhp 5- cylinder automatics, so if they are the
engine and gearbox combinations you are interested in, you‘d better read
it after this.
Here I cover the new Ford/PSA 2.0 litre diesel version of
the V50, which is anticipated to account for 50% of V50 sales, and the All
Wheel Drive 220bhp V50 T5, which arrives later in the year.
There‘s no doubt it‘s a gorgeous looking car. Like the Audi
A4 B6 Avant which is its most direct competitor, the V50 has even more eye
appeal than the saloon. It‘s attractive from all angles; beautiful at the
front, neat at the side and butch at the back.
Most of the technical
details are the same as the S40, so no point in repeating what‘s already
in the S40 test. Significant differences are, of course, the luggage space and
a bit more headroom in the back seat. This was the first time I had driven the
2.0 litre version of Ford/PSA‘s new 16 valve common rail all alloy diesel.
(For the 1.6 version, coming in S40s but not V50s, see the Mazda 3 road test.)
In the V50 and S40 it‘s mated to Ford‘s new 6-speed manual box with
reverse up alongside first. It‘s not the same engine and gearbox as the
X-Type Jaguar diesel which uses the Mondeo Duratec diesel and the earlier
Mondeo 5-speed gearbox.
Volvo‘s test route for this car was almost
all Spanish Autopista, which the company felt was its natural habitat. And
there‘s no doubt it‘s a fine cruiser with an extremely tall sixth
gear giving around 38mph per 1,000rpm, which means you‘re turning less
than 2,000rpm at the absurdly low UK motorway limit. It‘s quite and smooth
even at much higher speeds, and extremely punchy in 4th gear. But whether it
will make a good caravan tower is a bit doubtful with that tall 6th gear
because peak torque isn‘t developed until you‘re doing about 76mph,
which is a bit quick with a bungalow behind.
As well as on motorways
it‘s good on quick two lane A roads, with bags of grunt for overtaking
quickly and safely. Ride comfort is very good indeed. And handling is fine. But
get it onto a narrow B road or worse and, while it doesn‘t go to pieces,
it simply stops being impressive. Nothing like as smooth and assured as the 5
cylinder petrol automatic S40s I drove last year. And in these conditions the
electro hydraulic power steering felt more like Mazda‘s than the
5-cylinder S40‘s. Don‘t get me wrong. It‘s still a fine car. And
preferable in handling, steering and power delivery to an Audi A4 TDI PD 130.
So where the anti BMW 320d brigade previously only had one excellent
alternative, they now have two and I can imagine endless test drives and poring
over catalogues before user chooser company car decisions are finally made.
On to the V50 T5 AWD and that‘s a different animal altogether. The
manual box is Volvo‘s own, as on the S60 and V70 T5, with reverse down
beside 6th. To give clearance for the front to rear propshaft, the suspension
is jacked up a bit with thicker anti roll bars to help compensate. The other
advantage, of course, is a bit more clearance for driving on bumpy tracks.
This car puts its considerable power down very well and builds up speed
extremely rapidly. The Haldex clutched four-wheel drive system does its job
brilliantly and you‘re not aware of any unpleasant drivetrain whirrings.
Push into a greasy corner too fast, though, and in spite of the sophisticated
and unobtrusive DSTC system, you will ultimately experience understeer, as a
couple of our colleagues discovered when they hit a diesel spillage and slid
into the front wheel of an oncoming truck. I mention this because it proved to
be an excellent test of the Volvo‘s crash safety system. In this glancing
impact, only the side airbags were deployed, which is exactly what should have
happened, and, despite the shock, neither driver not passenger were injured in
the slightest. In normal circumstances, most drivers will never get near these
limits, but it is comforting to know the car will look after you if the crunch
Volvo also offered an opportunity to try the V50 T5 AWD
automatic on a typical rough and hilly farm track. Precisely the sort of access
road buyers of this sort of car buy it for. And it was fine, adroitly switching
power to the wheels with the most traction and probably making it the best
caravan or single horsebox tower in the range.
I‘d better also
mention that I drove to the airport in Ford‘s latest 2004 model Mondeo
2.5V6 6-speed manual Ghia X and before that drive had started to forget what a
fine car Ford‘s Mondeo now is. Smooth, quick, surefooted and capable,
it‘s easily as good as the lower powered 5-cylinder S40s. It simply lacks
what Volvo call ’form over function‘ appeal (it doesn‘t buy you
the status of an S40 or V50).
But when the decision is between a V50 or
the equivalent A4 Avant, it‘s a really hard one to make. The Volvo diesel
definitely does nudge ahead of the A4 TDI PD 130. Whether the V5 T5 AWD beats
the A4 3.0 Quattro is a much tougher call. All I can say is I‘d be very
happy indeed with either. And If I went for the Volvo I‘d definitely find
something to do with the £1,500 I‘d save.
In mid 2004, in
time for most of this year‘s deliveries, the 2.0 diesel will acquire an
Additive Supported Diesel Particulate Filter, enabling it to beat the Euro 4
regulations by a wide margin. The system is cleaned automatically as the
contents of the filter are burned off at regular intervals by means of a cerium
oxide additive automatically released into the fuel system that allows the
process to take place at a comparatively cool 450 degrees centigrade.
PRICE/AVAILABILITY1.8S petrol 125bhp five
speed: £17,363 (3rd 1/4 2004)
1.8SE petrol 125bhp five
speed: £19,613 (2nd 1/4 2004)
2.4iS petrol 170bhp five
speed: £19,838 (1st 1/4 2004)
2.4iSE petrol 170bhp five
speed: £22,088 (1st 1/4 2004)
2.0D S diesel 136bhp six
speed: £18,613 (2nd 1/4 2004)
2.0D SE diesel 136bhp six
speed: £20,863 (2nd 1/4 2004)
T5 220bhp six speed:
£24,963 (1st 1/4 2004)
T5 AWD 220bhp six speed: £25,963
(3rd 1/4 2004)
Volvo V50 1.8 S: £16,759, save
£604 (3.5% discount)
Volvo V50 2.0D S: £17,950, save
£663 (3% discount)
Volvo V50 2.0D SE: £20,087, save
£775 (3% discount)
Volvo V50 2.5 T5 SE: £23,965, save
£998 (4% discount)
Spec: ABS with Brake Assist, Dynamic Stability and Traction Control,
electro-hydraulic power steering, electronic climate control, 16" alloy
wheels, radio/CD player, 6 speakers, electric windows front and rear, electric
heated mirrors, height/reach adjustable steering wheel, driver and passenger
front airbags, inflatable curtain side airbags, WHIPS seats, SIPS-bags front,
alarm/immobiliser, remote door locks, centre console cupholders/oddments
holders, manually height adjustable front seats.
leather upholstery, aluminium, wood or iced aqua inlays, steering wheel audio
controls, autodimming rear view mirror with compass, rain sensing wipers,
cruise control, 17" alloy wheels, front fog lights, fuel computer,
bodycolour side mouldings, 6 CD multiplayer with 8 speakers and 4x40W
Option Packs include:
Winter Pack of headlamp
washers, heated front seats and floor mats £350.
of fuel computer, rain sensing wipers, grocery bag holder, steering wheel audio
controls and cruise control £600.
Family Pack of integrated rear
seat booster cushions, rear sun curtain and power child locks
Bi-Xenon Pack of Bi-Xenon headlamps, headlamp cleaning
system, heated front seats, luxury floor mats £600.
5-speed automatic transmission £1,250.
High performance speaker
sound system with 6CD multiplayer £250
Premium sound system with 12
speakers and Dolby surround sound £500.
RTI DVD navigation system
Power sunroof £700.
Power drivers seat with memory
Power driver and passenger seats £1,200.
folding mirrors with ground lights £200.
Front fog lights
Metallic paint £500.
Boot mat £95.
Rubber floor mats £75
Bumper protector £50.
Roof boxes £220 -
Bike racks £60 - £95.
Off black upholstery
Lava Grey upholstery
Warranty 3 years or 60,000 miles, 3 year paint warranty,
12 year no perforation warranty.
ENGINES/TRANSMISSIONS1.8 16v chain-cam petrol
1,798cc: 88kW (120PS) at 6,000rpm / 165Nm (122 lb ft) torque at
2.0D 16v belt cam diesel 1,998cc: 136bhp at 4,000rpm,
340Nm (251 lb ft) torque at 2,000rpm.
2.4i 20v belt cam petrol
2,435cc: 170bhp at 6,000rpm 230Nm (170 lb ft) torque at
T5 belt cam petrol turbo 2,521cc: 220bhp at 5,000rpm,
320Nm (236 lb ft) torque at 1,500 – 4,800rpm.
5-speed manual (1.6i,
1.6D, 1.8i, 2.4i)
6-speed manual (2.0D, T5)
CVT auto (1.6D,
5-speed auto (2.4i, T5)
DIMENSIONSLength 4,514mm (14‘
Width (not including mirrors) 1,770mm (5‘ 10")
1,452mm (4‘ 9")
Headroom (without sunroof) front/rear
Legroom front/rear 105.7/87.4mm
Luggage Capacity 417 litres,
717 litres, or 1,307 litres to ceiling.
Cargo length 989mm
between wheelarches 1,005mm
Cargo length, rear seat folded down
Cargo length rear seat and passenger seat folded 3,060mm
weight 1,399 – 1,499kg (excluding driver)
PERFORMANCE, FUEL CONSUMPTIONV50 1.8i 125bhp manual: 0-60 TBA seconds; top speed TBA
mph; combined consumption TBA l/100km (TBAmpg); CO2 emissions TBAg/km (VED Band
TBA pa) EU4
V50 1.8i 125bhp automatic: 0-60 TBA seconds; top
speed TBA mph; combined consumption TBA l/100km (TBAmpg); CO2 emissions TBAg/km
(VED Band TBA pa); EU4
V50 2.4i 170bhp manual: 0-60 8.0 seconds;
top speed 138mph; combined consumption 8.6 l/100km (32.8mpg); CO2 emissions
204g/km (VED Band D £160 pa) EU4.
V50 2.4i 170bhp
automatic: 0-60 8.7 seconds; top speed 134mph; combined consumption 9.2
l/100km (30.7mpg); CO2 emissions 220g/km (VED Band D £160 pa);
V50 2.0D 136bhp manual: 0-60 9.3 seconds; top speed 130mph;
combined consumption 5.7 l/100km (49.6mpg); CO2 emissions 153g/km (VED Band A
V50 T5 220bhp manual: 0-60 6.6 seconds; top
speed 149mph; combined consumption 8.8 l/100km (32.1mpg); CO2 emissions 209g/km
(VED Band D £160 pa)EU4
V50 T5 220bhp automatic: 0-60 7.0
seconds; top speed 146mph; combined consumption 9.5 l/100km (29.7mpg); CO2
emissions 227g/km (VED Band D £160 pa)EU4
V50 T5 220bhp AWD
manual: 0-60 TBA seconds; top speed TBAmph; combined consumption TBA
l/100km (TBAmpg); CO2 emissions TBAg/km (VED Band D £160
V50 T5 220bhp AWD automatic: 0-60 TBA seconds; top speed
TBAmph; combined consumption TBA l/100km (TBAmpg); CO2 emissions TBAg/km (VED
Band D £160 pa)EU4