2010 Volvo V50 T5 AWD R-Design Road Test Review

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Watch your back, Audi. There's another station wagon that combines European styling and luxury with entertaining performance at a price most mortals can afford. The Volvo V50 may be the first serious challenger that Audi's A4 Avant has ever had. The smallest Volvo wagon is a sure contender, with spirited performance, over 1,700 litres of cargo space and available All-Wheel Drive (AWD).

For 2010, the lineup is simplified with the T5 being AWD only. With sporty looks, especially in R-Design trim that includes a unique grille, polished exhaust, a body kit and unique seventeen-inch wheels, and performance to match, Volvo's compact wagon is ready to come out and play.

At a glance, the V50 looks much like its big brother V70. The V50's lines are more compact, with significantly shorter overhangs front and rear. Distinct shoulder lines run the length of the car, and Volvo's trademark high-mounted taillights dominate the rear aspect. Two distinct V50 models are offered, 2.4i and T5, while trim levels include base, Premium for the 2.4i, and the aforementioned R-Design package.

Inside, the V50's floating flat-panel console is inspired by television remote controls, and is just three inches thick. The panel resembles a ribbon of ancillary controls stretching from the top of the dash to the console, and allows for a handy storage cubby behind. It's available with aluminum or Nordic Oak inlays. Seating is up to Volvo's high standards for long-distance comfort both front and rear, and there's a choice of "T-Tec" fabric or leather. HD radio is now standard equipment. Optional amenities include Volvo's Keyless Drive, a moonroof, SIRIUS Satellite radio and a navigation system. In the T5 AWD, the R-Design theme continues inside as well, with special aluminum trim, blue-backed instruments and a sport steering wheel. The seats are upholstered in two-tone leather and "Flextec," with contrasting piping. When decked out in R-Design finery, the interior of the V50 is a nice place indeed. This car is also still a cargo-hauler, and both rear and passenger seats fold flat to expedite long cargo. Fully opened up, the V50 will carry more than expected in a compact wagon.

A choice of naturally-aspirated and turbocharged five-cylinder engines are on hand to power the V50. The base V50 2.4i features a 2.4-litre five-cylinder whose output is 168 horsepower. For more power, the V50 T5 AWD gets a 2.5-litre five-cylinder with a high-pressure turbocharger that boosts the output to 227 horses. For under-the-skin safety, the V50's engine is a slim-design model that limits intrusion into the interior in the event of a severe frontal crash. A five-speed standard gearbox is standard on the 2.4i model while a six-speed manual is standard with the T5 AWD. Either model is available with an optional five-speed automatic. All-wheel drive is provided by Haldex' fast-acting system, which cuts power to slipping wheels and transfers it to those with grip. On ice, Volvo claims the V50 will move if just one tire has traction.

Though the V50 shares the S40 sedan's basic four-wheel independent suspension setup, Volvo has tweaked the V50 with an eye toward carrying cargo without losing its sporty edge. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes are standard, as is Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC). Volvo also equips the V50 with adaptive brake lights that use fast-acting LED lights to flash during panic braking situations, warning drivers behind of rapid deceleration. Since it's a Volvo, the list of standard safety equipment is impressive, including anti-submarine seats, front, side and side-curtain airbags and whiplash-protection headrests.

Volvo has long been known as a producer of excellent station wagons, and though they have lost their distinctively boxy look, the Swedish cargo haulers are still among the most capable in the business. The available all-wheel drive turns the V50 into a viable alternative to an SUV or crossover, as well. Best of all, when it's packing the turbocharged five-cylinder and all-wheel drive, it's a decent all-weather sport wagon. V50 pricing starts at $30,495 and the top-line T5 AWD R-Design available from $48,195.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Wagon, Volvo, 2010, V50, $30,000 - $39,999,

Organizations: Volvo

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