Volvo V50: Downsizing works

Six months didn't seem to take long in the V50 - and it seems bizarre now that my first journeys in it were taken tentatively in a few inches of snow.

During its time with us, it proved a useful and versatile workhorse, a comfortable motorway cruiser, and it squared up against the more powerful and more expensive BMW 320d Touring we were running - and scored at least a moral victory.

We liked its frisky-yet-refined diesel engine and although it ranks among the smaller estates on the market for load volume, it has many practical features that make it stand out from the crowd.

Speaking of standing out from the crowd, the R-Design styling pack gives the V50 a far more chiselled appearance than the standard car, and in my eyes at least it ranks among the more handsome estates.

It has regularly achieved around 45mpg in mixed driving, which is very close to the official average figure, and despite its relatively compact dimensions, has occasionally been called upon to transport five people.

It has led to a new found respect for the V50 from me. I've driven versions of the car many times since it was launched in 2004, and knew it was a decent product.

But spending almost every day with this particular model for six months has given the V50 the opportunity to show just how good it is.

It might not be Volvo's biggest car, but its practicality has shown it has enough Volvo heritage to make it a desirable model for people who want a compact estate car.

Current mileage: 10081

Average mpg: 45.9mpg