Volvo V50: load lugger

First impressions

Volvo's appeal has been partly due to its reputation for safe cars, and for many people the image conjured in their mind at the mention of the company is a large estate car.

The Volvo V70 has been the best seller in the Volvo range, but in 2008 the most popular car in the range in the UK was the V50.

The V50 is the smaller sibling of the V70 - more a rival for low-end BMW 3-Series Touring, Audi A4 Avant and Saab 9-3 Sportwagon as well as cars like the Volkswagen Golf estate.

The car we've chosen to run uses a 2.0-litre diesel engine (also used in many other vehicles through its joint development between Ford and PSA Peugeot-Citro├źn), and is an R-Design Sport model.

R-Design was added to the range in 2008 giving models a more aggressive appearance with larger alloy wheels and interior and exterior styling features including in our V50's case a roof spoiler.

The R-Design package is a styling equivalent to BMW's M Sport specification and Audi's S-line.

Additional features on our test car include keyless entry and go, satellite navigation, cornering headlights and BLIS (Blindspot Information System), all of which will be dealt with in future updates.

However, one I will mention now is the winter pack. It comprises heated front seats, thicker floor mats and headlamp washers. As the car arrived with the remnants of winter lingering on, these features have made an early positive impression.

Current mileage: 1125

Average mpg: 42.4