I’m generally averse to estates as they are probably as far away from what I class as ‘cool’ in a car as possible.
But not the Volvo.
It doesn’t seem as lengthy as other estates and with its chunky roof bars and alloy wheels, it actually looks quite sporty.
The contemporary Swedish styling continues inside with a minimalist dash which neatly houses a sleek control panel with a plethora of switches to control everything from the temperature to the stereo.
But the V50 T5 is more than just a pretty face – it has the brawn to go with it. A 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine gives 220bhp and 326lb-ft of torque is enough to keep most petrol-heads happy – top speed is a blistering 149mph.
But all this power at the top end of the rev range is fairly pointless to me. With the top speed on UK motorways set at 70mph and the majority of my travels completed on minor or A roads, the Volvo never seems to come into its own. When the V50 hits 70mph it feels as though it has so much more to give.
The solid build quality, excellent soundproofing and comfortable seating actually makes it feel more like 40mph.
Maybe it would be a different story for our cousins in Europe trawling the German autobahns but for UK driving I much prefer a diesel with the extra low-down grunt.
Another problem with having such a hefty engine is fuel consumption. It’s no fun, especially for fleet drivers on long journeys, watching the fuel gauge move from full to empty within a single trip.
I undertook a trip to Leeds – and 342 miles later I had filled up twice, once at the start and once at the end, at a cost of £83. For a fleet driver doing this kind of schedule on a daily basis you’d be looking at hundreds of pounds every week.
I have managed to nudge the fuel consumption figure up a few points after taking over from our lead-footed production editor Trevor Gelken.
I am now getting 30mpg compared with Volvo’s official figure of 31.2mpg. The V50 T5 is now heading back to Volvo after its short stint with us. If it’s style and speed you’re after then this car is superb – but for the more frugal fleet manager with a cost-conscious attitude then I’d stick with Volvo’s more economical diesel models.
Model: Volvo V50 T5 SE
Price (OTR): £25,163
CO2 emissions (g/km): 209
Company car tax bill (2005/6) 40% tax-payer: £224 a month
Combined mpg: 31.2
Test mpg: 30.1
CAP Monitor residual value: £8,725/35%
HSBC contract hire rate: £534
Expenditure to date: Nil