When I first started selling Volvos in 2008, the smallest wagon in the lineup was the V50. It was a close relative to the C30, C70, and S40 having the same front end, dashboard, and interior. And most of them came with an underpowered 2.4L inline-5 cylinder engine which only produced 168 hp. But a select few customers bumped up to the T5 which added a turbo and another 50 hp. It was well worth the extra expense. With 218 hp and 236 lb. ft. of torque, the turbo charged inline 5 cylinder turned a people mover into something you wanted to drive.
Our dealership recently took in a 2007 Volvo V50 T5 automatic with Geartronic. This one is nicely equipped with the optional Premium & Climate packages. That gives you niceties like:
- power glass moonroof
- leather seating surfaces
- power front seats
- memory function for power driver seat
- roof rails
- auto-dimming mirror
- Compass in rearview mirror
- heated front seats
- headlamp washers
- Rain sensor
For whatever reason, most of our customers were happy with the base car as long as it had heated seats. So, this car will be an easy one to sell with so many options.
Last weekend, I took this V50 for a test drive through the country. As suspected, the T5 brought a smile to my face. It had plenty of pep when needed even when hauling our family of five. The turbo adds that zip that you want and often need when driving up and down the hills and around the bends in northeastern Ohio. When Car & Driver first got their hands on a V50 T5 they described it as “a sporty small wagon now with enough power, features, and style to truly compete with the Germans.” That’s high praise for a Swedish car that was happy to settle for safety honors every year.
When I was in high school a friend bought a souped up Chevy Nova with a slap-shifter. To shift gears, all he had to do was “slap” or bump the gear shifter and it would change gears. Volvo has something similar with the Geartronic automatic transmission. Place the gear selector in Drive and you wouldn’t notice anything different. But slip it over into manual mode and the car stays in gear until you bump the selector up or down. This is especially helpful when you want to use the engine’s RPMs to hold the car steady going around a corner without slowing down. Just think of what you do with a manual transmission and you’ll understand. It gives you the benefits of a manual transmission without the extra pedal. This makes it nice because you can keep it in automatic for traffic jams and in manual mode for your occasional need to feel like you own a sports car. There’s plenty of fun available and you still get 30-31 mpg on the highway!
The interior of the V50 is designed for smaller people. If you are looking for something that will hold five basketball players, you might look at the V70 or XC70 instead. But for our jaunt across the countryside, it was adequate for our family of five. I asked my six foot tall 14-year-old what he thought. “I wouldn’t want to take it for a family vacation but it was alright.” Take that for what it’s worth. I suppose I might say the same thing as well if sitting shoulder to shoulder with two siblings in the back of a compact wagon. But when I was along driving the V50, my perspective was different. The leather seats, while designed for a smaller body, were comfortable and easily adjusted with the power/memory functions. Add to that the telescoping and vertically adjustable steering wheel and you have the ability to find the perfect driving position for you … as long as a short person isn’t sitting behind you.
My opinion of the Volvo V50 T5 is a good one primarily because I like the performance. Someone has said that wheels make the car, but in this case, it’s the turbo that makes the car. The performance of the T5 makes this little wagon a fun car to drive. While the size is a bit small for a tall family, most tall people will opt for a bigger vehicle. But those of shorter stature will find this to be a good fit and a fun but economical car to drive.
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