The previous-generation Volvo V50 went on sale in 2004. It was surprisingly good looking and relatively small compared with the Swedish firm’s usual estate offerings.
It shares its underpinnings with the Ford Focus of the same era and, although it’s not as nimble as that car, the V50 is reasonably rewarding to drive as long as you avoid sport, R-Design and Drive-E models, which have firmer suspension.
Don’t be fooled into assuming that because it's a Volvo the V50 has a cavernous boot – it actually has less room than the Audi A4 Avant, BMW 3 Series Touring and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate. It does hold its own when it comes to interior quality, though.
If you want a good-looking alternative to the German brands, the V50 is a great choice. Read on to find out how much you should pay for a used V50 and which model to choose.
What budget do I need?
Although you can pick up a used V50 for as little as £1000, that money is only likely to net you a high-mileage example. You’d be better off spending around £3500 more for a car with full service history and reasonable mileage.
Double your budget to £6000 and you’ll get a well-maintained, low mileage example, or up it to £10,000 to get a late, low-mileage high-spec car.
What version should I go for?
The entry level S (later called ES) isn’t a bad bet; it comes with climate control, alloy wheels and a CD player. Move up to SE and you’ll also get parking sensors and cruise control, or if you’re after the lap of luxury, SE Nav provides sat-nav and full leather trim.
As for engines, we’d opt for the 1.8-litre petrol, especially if most of your driving is short town trips. The diesel particulate filters (DPFs) on the diesel engines are prone to getting clogged up unless you do regular motorway runs, and this can result in hefty repair bills.
Any problems to be aware of?
The V50 is generally reliable with the most common issues concerning the suspension and electrics.
Post-2008 diesels need more maintenance surrounding their particulate filters than earlier examples. And all five-cylinder engines need regular timing belt changes to avoid costly engine failures.
The V50 has been the subject of a number of recalls, so it’s worth checking everything has been done to any potential purchase.
Want to buy a Volvo V50? Click here to buy a new car with What Car?
Previous used cars of the week
Got a motoring question? Our experts are standing by to help, just tweet us your question using #askwhatcar
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here