Volvo's V50 estate is sporty, yet safe and, with its increased dimensions and horde of safety features, has a serious amount of chutzpah.Volvo's V50 estate is sporty, yet safe and, with its increased dimensions and horde of safety features, has a serious amount of chutzpah.

A bigger sibling of the S40, the V50 is 46 mm longer. The track and wheelbase have been extended, which contributes to the wagon's sporty appearance, and the section behind the rear wheels extended to increase the luggage space.

The exterior combines rounded roof lines and an abrupt tail with a softly rounded nose, short bonnet and the marked cab-forward design.

The most distinctive interior feature is the elegant floating centre console that links the tunnel console with the instrument panel and conceals a storage compartment for that is accessible from both the driver and passenger sides.

The five-cylinder engine is installed transversely, and is 200 mm slimmer than previous incarnations, creating greater space between the engine and passenger compartments. In a collision, the engine can be pushed 150 mm rearwards before being stopped by the cross-member near the bulkhead.

The new Volvo V50 also shares the same type of interior safety system as that found on the larger Volvo models, including Whips (whiplash protection system), Sips (side impact protection system) with side-impact airbags and inflatable curtains.

Fifty-four millimetres wider than the V40, the V50's extra space along the side allows for added deformation in a side impact.

The V50 has also been designed with pedestrian safety in mind. The curves and panels of the car's front end are shaped to help reduce the risk of injury to pedestrians and cyclists in the event of a collision.

An energy-absorbing structure ahead of the bumper helps reduce the risk of leg injuries, Volvo claims, and the bonnet and front wings were "designed to absorb collision energy" and reduce the risk of head injuries.

The bodyshell of the V50 is 34 per cent stiffer than that of the V40. The suspension consists of spring struts at the front and a multilink system at the rear. The rear suspension provides a certain degree of passive steering to counteract any tendency to skid, the manufacturer claims.

The new five-cylinder in-line engines have a displacement of 2,4- and 2,5-litre respectively. The entry-level 2,4i is powered by a 2 435 cm3 normally aspirated five-cylinder engine delivering 125 kW and 230 N.m of torque.

The most powerful engine housed in the V50 is the 2,5-litre turbo-charged engine. The T5 has a maximum power of 162 kW and produces torque of 320 N.m. The 2,4-litre derivative gets Volvo's new five-speed manual transmission while the T5 has the six-speed manual transmission developed for the Volvo S60 R. Both models come with the option of a five-speed automatic unit with adaptive gear changing.