Volvo V50 (2005)

Volvo V50

The Volvo V50 is the exciting five-door active lifestyle sportswagon that follows the introduction of the S40 sport sedan, which made its debut at the 2003 Frankfurt Motor Show.

The Volvo V50 replaced the V40, which was launched in the United States in 1999. Sales of the V50 sportswagon began in the U.S. in the summer of 2004 as a 2005 model.


"The V50 is the result of a consistent design strategy, in which the authentic Volvo character has been developed for each new model," says Henrik Otto, Volvo Cars' Design Director. "Our new sportswagon is indisputably a genuine Volvo but, at the same time, it has its own, totally individual and distinct profile - with characteristics from classics like the Volvo 1800 ES, Volvo 480 and its most recent predecessor, the V40.

Unique profile with extended cargo area

The rear of the Volvo V50 has an athletic, sporty design that sets it apart from the more traditional lines of the V70. The combination of its rounded rooflines and extremely abrupt tail is designed to create a modern look without limiting the practicality required of a wagon.

The softly rounded nose, the short hood and the marked cab-forward design reinforce this. The sportswagon look is further accentuated through the addition of the optional sport accessory kit, with its specially designed front, side and rear spoilers, larger wheels and dual exhaust tips.

The track and wheelbase have been extended, pushing the wheels out to each corner. This contributes to the sporty appearance, as well as giving the car predictable road manners. The long wheelbase also makes it possible to fit conveniently wide rear doors for ease of access.

The Volvo V50 is 1.8 inches longer than the S40. The section behind the rear wheels has been extended and utilized to increase luggage space.

"The luggage compartment is not simply spacious," says Henrik Otto. "It is also practical and easy to load, thanks to the vertical side windows and the totally flat load floor. It meets the demands of today's customers with 'a large capacity for life.' "

Vibrant design and style

The V50 has a completely individual profile that distinguishes itself as the all-new sportswagon from Volvo.

The grille has the same distinctive egg-crate mesh pattern that's found on the S40. The hood has the classical V shape. The contour lines of the body - the strong, distinctive shoulders - have also been incorporated. The high rear tail lamps are another indication of the V50's Volvo-wagon heritage. The overall design and style defines the sportswagon and differentiates itself from Volvo's family wagon, the V70.

Dynamic speedboat inspired body

From above, the body resembles the shape of a sleek speedboat, with a rounded prow, a broad mid-ship section and a narrowing stern. Together with the broad shoulders, this shape creates a sporty, athletic impression, while contributing to the Volvo V50's excellent aerodynamics.

The doors of the Volvo V50 are convex in shape, unlike the concave design of the doors on the larger Volvo models. This reinforces the sporty appearance and increases the width of the cabin.

The windshield wipers are entirely new and are recessed under the hood. The turn signal indicators are integrated into the door mirrors, where they are easily visible from the sides.

A number of newly designed aluminum wheels, several of which are unique to the Volvo V50, are available as options. The sportiest wheels are 18 inches in diameter and are equipped with ultra-low profile 215/45 tires.

Exterior Sport Styling

The Volvo V50 is available with an Exterior Sport Styling kit, which further accentuates the aggressive, dynamic image of this new model.

The package includes specially designed spoilers front and rear, side skirts and a rear roof spoiler. A lowering kit, which reduces the ride height by .75 inches, further enhances the appearance of the V50.

A large capacity for life; uncluttered Scandinavian interior

The interior of the Volvo V50 is built of several visual layers. The first layer shows as an edge trim around the entire interior, along the side windows and the windscreen. It creates the impression of being safely ensconced in a cocoon.

The next layer is the instrument panel. It has a clean, uncluttered layout, with air vents and other details positioned as islands in an otherwise open environment. The instrument panel incorporates a new surface, a texture conveying a feel of cutting-edge technical innovation rather than classical leather-trimmed furniture. This special surface texture separates the instrument panel visually from the outer edge trim of the cabin.

The main instrument cluster features two easily readable round gauges, surrounded by contrasting metal bezels. This design creates a sporty, three-dimensional appearance.

Elegant and spacious

The unique, super-slim, free-floating center stack (which was introduced in the Volvo S40) constitutes the topmost layer of the interior. It links the center tunnel console with the instrument panel in an elegant, modern manner.

Behind the center stack, there is a practical storage compartment for personal possessions, which can be easily accessed from both sides. This compartment features soft lighting, further accentuating the impression of a free-floating panel.

"The stack is the ultimate design symbol of this new car and represents a revolution in itself. A great deal of creativity and effort has gone into finding a technical solution for the super-slim format," explains interior designer, Guy Burgoyne.

Multiple interior choices

Like the other panels in the car, the center stack can be specified with different decor panels. This gives buyers the opportunity to adapt the car to their particular tastes.

  • In the base model, the color of this panel is the same as the basic interior color.
  • The dark panel "Wood Effect" creates a more elegant, refined environment.
  • The "Aluminum" panel, made of real metal, adds a high-tech feeling to the roomy interior.

Multi-function controls

The controls on the center stack have been given an ergonomic, functional design. Most of them perform several different functions in a logical, easy-to-use way. The top half of the control panel is used to operate the audio system, while the lower half is dedicated to the climate control system.

The four large knobs are used to regulate the main system functions such as the stereo volume or cabin temperature. Other function buttons have been gathered together on a panel resembling a TV remote control. Each push-button is designed to help the driver avoid depressing two at the same time.

The audio system in the Volvo V50 can be supplemented with the same cutting-edge technology that was introduced in the Volvo XC90 - the awesome Dolby Surround Pro Logic II, offering up to 445 watts for concert quality sound.

Theater lighting

Inside the Volvo V50, there are a number of discreet lighting points. They create a theater-like effect by softly lighting different sections of the interior. Among other things, the center stack is constantly lit from the roof, but the light is so soft that it never distracts the driver. The first time the light makes its presence felt is when the driver moves his or her hand towards a control, something that facilitates easy operation when driving at night.

T-Tec upholstery

The interior is available with a choice of two shades: off black and dark beige. Each interior color comes with a range of matching upholstery colors.

Leather is one of four upholstery alternatives. The most innovative upholstery is Dala, a ribbed textile with T-Tec elements and visible light-colored seams.

T-Tec is a material that has been developed exclusively for Volvo Cars and is inspired by sportswear and modern travel accessories.

Fold-down backrests

The cab-forward design, the long wheelbase and Volvo's Intelligent Vehicle Architecture of transverse engine installation combine to give the V50 a spacious cabin that may be rearranged in the same flexible manner as the Volvo V70. The rear seat splits into two sections and the backrests fold down. The front passenger seat is equipped with a fold-flat backrest. With the seats folded, the load floor is completely flat from the rear lift gate to the glove compartment, making the V50 perfect for hauling long, often cumbersome loads.


The Volvo V50 is available with a choice of two 5-cylinder engines.

"Making room for a five-cylinder engine under the V50's hood is something of a work of art," says Peter Ewerstrand, project leader for the V50 and S40. "We have succeeded by using new methods to reduce the exterior dimensions of the engine."

The result is a car that offers high performance and driving pleasure. The compact dimensions of the engine also contribute to the very high level of crash safety.

T5 turbo available with Electronically Controlled All-Wheel Drive

The Volvo V50 T5 AWD represents the top of the V50 line. It has a five-cylinder, 2.5-liter gasoline engine with a light-pressure turbocharger. Turbo technology produces exceptional torque from low to high revs. The high, flat torque curve ensures excellent acceleration.

The manifold and turbo unit in the T5 have been cast together in heat resistant (up to 1,922°F) high-alloy steel. The heat resistant steel helps to keep the air flowing into the turbo housing cool. As a result, the engine can be run on a leaner fuel mixture, resulting in lower fuel consumption and emissions, especially when driving at high speeds.

The T5 engine offers a maximum output of 218 bhp and 236 lb.-ft. of torque.

As with other Volvo's, all-wheel drive is supplied via the electronically controlled Haldex system. The engine's power is automatically distributed between the front and rear wheels by an electrically controlled hydraulic clutch, which reacts to wheel slippage within 1/7th of a rotation.

"The T5 engine and all-wheel drive give the V50 extremely enjoyable road manners," says Peter Ewerstrand. "Top-class performance is combined with responsive, stable driving characteristics."

Extremely efficient engine packaging

The new gasoline engines in the Volvo V50 (and the S40) are a further development of the low-friction engines that power the other Volvo models. Most of the external engine components, such as the brake booster and the air conditioning compressor, have been designed and packaged to take up exceptionally little space:

  • The exhaust manifold outlets are tucked in at a downward angle towards the engine block.
  • The exhaust manifold on the turbo engine are cast together with the turbo unit housing for added packaging efficiency.
  • The inlet manifold is compact-cast in fiberglass-reinforced plastic and is routed up over the engine.

More space between engine and passenger compartment

The result is an engine that is 7.8 inches slimmer and 1 inch shorter than the engine's found in other Volvo models. This compact format makes the engine lighter. Combined with Volvo's Intelligent Vehicle Architecture (VIVA) of transverse engine installation, it also contributes to a high level of crash safety, as there is added space for deformation in the engine compartment. In a collision, the engine can be shunted 5.9 inches to the rear before the crankshaft comes into contact with the cross-member near the bulkhead.

There is up to 2.8 inches of free space above the engine between the cylinder head and bonnet. This allows the bonnet to crumple gently, thereby helping to reduce the risk of head injuries if a pedestrian or cyclist should collide with the car.

Two Powerful engines for silky-smooth operation

The new 5-cylinder engines are available in two variants for the U.S. market: a normally aspirated 2.4-liter version producing 168 bhp and a light pressure turbo engine displacing 2.5 liters and producing 218 bhp. The 5-cylinder configuration and the large displacement produce high torque from low engine speeds - a perfect combination that provides exhilarating acceleration. Additionally, a 5-cylinder engine with its long stroke has a more relaxed and pleasant character (see separate Specifications document for additional information).

The engines share the same technology as the units that power other Volvo's in the lineup.

  • Four valves per cylinder and dual overhead camshafts - for high power and good response.
  • Variable camshaft timing (CVVT) - for high power and high torque in combination with lower fuel consumption and reduced emissions.
  • Electronic engine management system with precise, adaptive control - for efficient combustion and good performance.

Adaptive automatic transmission

The automatic transmission for the Volvo V50 is the same as that used in other Volvo models. It is a five-speed unit that utilizes an adaptive gear-changing pattern.

Stiff chassis with balance and poise

The Volvo V50 has been developed in the same spirit as the Volvo S60 and Volvo S80. The experience acquired from the advanced Volvo S60 R and V70 R has also helped to form the basis for this new vehicle.

"We wanted to produce a sportswagon with the right driving experience," explains Peter Ewerstrand. "Driving pleasure with responsive, stable road performance as the starting point."

The 5-cylinder powertrains laid the foundation for the V50's exceptional driving characteristics. Independent suspension all around, with a multilink system at the rear, produces a superb combination of comfort and sporting driving characteristics. The wider track and longer wheelbase, compared with the current Volvo V40 model, also contribute to the stable behavior the car exhibits on the road.

Front suspension geometry has been carefully balanced to provide quick, precise steering response, thereby enhancing the sporty appeal.

The steering is electro-hydraulic, with light, distinct and controlled steering feedback.

The Volvo V50 can be equipped with a sports chassis as an option (not the AWD model). Stiffer springs and reduced ground clearance help to produce greater directional stability in connection with sporty driving.

"People are entitled to expect a great deal from a modern sportswagon," concludes Peter Ewerstrand. "We are convinced that the Volvo V50 is going to offer a particularly pleasant driving experience. This will be largely due to the new powertrains, the carefully-balanced chassis and the exceptional torsional rigidity of the body."


The Volvo V50 is a sportswagon that is exhilarating to drive, flexible to use and exciting to look at. What's more, it offers class-leading safety - both protective and preventive. It's all part of Volvo's Intelligent Vehicle Architecture (VIVA).

Like the S40, the Volvo V50 has a very stiff body, a patented front structure and a comprehensive interior safety system, creating a vehicle with excellent safety characteristics.

The Volvo V50 also sees the introduction of Keyless Drive (delayed availability), a keyless locking/unlocking system with well-planned functions to add even more convenience to an already very functional car.

"Our newest models, the all-new V50 and S40, have been developed to comply with rigorous safety targets," says Ingrid Skogsmo, director of the Volvo Cars Safety Center.

In a collision, the preconditions for efficient deformation are extremely important. As the collision forces are absorbed within the car's structure, the properties of the various materials must be exploited to the maximum. This helps to maintain the integrity of the passenger compartment.

The frontal body structure of the Volvo V50 is divided into several zones, each with a different task in the deformation process. The outer zones are responsible for most of the deformation. The closer the collision forces get to the passenger compartment, the less the materials deform.

"The objective is that the passenger compartment act in a predictable manner in most types of collisions," explains Ingrid Skogsmo.

In order to give each zone the relevant properties, the quality of the steel varies. An innovative utilization of four different steel grades is employed. In addition to conventional bodywork steel, three different grades of high-strength steel are employed: High Strength Steel, Extra High Strength Steel and Ultra High Strength Steel.

This zonal system enables the collision forces to be absorbed in a highly ingenious and effective manner and is an important part of Volvo's Intelligent Vehicle Architecture. Each zone is summarized below:

Low-speed deformation zone

The front bumper incorporates a rigid cross-member made of Ultra High Strength Steel. The attachments to the longitudinal members of the body are designed in the form of 'crash boxes'. They help to absorb the forces generated by a low-speed collision without damage to the rest of the body structure. These crash boxes can be easily replaced and at a reasonable cost.

High-speed deformation zone

The straight sections of the side members are made of High Strength Steel, a very ductile grade of material, which is optimized for high-energy absorption. This is the zone that accounts for most of the deformation in a collision.

In addition, Volvo has opted to include upper side members in the compact Volvo V50, as they help provide significant occupant protection if the vehicle should collide with a truck platform or a loading pier, for example.

Back-up zone

The section of the member that turns outward toward the A-pillar is designed to act as a barrier for the passenger compartment and as a backup to help reduce deformation. The design also helps minimize the risk of the front wheel penetrating the interior. The wheel instead helps to absorb the collision forces. This section is extremely rigid and is made of Extra High Strength Steel.

Three-way attachment

A rigid cross-member connects the A- pillars and lower side members so that they form an extremely rigid three-way attachment on each side. This design plays a vital part in helping to maintain the cabin space in a severe crash.

The new front structure is one of Volvo's many patented safety designs.

Small, Light, Inline, Multivalve (SLIM) engines contribute to crash safety

Efficient packaging has enabled the 2.4-liter and 2.5-liter inline engines in the Volvo V50 to be made 7.8 inches slimmer and almost 1 (.98) inch shorter. As a key factor in VIVA, these engines are installed transversely. Their reduced width creates more space between the engine and passenger compartments. In a collision, the engine can be pushed 5.9 inches to the rear before the crankshaft comes into contact with the cross-member near the bulkhead.

The Volvo V50 also has an interior safety system design that is patterned after the Volvo S80.

The steering column can be deformed up to 5.5 inches. When deformed, the steering column moves horizontally, to provide the optimal airbag position for this vehicle.

Other safety features that are shared with the Volvo S80 include:

  • Collapsible pedals
  • Dual-stage airbags
  • Seat belt pretensioners for the front seats and rear outboard seats
  • Force limiter for the front seat belts

Side Impact Protection System

The Volvo V50 is 2.2 inches wider than its predecessor, the V40. This creates added space for deformation in a side-impact collision. In other respects, the Volvo V50 has the same type of side impact protection as the Volvo S80, with SIPS (Side Impact Protection System), side-impact airbags and inflatable curtains. These curtains are also designed to provide enhanced protection in the event of a rollover, by deflating more slowly (approximately three seconds) than the front airbags.

The side airbags are larger than those in the V40 model, to provide additional protection at hip and chest height.

Several features help to make the body stiffer and reduce side penetration:

  • The reinforced, transversely-installed tubular beam between the A-pillars
  • The strong, rigid SIPS-tubes in the seats and the deformable steel box in the center
  • The diagonally-installed beams made of Ultra High Strength Steel in the doors
  • The B-pillars which have been significantly reinforced and are dimensioned to help provide enhanced protection

Rear-end collisions

The Volvo V50 is also designed to provide enhanced occupant protection in a rear-end collision.

Volvo's system for avoiding neck injuries - WHIPS (Whiplash Protection System) - is one of the most effective on the market. In the event of a severe impact from the rear, the seat backrest and head restraint accompany the movements of the seat occupant's body.

The seats and backrests have a particularly robust design. They are designed to withstand loads from items such as unsecured luggage. At the same time, they are designed to yield in severe collisions in which a balance between strength and flexibility is important for occupant safety.

"Our seats are far sturdier than those that are usually found in most of the vehicles in this segment," says Ingrid Skogsmo. "This is particularly important in a five-door model with its additional load capacity."

Protection for other road users

The Volvo V50 has a frontal design with clean, smooth surfaces and rounded corners. The aim is to reduce the risk of injury to pedestrians and other road users in the event of an accident. Furthermore, the front has energy-absorbing characteristics, including a soft structure ahead of the bumper, to help reduce the risk of leg injuries.

The hood and front fenders are designed to absorb energy. This helps to reduce the risk of head injuries. In addition, the new SLIM gasoline engines leave a generous 2.8 inches of free deformation space between the cylinder head and hood.

Built for children too

Like other Volvo models, the Volvo V50 has been developed with children in mind. The safety structure of the body and the interior safety systems are designed to help protect the youngest occupants as well.

Both rear outer seats can be fitted with integrated child booster cushions for children above three years of age. The outer rear seat positions are equipped with ISOFIX attachment points for child seats (Warning: Never place a child seat of any type in the front seat of a vehicle equipped with a passenger side airbag. Volvo recommends that all children under the age of 12 be properly restrained in the rear seats at all times).


The body of the Volvo V50 is 34 percent stiffer than that of its predecessor, the Volvo V40, thanks to advanced body design. This torsional rigidity helps produce stable, predictable handling. Additionally, with its wide track and long wheelbase, the V50 displays exemplary driving characteristics.

  • The front track is 60.4 inches (2.9 inches wider than the V40)
  • The rear track is 60.8 inches (2.8 inches wider)
  • The wheelbase is 103.9 inches (2.9 inches longer)

The suspension is independent all around, with spring struts up front and a multilink system at the rear. The rear suspension helps to counteract any tendency to skid.

The Volvo V50 comes standard with STC (Stability and Traction Control) anti-spin system and can be fitted with DSTC (Dynamic Stability and Traction Control), which helps correct the progress of the car if it displays any sign of starting to skid

The Volvo V50 T5 will be available in combination with all-wheel drive. Volvo's electronically controlled AWD system distributes the torque automatically to help match the road conditions and driving style and is designed to provide more stable, predictable driving characteristics.

Effective brakes

The Volvo V50 has extremely effective ABS brakes - with electronic brake-force distribution to the rear wheels and automatic panic-braking assistance - EBA (Emergency Brake Assistance). The front wheels feature ventilated discs.

Projector-type headlamps

The headlamps feature projector-type low beams. The concentrated beam of light is surrounded by a "halo" which helps oncoming drivers judge the distance to the car.

Bi-Xenon gas discharge lamps (GDL) for high and low beams are available as an option.

Additional turn indicators in the door mirrors and integrated side-marker lights in the front and rear lamps make the Volvo V50 easy to see from the side as well.

Ergonomic driver's environment

A driving position with the correct ergonomic design, with all the instruments and controls in the right position, makes for safer driving. In this respect, the Volvo V50 continues this renowned Volvo tradition. It has a comfortable, ergonomically designed driver's seat, an adjustable steering wheel and a logically laid-out instrument panel.

Steering-wheel-mounted controls for the audio system, cruise control and RTI (Road and Traffic Information) navigation system further enhance driving safety.

Intelligent Driver Information System

The Intelligent Driver Information System - IDIS - is a new feature in the automotive industry, which has been inspired by fighter aircraft technology. The system helps the driver to avoid being distracted while driving.

The IDIS function continuously registers the driver's activity by monitoring steering wheel angles, acceleration, turn signal function and so on. This information is processed and, at a given activity level, information that is not essential - such as a bulb indicator - is held back.

IDIS is standard on all versions of the Volvo V50. IDIS is factory-prepared for forthcoming on-board systems for information and communication. The more of these functions the car has, the greater the benefit of IDIS.


Volvo's holistic view of safety encompasses not just protective and preventive safety, but also personal security. The Volvo V50 is designed to provide enhanced protection for the occupants of the car and their property, both while on the move and when the car is parked.

The Volvo V50 can, for example, be equipped with laminated side windows, an unusual feature for a car in this segment. Laminated glass is extremely difficult to smash and provides enhanced protection from break-ins.