What is it?
Interesting rival to the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series. Good build quality and quirky looks help it stand out.
This is the best-handling Volvo, better to a surprising degree than the related S40 and V50. It gives a nicer of feeling of connection and feedback, and the grip isn’t too high so you can play a bit near the borders.
There’s a bewildering range of eight engines, including one that’ll take E85 bioethanol mix. The four-cylinder petrols are a bit unexciting, and then there’s a gap to the superb T5, which is a fine-sounding engine and kicks you to 60mph in little over 6sec without being mad on the CO2 scale. The diesels are a bit noisy: among them the 1.6 is weedy but the 2.0 is OK and the D5 muscular if heavy.
On the inside
Again an improvement on the related Volvos, the ride is firm but never harsh and the damping feels consistent, without getting shuddery. You get superb seats and good visibility too.
It’s strictly a four-seater and two of them mustn’t really be full-sized adults. The boot is a bit of a joke, or rather the luggage cover, which displays your stuff to thieves like meat in a butcher’s window.
It’s basically a Focus cousin, so even if Volvo dealers have grand ideas about servicing costs you shouldn’t be too stung.