Volvo Cars introduced the Volvo V50 at the 2003 Bologna Motor Show as the station wagon version of the Volvo S40 small family car—manufacturing both models at their facility in Ghent, Belgium.
Sharing the Ford C1 platform with the European Ford Focus and the Mazda 3, the V50 featured interior "theatre" lighting, a floating center stack and "Volvo Intelligent Vehicle Architecture". The V50 T5 AWD featured four-wheel drive and a straight-5 2.5-litre petrol engine with a light-pressure turbocharger, four valves per cylinder and a DOHC design with variable camshaft timing—providing 220 PS (162 kW; 217 hp) and 320 N·m (236 lb·ft) of torque. Diesel options were available in Europe, including a 2.4 Litre turbocharged D5 diesel engine which provided 180 PS (132 kW; 178 hp) and 350 N·m (258 lb·ft) of torque.
Within the United States, Volvo limited sales of the V50 PZEV cars to states where it was required, including California, Florida, Vermont, Connecticut, Arizona, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, Oregon, Maine, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New Mexico and Washington.
Volvo Cars Special Vehicle produced a concept car based on the V50, the V50 SV, whose engine produces 340 hp (254 kW), and debuted at the 2004 Specialty Equipment Market Association tradeshow in Las Vegas, Nevada.