Volvo V70 – Review
by Liam Bird
If, like me, you’ve hazy childhood memories of Spangles and Space-hoppers (let’s try to forget Showaddywaddy shall we?), then the merest mention of the name Volvo probably has you conjuring up images of solid, boxy estate cars and Margot and Gerry from The Good Life. Volvos, it seems, have almost always been square and more often than not, they’ve almost always been associated with the more salubrious sides of suburbia. Back when Polo Mints were 5p a pack, if you wanted a large, safe and socially aspirational estate car, a Volvo was the default choice.
Those core values still remain to day. The V70, Volvo’s modern interpretation of arguably what it’s most famous for, has been with us for a little while now, so its shape is instantly recognisable. From its low-slung nose (it aids pedestrian safety) right back to its near vertical tail, this Swedish estate is a handsome, if understated car. Although the 18” alloy wheels, chromed mirrors, front fog lamps, and twin tail pipes as fitted to the R-designed spec car from Volvo’s press fleet also hint at the V70’s sporty pretensions too. They also remind you a little of the 850Rs Volvo took touring car racing in the mid 1990s.
“Air of sophistication”
From the moment you first tug the V70’s sturdy door handle you get the impression that this is a car that’s been built to last; it’s a feeling that’s carried over to the inside too. Everything is laid out in that logical, stylish Swedish way. All of the switches are beautifully damped and slightly angled towards the driver in Volvo’s trademark Floating Stack. The leather is thick and soft, as is the multi-function steering wheel; the plastics are high quality, and the brushed aluminium used for door handles and around the 7-inch multi-media screen adds an air of sophistication to a cabin in which it’s easy to soak up the miles.
It’s quiet too. The use of those quality materials and, one suspects, some pretty effective insulation – the V70, in this spec at least, has its wheel arches filled with road-roller wide 245/40 section tyres – means that with a driving position that feels slightly higher than that of its contemporary’s, good visibility in almost all directions and the climate control set to cosy, the V70’s multi-air-bagged cabin is a pleasing place to be.
“Comfort and composure”
The 2.4-litre, twin turbo, 5 cylinder diesel unit suits the Geartronic six speed automatic transmission well. It provides more than enough relaxed oomph to keep things moving. The steering, although a little lacking in feel remains direct. However the V70’s ride does suffer on broken B-roads. It loses a little agility to some of its competition. The turning circle is huge. But, nevertheless, for a car of its size, its comfort and composure is admirable. I did over 170-miles non-stop, arriving home without any signs of fatigue.
But it’s the V70’s safety credentials and load swallowing abilities that make it such a family favourite. With the rear seats up the boot space will more than happily cope with a five-up airport run’s luggage. With them folded flat you’ll wonder if you ever need overnight accommodation again. You could quite happily stretch out and spend the night back there; the load space is gargantuan. Alternatively, if flat pack is your thing, Volvo have kindly supplied more than enough lashing hooks and eyes in order to tie down your Billy Bookcase and stop it bothering you on the way home from IKEA. There’s even a retractable net to stop everything sliding forward. And let’s not forget there are built-in two-stage booster seats and ISOFIX too.
“Doesn’t shout for attention”
Being a Volvo of course, the V70 is stacked with kit to keep you safe. Intellisafe – Volvo’s snappy title for all things safety conscious – encompasses such things as displaying the road signs on the instrument panel. A Pedestrian Detection system will deploy the brakes automatically if someone wanders in to your path and you don’t see them before the car does. Then there’s safety-belt pre-tensioners, whiplash protection, driver’s knee airbags, lane assist, intelligent cruise control… the list goes on.
We’re all a little older now but arguably, nothing’s changed. OK, so Volvo’s designers may not be so fond of their set squares these days. They’ve probably ditched their polo necks and flares too. But despite the best efforts of Bavaria’s finest motor-makers, if you’re in the market for a load-lugger that doesn’t shout for attention in quite the same way say a BMW 5 series touring, an Audi A6 Avant, or a even a Mercedes E-class Estate does, then a Volvo V70 should surely be on your shopping list.
Volvo V70 D5 R-design
Engine: 2400cc. 5 Cyl 20V Diesel Twin Turbo
Transmission: 6 Geartronic automatic front wheel drive
Power: 215bhp @ 4000rpm
Torque: 324 lbft @ 1400 – 3250rpm
0-62mph: 7.5 sec
Max Speed: 137mph
Mpg: 45.6 (combined)