Big, practical estates are Volvo’s bread and butter, and they don’t get any bigger from the Swedish brand than the V70. Based on the marque’s range topping S80 saloon, it boasts plenty of space and kit, but can it cut the mustard compared to its German rivals? Motors.co.uk spent the week with one to find out.
What is it?
On sale since 2007, Volvo has waited until now to give the V70 a mid-life facelift. The cosmetic changes are welcome, with a reprofiled bumper making the car appear more ground-hugging, and a dash of chrome detailing around the grille giving a more upmarket appearance. Engine options are diesel only, with all but the new ‘DriveE’ D4 – which offers a credible mix of performance and economy – ageing beyond their prime. Tested here is D3 Business Edition, which comes with choice extras such as sat nav, Bluetooth connectivity and parking sensors thrown in as standard, to keep costs as low as possible for company car drivers. It’s powered by a 134bhp 2.0-litre, five-cylinder diesel engine, which will return 62.8mpg and whisper out CO2 at a rate of 119g/km.
What is it like to drive?
The V70 has been set up as a comfortable mile-muncher rather than an adrenaline pumping driver’s tool, and this is immediately apparent the first time you approach a corner. Feeling heavy and cumbersome, the V70 exhibits none of the nimbleness of, say, the BMW 5 Series.The steering is slow geared and lifeless in feel, and the softly sprung suspension means a fair bit of roll in the bends. The manual gearbox of our test car was also clunky in its operation, reducing the desire to really drive the V70 with enthusiasm. Conversely, the car’s softness makes it a highly accomplished cruiser; the sort of car that makes light work of the longest and dullest motorway schleps. Here drivers will delight in the absorbent ride, supremely hushed cabin and the surprising amount of urge on offer from the engine once the revs are high enough into its comfort zone.
What is it like inside?
The V70’s mid-life facelift has also brought some welcome updates to the cabin, most noticeably the replacement of conventional dials with an active TFT system, the display of which can be tailored to suit different moods. Volvo hasn’t messed around with what made the V70’s interior great, so the fantastic (and orthopedically designed, don’t you know) seats and acres of lounging room remain. The overall design eschews the modern trends showcased by the Germans, opting instead for pleasing minimalism and straightforwardness that errs just on the right side of boring. The centre console is a prime example of this, being littered with more buttons than is fashionable these days. It may not look pretty, but it’s certainly handy having all of the car’s major ancillary controls at your fingertips while driving. Only the slightly confusing controls for the sat nav and on-board computer spoil the ergonomic delight.
Is it practical?
Is the Pope Catholic? The V70’s core strength is its practicality as an everyday lugger of people and things. Its commodious boot measures 575 litres (1,600 litres with the rear seats folded flat), and while that is outgunned by the simply enormous Mercedes E-Class estate, it is comparable with most rivals, particularly the BMW 5 Series Touring. The V70 is also loaded with clever touches, such as child booster seats built into the rear perches and a double boot floor (with its own hydraulic strut), useful for hiding expensive items from prying eyes. The large amounts of glazing also make manoeuvring this large car a doddle in confined spaces, while the standard parking sensors will provide an extra layer of safety.
Should I buy one?
Objectively, the V70’s largely dated range of engines and lacklustre drive make it hard to recommend against its premium rivals. However, that’s not to say it is without its charms. If you value a relaxed experience behind the wheel and the knowledge your loved ones are in one of the safest cars available, then the V70 is hard to ignore. We’d recommend sampling the newer D4 engine, which not only offers greater power and lower emissions than the D3, but is also available with a brand-new eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Search for a used Volvo V70 here
Volvo V70 D3 Business Edition
List price: £25,595
Price as tested: £31,255
Engine: 2.0-litre, five-cylinder, turbocharged, diesel
Max speed: 124mph
0-60mph: 10.0 seconds
Fuel economy: Urban: 53.5mpg, Extra-urban: 68.9mpg, Combined: 62.8mpg
Euro NCAP rating: Five stars