The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The Volvo V70 is a traditional estate with a huge boot. It offers the same practicality of an MPV or 4x4, without sacrificing a car’s driving credentials. It received revised engines and a new infotainment system in 2011.
Reasons to buy:
- Enormous boot
- Soothes away the miles
- More subtle than a big 4×4
How good does it look?
The Volvo brand is not exactly synonymous with dramatic styling. The Volvo V70 is on the conservative side of bland from top to tail. The signature tall rear light clusters are attractive, though, the bulging waistline is nicely proportioned and for 2011, LED indicators have been fitted in the door mirrors. It’s not bad, it’s just not outstanding.
What's the interior like?
Behind the wheel the functional-but-dull theme continues. The centre console lacks character, but it’s perfectly coherent and intuitive, which aids relaxation. We found the driver’s arm rest obstructive when reaching for the handbrake, but apart from that the cabin was a comfortable and pleasant place to be – especially with the intuitive air-con and leather seats fitted to many models.
How practical is it?
This is the V70’s trump card. Even with five people in the car you can still chuck a vast amount of luggage in the back. The floor lifts on hydraulic struts giving easy access to extra storage. The statistics say three’s 485 litres of storage space with the seats up which balloons to 1,641 with them down. That long rear end must make parking a nightmare though? Not a bit of it. The wide, low rear windows make reversing a doddle and the parking sensors also help if fitted.
What's it like to drive?
The decidedly motorway-tuned ride was definitely comfortable but lacked a little feel. But the trade-off in its favour was that the ride stayed smooth even with the passenger seats and boot filled – aided by the Load Compensation Suspension, which helps even out the ride when the car is heavy. In almost all respects the controls were pleasantly light for such a big car, particularly the lithe steering and reassuringly refined gearbox. But the clutch felt over-weighted and it wasn’t until we’d spent five minutes carefully adjusting the seat that we felt able to operate it comfortably.
How powerful is it?
Three petrol and three diesel engines make up the range, with the latter proving the most popular. Fans of frugal motoring will find the DRIVe model, with its 115bhp, 1.6-litre engine appealing. Despite its size, it’s capable of pushing the V70 to 62mph in 11.5 seconds before reaching a 118mph top speed. The smooth D3 engine is perhaps the best all-rounder, with 163bhp propelling the big saloon to 62mph in 9.4 seconds and a 130mph maximum. A new D5 engine sees an impressive 215bhp for a 7.6 second 0-62mph time and a 140mph top speed. The 1.6-litre T4 is the petrol engine that makes most sense, offering impressive performance from its small capacity, while the niche 240bhp T4 and 304bhp T6 complete the lineup.
How much will it cost me?
Most of the engines in the V70 emit low levels of CO2, have good fuel economy, and the diesels have seen a raft of fuel-saving changes for 2011. Most impressive is the 1.6-litre DRIVe model that emits just 119g/km of CO2 and can cover 62.8mph. The best-selling 2-litre D3 engine emits just 134g/km of CO2 and achieves 54.3mpg on average. Automatic versions sit at 159g/km and 47.1 respectively. Surprisingly the more powerful, manual 2.4-litre D5 has even lower emissions, 134g/km, and betters the D3’s fuel economy by 1mpg. Insurance costs are average compared to its major rivals and used values could be better, and are behind the standard set by the premium brands.
How reliable is it?
Volvo produces well-built cars with dependable backup behind them. The V70 gives a tangible impression of all-round sturdiness and solidity. The V70 has been subject to a number of manufacturer recalls, so it’s important to check necessary fixes have been carried out to prevent reliability issues.
How safe is it?
You can always rely on Volvo to screw a car together properly and then fill every available space with airbags. Sure enough all V70 models feature driver, passenger and side airbags, plus curtain airbags and whiplash protection. City Safety, which lessens the damage caused by low-speed shunts is standard on all models, alongside driver, passenger, side and head airbags, dynamic stability control (DSC) and traction control. There are also ISOFIX child safety seat fasteners for the rear seats. A lane departure warning system, blind spot monitoring and Pedestrian Detection which can stop the car should colliding with a person be imminent are available at extra cost.
How much equipment do I get?
There are the usual Volvo trims, ES, SE, SE Lux, R-Design and DRIVe. All are well equipped and the spec list includes alloy wheels, electric door mirrors and cruise control. ES is an entry-level trim, while SE and SE Lux add comfort and convenience to the model. R-Design and adds sporty features such as a body kit and a bespoke alloy wheels. Volvo has improved the dated infotainment system which is now compatible with sat nav, phone, reversing camera, DVD player and digital TV if fitted. Various option packs are available as well as iPhone and Android apps which enable the user to locate the car, lock or unlock the doors, see whether the alarm has been activated, check fuel levels and view driving data for the last 40 days.
As an alternative to taller 4×4s and MPVs, the V70 is an excellent solution. It’s good to drive unladen it can manage heavy loads with ease as well. It lacks some excitement, but a V70 is bought with the head, not the heart. Visit the Volvo website now for more information on the Volvo V70.