The big estate is Volvo's trademark car, so does the latest V70 D3 show the Swedish marque back on top of its game? Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
Ten Second Review
The big estate used to be the default choice for car buyers with big family commitments and Volvo is hoping that the latest V70 estate with D3 diesel power can edge us back towards that status quo. The V70 is adept as a family vehicle and less so as the thrilling driving machine. The D3 engine is one of Volvo's latest 'Drive-E' 2.0-litre units and offers 150bhp, plus powerful torque and decent economy.
It isn't too hard to spot the family resemblance stretching from the V70 back to big Volvo estates of yesteryear. Getting too radical in terms of design would alienate existing Volvo buyers without attracting the sort of aesthetes who would normally shop for an Audi or a BMW, so Volvo wisely played it rather safe with this current V70, grafting its family front end and a slick-looking posterior onto a very practical basic silhouette. The D3 version we're looking here is now the most affordable variant and gets a 150bhp version of the brand's 2.0-litre 'Drive-E' diesel.
The engine in the D3 model we look at here is a 150bhp four cylinder turbo diesel and very impressive it is too. Get a bit sporty with the right boot and you'll see 62mph come and go in 9.8 seconds, although you'll need to be very slick at crashing through the manual gearbox to get anywhere near this time. The Geartronic automatic model can cover the sprint just as quickly but the time will be more easily replicated by non-racing drivers. In order to attract new customers to the fold, this generation V70 needed to adapt. It has. This is now a car that is more rewarding to drive, if still maintaining a keen emphasis on comfort. You simply have to press on over a twisty route to feel body control and road holding at decent levels. Unlike in its predecessor, passengers won't require a packet of travel sickness tablets to make spirited driving bearable. Is it a match for the sporty estates pedalled but Volvo's German rivals? No, that would be asking a little too much, but it surpasses them in other areas.
Design and Build
You'll really have to know your V70s to notice the aesthetic changes visited upon this revised version in recent years. There's a smarter front grille, Daytime Running Lights and added chrome touches to give the car a more upmarket and luxurious feel. The rear has completely redesigned bumper and tail lights. Overall though, Volvo hasn't been diverted from this car's raison d'etre - lugging gear. Lots of it. The clever trick is that the designers have disguised the car's inherent boxiness with neat detailing like the split high-level tail lights. There's a class-competitive 540-litres of virgin space back there and a massive space can be liberated if you fold the rear seats down and stack your cargo to the roofline. The 40-20-40 three part split/fold rear seat offers 16 different combinations and the loadbay floor itself features aluminium rails and movable anchoring points. A sliding load floor is also offered as an option as is a powered tailgate. Slip behind the wheel and you're treated to an example of Scandinavian design at its very best. The Adaptive Digital Display we first saw in the smaller V40 has been added to allow users to adapt the look of the instrument panel. New to the range is the Sensus Connected Touch infotainment system with its 7-inch centre touchscreen and microphone above the driver to enable voice control. Via this, you can connect to the internet using a mobile 'phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot. This allows you to connect to apps like Spotify.
Market and Model
Pricing - from around £26,000 - is comparable to what you'd pay for a BMW 3-Series Touring or and Mercedes-C-Class Estate with a similar engine but the V70 is quite a bit more spacious than these sports estates. The V70's capacity has more in common with executive models like the BMW 5-Series Touring or the Audi A6 Avant, which cost quite a bit more. Safety is a real strong suit of the V70 but then, it is a Volvo. DSTC dynamic stability and traction control is standard, along with front, side and curtain airbags plus the SIPS Side Impact Protection System. Other useful features include speed-sensitive power steering and an intelligent power parking brake that automatically disengages when the accelerator is pressed. There's also an innovative dual-stage integrated rear child booster seat that works in tandem with the V70's extended curtain airbags to provide unparalleled child safety.
Cost of Ownership
The high-tech nature of the D3 diesel engine promises a sparkling performance where running costs are concerned and it doesn't disappoint. The engine is Euro6 compliant and returns 68.9mpg on the combined cycle with CO2 emissions of 108g/km. This is good going for a car of the V70's size, although fitting the automatic gearbox hampers running costs a little.
This V70 remains an archetypal Volvo estate car and as a result, it isn't the most fashionable mode of transport on the road. What it does have is a strong set of abilities that will appeal directly to family buyers, with the D3 diesel engine showing the car in a particularly favourable light. You might even start to question why so many people buy large MPVs to cater for their family requirements. The big estate still has a future and there's little doubt that Volvo will be part of it.