Volvo V70 review
The Volvo V70 is a spacious, safe and comfortable rival to estate versions of the Ford Mondeo, Skoda Superb and BMW 5 Series
The latest version of the Volvo V70 was launched in 2007, and is based on the S80 luxury saloon. It received a facelift in early 2013 as part of a near range-wide update. The V70 is a spacious and comfortable estate that rivals cars like the Skoda Superb Estate and BMW 5 Series Touring, and falls between the two on price. Volvo no longer offers any petrol engines in UK versions – they were never very popular choices anyway due to their heavy fuel consumption, high emissions and steep road tax bills. So buyers now only have the option of 1.6, 2.0 and 2.4-litre diesel engines, with a range of power outputs and efficiency claims. There’s also the choice of manual and PowerShift twin-clutch automatic transmissions, as well as a wide variety of trims – including a rugged XC70 model for buyers wanting to head off-road. No matter which version of the V70 you go for, though, safety equipment is comprehensive – as is the case with every Volvo – while even entry-level cars get alloy wheels, climate control and cruise control as standard.
Our choice: V70 D3 Business Edition
The design of the Volvo V70 is showing its age. At the front, the car is almost identical to the equally dated S80 saloon on which it's based. The overall look is conservative, with more than a passing resemblance to the old C30 hatch and the familiar stacked tail-lights at the rear. A facelift in early 2013 introduced a black-painted front grille radar, chrome grille surrounds and a larger Volvo badge. There isn’t a lot of design flair inside, either: although the interior is functional enough, and benefits from decent material quality, it doesn’t have the special feel of premium rivals like the BMW 5 Series Touring. Still, it certainly scores on comfort, with Volvo seats among the best in the business. The V70 is available in three specs: Business Edition, SE and SE Lux. All get daytime running lights, front foglights, Bluetooth, a DAB radio, climate control, cruise control and roof rails. SE and SE Lux cars upgrade the Business Edition’s 16-inch alloys to 17-inch designs, and also benefit from leather upholstery, while SE Lux models feature a memory function on the electric driver’s seat.
Buyers get a wide choice of diesel engines with the Volvo V70. Kicking off the range is the 1.6-litre four-cylinder D2, which provides 113bhp and 270Nm of torque. There are also 2.0-litre five-cylinder 134bhp D3 and 161bhp D4 engines, plus a 2.4-litre five-cylinder D5 diesel with 213bhp. The D2 can feel a little underpowered, though, so the D3 is our pick of the range: it's smooth, efficient and almost as quick as the more powerful versions. The V70 is a great motorway cruiser, as it’s refined, features pleasantly light steering and, thanks to the padded seats, is incredibly comfortable. However, parking the V70 can be a bit tricky around town, due to the large dimensions – although all models come with rear parking sensors – and as capable as this Volvo is on the road, rivals like the BMW 5 Series Touring and Skoda Superb Estate are more fun to drive.
Volvo still sells on its reputation for safety, so it’s no surprise that the V70 was awarded the maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests. It scored 88 per cent for adult occupants and 71 per cent in the safety assist category. Standard safety kit includes driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags, as well as whiplash protection, ABS, traction control. There’s also the City Safety autobrake system, which brings the car to a halt automatically if it senses an imminent collision, while Isofix child seat mountings boost the car’s family appeal. During its time on sale, the V70 has been recalled on a number of occasions, but there have been no reports of any major reliability problems. The engines are widely used across the Volvo range, so should be dependable in the long term. And impressively, despite its advancing years, the V70 finished 39th in the Auto Express Driver Power 2013 satisfaction survey, while Volvo came a superb eighth out of 32 manufacturers.
Big estates from Volvo used to be the kings of practicality, and the latest V70 still impresses in this respect. It has the edge over the BMW 5 Series Touring on boot size, although its 575-litre capacity trails the likes of the Mercedes E-Class Estate and Skoda Superb Estate. Even when you fold the rear seats, the car can’t match the mammoth maximum load space of the Superb. Still, the 1,600-litre figure should be more than enough for most people's needs – and the space is flexible, with the rear seats folding in a 40:20:40 split, while the flat floor should make loading awkward items easy. Useful touches such as hooks, nets and straps to keep everything in place add to the practical appeal, while further forward, there are lots of cubbyholes for passengers, including extra storage and cup holders in the rear centre armrest. Higher-powered versions of the V70 are popular among caravan owners, with the D5 PowerShift model offering a maximum towing capacity of 2,000kg.
Every model in the diesel-only Volvo V70 range benefits from stop-start technology, to minimise fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. And if efficiency takes priority over everything else, go for the D2 with the PowerShift twin-clutch automatic transmission – this combination delivers impressive 67.3mpg fuel economy and 111g/km emissions for low road tax bills. Buyers who find the D2 a bit underpowered will be delighted to hear that the 2.0-litre D3 isn’t far behind: it promises 62.8mpg fuel consumption and 119g/km emissions with a manual gearbox, but doesn’t compromise so much in terms of performance. Yet even the top-spec 2.4-litre D5 isn’t overly thirsty, with 58.9mpg and 126g/km. As with rivals like the BMW 5 Series Touring, insurance group ratings are quite high, but residual values could be better – the V70 won’t hold on to its price anywhere near as well as the likes of the 5 Series or Skoda Superb. And while Volvo offers fixed-price deals over a set term to cover the 18,000-mile service intervals, these packages are quite expensive.