Volvo V70 D5 SE Lux

All-new S80-based model builds on the firm’s strong tradition in this class

Most people associate Volvo with big, safe and comfortable estate cars. The company has a very loyal customer base and a conservative image, so the designers have played it safe with the new V70 – the styling certainly isn’t revolutionary.

From the front, it’s identical to the S80 saloon, and while the shape is more rounded than on previous models, there’s no mistaking that this is a V70. There’s a bigger glass area and a passing resemblance to the C30 hatch, while the rear end has familiar stacked tail-lights. Overall, the lines are unassuming – yet that’s exactly what many Volvo fans love.

They also expect a practical load space – and they won’t be disappointed. The new V70’s boot is 55 litres bigger than the previous model’s, while the revised tailgate means there’s a wider opening, too.

Loading is aided by the fact that the V70 has the lowest bumper lip of the four cars here at 600mm, as well as a maximum boot length of 2,040mm. So with the seats folded, only the Mercedes offers more through space. The Volvo also has a fully flat floor; in the BMW and Audi, the seatbacks are angled up slightly, while in the E-Class you have to tumble the bench against the front chairs to get a completely level load area.

Although the new Volvo is narrower around the wheelarches, its luggage space is the widest here, and with the seats in place, the 575-litre capacity is bettered only by the Merc. Rear passenger room is good, too, and up front the cabin is identical to the S80’s.

The cockpit gets the minimalist styling we have come to expect from Volvo, and material quality is impressive. While it’s distinctive, the layout isn’t as elegant as that in the E-Class, but it’s hard-wearing and easy to get on with. Plus, what the heavily bolstered seats lack in support, they more than make up for with their padding, so long journeys are comfortable.

There’s a wide range of adjustment both for the steering wheel and the driver’s seat, and the interior is dominated by the floating dashboard concept first seen in the S40. Ergonomically, the V70 is excellent.

When it comes to driver appeal, owners of the previous car will be impressed by the new model’s stiffer chassis and improved handling. However, the V70’s front-wheel-drive layout doesn’t feel as sophisticated or agile as its rivals’. The soft suspension means the ride is comfortable over smooth surfaces, but the damping doesn’t prevent bumps on the road from being transmitted into the cabin.

The Volvo is capable in corners, offering decent turn-in and plenty of grip, but it never involves the driver like the BMW, and isn’t as sure-footed as the 4WD Audi.

An output of 182bhp puts the V70 ahead of all its competitors in this test bar the BMW, and as a result it’s a strong performer. Yet while the five-cylinder engine is smooth at a constant throttle, it’s gruff under load and the optional Geartronic automatic transmission is slow to kickdown. What’s more, while the Volvo performed well in our brake tests – stopping from 60mph in 36.4 metres – the pedal is the softest underfoot.

Still, safety is a strong point – you get seven airbags as standard – and the V70 looks good value. Not only is it competitively priced, at £32,095, it also has the longest standard kit tally, which includes electric seats, a powered tailgate, xenon lights and rear parking sensors. The question is whether Volvo has improved the estate formula enough to win this test.

Details

Price: £38,930Model tested: Volvo V70 D5 SE LuxChart position: 3WHY: The new V70 is more luxurious, safer and has a bigger boot than its predecessor

Economy

During our time with the Volvo, we averaged 32.5mpg. The 38.2mpg official figure suggests it should have been more frugal, but the V70 was still better than the A6

Residuals

Values for the V70 have yet to be calculated, but the old car retained 38.7 per cent of its price. However, the latest S80 saloon scores 50.5 per cent, and the estate should be near this figure

Servicing

Dealers haven’t released service prices for the V70 yet, but the old car cost £943 for the first three checks. That’s similar to its rivals, so expect the new car to be little different

Tax

The Volvo’s D5 diesel emits 194g/km of CO2, so is in the 29 per cent bracket – one above the E-Class. However, a lower list price means the V70 is a cheaper company car to run

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