Will Volvo's latest V70 estate live up to expectations? We find out.
The latest V70 is comfortable and classy, but fans of its predecessor will be disappointed because luggage space is merely average. Solid build quality, first-rate safety features and a broad line-up boost its appeal, but the V70 fails to challenge the class leaders on space. This robs the big Volvo of a key selling point over its more prestigious and dynamically rewarding rivals.
Volvo is famous for its big and comfortable estates... so the all-new V70 has a lot to live up to. It hits UK showrooms next month, and will go head-to-head with rivals from Audi, BMW and Mercedes.
The newcomer has an understated look, and the fresh styling is designed to give the car a more modern feel without offending the firm’s loyal fan base. At the front, the V70 is pure S80 saloon, but its extended roofline and near vertical tailgate set it apart from the four-door model. Unusual rear light clusters provide the estate with a distinctive look at the back, but the result could hardly be described as pretty.
The cabin layout also takes a low-key approach, and there’s further evidence of the fact that the estate shares much with the S80. The high-quality interior is identical to the saloon’s, with a classy dashboard de-sign and some of the most comfortable seats in the business.
There’s plenty of head and legroom in the back seats, but it’s in the load bay where you expect any Volvo estate to score highly. As a result, the modest 540-litre boot capacity is something of a surprise, because when it comes to sheer space, the V70 lags behind the 565-litre Audi A6 Avant and massive 690-litre Mercedes E-Class Estate. There is no shortage of practical touches, though. The rear seats are split 40/20/40 for added versatility and folding them liberates up to 1,600 litres of load space.
However, that’s still less than the Audi and Mercedes at 1,660 and 1,950 litres respectively. To secure small items there’s a handy flip-up floor, which effectively divides the boot in half, and a variety of anchor points and luggage nets.
Our SE Lux test car also features leather upholstery, heated and powered front chairs, 17-inch alloy wheels and a useful powered tailgate. The entire V70 range comes with Volvo’s Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC) as standard.
On the road, the D5 diesel delivers 182bhp, and performance is brisk. However, the 0-60mph sprint time of 8.4 seconds is accompanied by plenty of noise from the vocal five-cylinder powerplant. The unit is better suited to gentle cruising rather than sprinting along straight roads.
When you follow this relaxed approach, the superb seats, quiet cabin and composed ride all come to the fore. However, dive into a corner and the big Volvo isn’t as nimble as its German rivals, and despite having secure handling, the steering is numb and there’s plenty of body roll.
Other engine options include the 161bhp 2.4-litre diesel and a trio of petrols, ranging from the 197bhp 2.5T and 235bhp 3.2-litre units to the 3.0-litre T6, which produces 281bhp.
Entry-level SE models start at £26,495 and selecting SE Lux trim adds £2,750 to the price tag. Go for the SE Sport, which includes Volvo’s Four-C active chassis control system, and the difference over the SE is £2,850. Whichever model you choose, you will get class-leading safety and a choice of optional equipment packages which provide everything from integrated child booster seats to sat-nav. Just don’t expect the boot to swallow any antique wardrobes!
Rival: Saab 9-5 Sportwagon Compared to the fresh-faced Volvo, the Saab is long in the tooth. And as with its Swedish compatriot, the 9-5 struggles to compete with its established German rivals. Yet the 9-5 is stylish, has a decent diesel engine and undercuts the competition on price. However, its small boot and so-so dynamics let the side down.