Volvo V70 2.0D SE

Diesel rules in the sales charts – and this is Volvo’s latest attempt to cash in.

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The new diesel engine broadens the big estate’s appeal. Combining good fuel economy and decent performance with excellent comfort, the Volvo is an attractive proposition for company car buyers. Even though the chassis and driving experience are not class leading, better fuel economy than the bigger diesel options makes the new 2.0-litre unit the pick of the V70 range.

The firm is a master when it comes to building estate cars, and its new entry-level V70 oil-burner is designed to make the model even more desirable to high-mileage company drivers.

Combined fuel economy of up to 47.9mpg will also make the new 2.0-litre engine popular with private buyers. So has this new Volvo got what it takes to rival established favourites such as the Volkswagen Passat and Honda Accord Tourer?

The 134bhp unit is the smallest diesel in the Swedish wagon’s line-up, but it’s powerful and responsive. A smooth-shifting six-speed manual gearbox helps to make the most of its healthy 320Nm torque output, and the big estate feels faster than Volvo’s figures suggest. The firm claims the 0-62mph sprint takes 11.4 seconds, but the load-lugger is never short of pace on the road.

Refinement is also impressive, as the engine is hushed, but there’s still plenty of performance in reserve at motorway speeds. With a particulate filter fitted as standard, the 2.0-litre unit has CO2 emissions of 157g/km, placing it in the 21 per cent company car tax bracket. For private buyers, the entry-level diesel puts the V70 in road tax Band D, which equates to an annual bill of £145.

Volvo has never had a reputation for making great drivers’ cars, and the latest V70 isn’t going to change that. There’s excessive body roll in corners, and this will quickly dampen your enthusiasm for working the smooth powerplant hard.

However, the suspension does at least provide a soft ride, while the seats are among the most comfor­table in the business and contribute to the estate’s excellent long-distance credentials. Numb steering and plain looks require more work, though.

Traditional Volvo buyers are interested in more practical concerns, and there’s mixed news here, too. The 575-litre boot is respectable enough in the space stakes, but drop the rear seats and you only get 1,600 litres to play with. That’s less than in a Ford Mondeo (1,733 litres) or Volkswagen Passat (1,641 litres).

However, the load bay has some neat touches, including a pair of sliding rails to help secure loads and a flip-up divider to stop smaller items from sliding around.

The rest of the cabin is as you would expect from the company. It is attractively styled and the simple layout means that all of the major controls are easy to locate and make use of. Up front, the centre console is finished with aluminium trim, while hi-tech goodies include cruise and climate control.

Safety kit is typically comprehensive, too. Volvo’s Dynamic Sta­bility and Traction Control system comes as standard, along with front, side and curtain airbags, plus integrated booster cushions for children sitting in the back. From the outside, the V70’s looks are largely unchanged from its predecessor. The boxy lines and distinctive rear light clusters won’t win any beauty contests, but at the same time there’s nothing to upset Volvo loyalists.

Pricing, however, is a concern. Even with its impressive new diesel powerplant, the V70 costs £25,495. That’s fine when judged against models from prestige German rivals, but when you compare the Volvo to more spacious mainstream offerings, the V70 simply doesn’t do enough to attract newcomers to the brand.

Rival: Honda Accord Tourer
A new Accord goes on sale later this year, with a great looks and an excellent new diesel engine. Solid build, an improved cabin and good reliability count in its favour, and it’s likely to undercut the V70 on price.

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