Car Test   R0224
  See also R0067 
March 2002
  Volvo V70
Printer Friendly Page Featured model 2.4 Bi-fuel SE
VOLVO IS NOW FIRMLY ESTABLISHED AS A leading light in Ford’s Premier Auto Group (PAG), rubbing shoulders with such automotive luminaries as Jaguar, Aston Martin, and Range Rover. The Swedish maker has also transformed its line-up over the past decade or so, swapping dull but dependable workhorses for cars which retain a full measure of sensible Swedish safety, but which now offer great driving appeal as well.
   Volvo’s laudable line on safety is matched by a fine record on environmental issues, too. It’s currently one of only a handful of makers to offer dual-fuel models, powered by greener, alternative fuel technology.
   Volvo offers bi-fuel versions of most of its models, with both LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) and CNG (compressed natural gas) versions available on all except the S40 and V40. They’re proper, factory-built versions, too, (not converted later) with the gas tank located safely under the floor, to retain full load space.
   There are a few drawbacks, though. Apart from a near-£2000 premium for this LPG V70 over its petrol-only equivalent, (although currently some two-thirds of this can be claimed back under the Government's Powershift grant scheme), the LPG V70 loses both 40 litres-worth of its original petrol tank capacity and a trip computer. It also resorts to a “get-you-home”, aerosol fix for punctures,too, in place of the standard model’s space-saver spare.
   Like most dual-fuel cars, the V70 starts up on petrol, but switches almost imperceptibly to LPG (if selected) within a quarter of a mile or so. Thereafter, it behaves exactly the same as a regular petrol V70, without any hint of reduced performance, driveability or smoothness – even against a stopwatch. Just as well, though, as the V70’s 140bhp isn't exactly a surfeit to propel the solid, superbly-built Swede. Tall gearing further dents its vigour, but on the plus side, the lanky stride aids relaxed, effortless cruising.
   In the UK LPG costs about half that of 95 unleaded petrol (at the time of writing) with availability (far better than CNG) now significantly improved compared with a year or two ago. So, unless you live in a remote area, you shouldn’t have to travel too far in search of it.
   Fuel consumption is 20-25 per cent higher when running on gas, due to LPG’s lower energy content. So although LPG is roughly half the price of petrol, you won’t travel as far on it. This is just part of the overall arithmetic that needs to be done up front when contemplating the V70 Bi-fuel purely on money-saving grounds. Over and above the existing appeal of driving a V70, however, using half-price fuel, as well as doing your little bit for the environment could be the icing on the cake.
  
  
AT A GLANCE
  considering size, price and rivals
Controls/displays
Handling/steering
Comfort
Overtaking Ability
Fuel Economy
Space/practicality
Safety Euro NCAP  not available
Security, theft of
theft from
LIKES ...
  • half price fuel; fillers share same flap
  • versatile (if cumbersome) seat folding
  • built-in booster cushions (Family pack)
  • grocery bag holder at rear of load bay
and GRIPES
  • Bi-fuel's loss of spare wheel, 40 litre petrol capacity and trip computer
  • shallow load height under load cover
  • huge options list bumps up the price
VERDICT
We’ve already sung the V70’s praises in earlier reports; the Bi-fuel does little to dent that view. It's a desirable estate that blends driving pleasure, grandeur, down-to-earth practicality and sure-fire safety in equal measures. Bear in mind though, that the Bi-fuel sums make significantly more sense for higher-mileage users.


SPECIFICATION
engine 2435cc, 5-cylinder petrol; 140bhp at 5100rpm, 158 lb ft at 4500rpm; belt-driven twin overhead camshafts, 20 valves. Bi-fuel: petrol/LPG   transmission 5-speed manual; front-wheel drive; 25.9mph/1000rpm in 5th, 20.9 in 4th(on 225/45R17 91Y tyres)
suspension front: independent damper/struts, integral coil springs, anti-roll bar. Rear: independent multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar   steering hydraulic power assistance; 2.8 turns lock-to-lock; 12.3m diameter turning circle between kerbs (16.0m for one turn of the wheel)
brakes ventilated discs front, solid discs rear with standard anti-lock and electronic brake force distribution control   wheels/tyres 17in alloy with 225/45R17 91Y tyres on SE (Pirelli P6000 on test car); (15in alloy + 195/65R15 tyres - 2.4; 16in alloy + 205/55R16 91W - 2.4 S); Tyre weld aerosol in lieu of space-saver spare on Bi-fuel models

THE V70 RANGE
size and type upper-medium (premium-priced) estate car   trim levels Torslanda (base), S and SE
engines petrol: 5 cyl/2.4litre/140, 170, 200 and 250bhp; plus LPG/CNG (140bhp). diesel: 5/2.4/163bhp D5 turbo-diesel   drive front-wheel drive, 5-speed manual (5-speed automatic option)


HOW THE VOLVO V70 BI-FUEL COMPARES engine (cyl/cc/bhp) revs at 70mph (rpm) 30-70 through gears (sec) 30-70mph in 4th/5th gears (sec) fuel (mpg/CO2) brakes from 50mph (kg/m)A maximum legroom - front (cm) typical leg/kneeroom - rear (cm) steering turns/circle (m) overall length (cm)
V70 2.4/140 Bi-fuel SE 5/2435/140 2700 11.6E 20.7/28.7 29/219G 20/24 116 101/77 2.8/12.3 471
Ford Mondeo 2.0 Estate 4/1999/145 3120 8.6 17.5/26.3 33/194 16/24 111 108/84 2.8/11.3 480
Laguna Sport Tourer 3.0 V6 V6/2946/210 2180 8.8 auto 25/247 16/25 110 99/70 3.3/10.9 470
Rover 75 Tourer 2.0 CDTD 4/1951/116 2450 12.8 16.0/25.3 45/163 22/27 114 105/80 3.2/11.4 479
VW Passat 1.8T Sport EstateT 4/1781/150 3060 8.4 15.0/20.8 34/199 14/26 110 101/74 2.8/11.0 470
Volvo V70 2.4/170 5/2435/170 2900 8.9 17.5/24.3 31/216 23/23 116 101/77 3.0/11.7 471
  D Diesel  A all with ABS  G 21/197 on LPG  T tested as 4-door saloon  E 11.5 on LPG


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CONTROLS AND DISPLAYS
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HANDLING AND STEERING
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Sensible, stylish facia supported by ample range of seat adjustments, but some awkward to get at. Original fuel gauge shows LPG remaining, with "message centre" display reprogrammed to show petrol contents
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Eclipsed by S60 saloon and some rivals, but still a fine, reassuring drive. SE’s squat tyres enhance cornering prowess, giving solid, reassuring feel at the wheel. Mediocre steering lock can prove cumbersome around town
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COMFORT
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Whether in front, rear or load area, stylish, sumptuous surroundings ensure travel in a manner befitting a Ford Premier Auto Group product. The big Pirellis mar ride comfort to a degree, but loads have little affect
*



OVERTAKING ABILITY
Smooth, sonorous operator, but 140bhp feels a shade short in the big, burly V70, especially in higher gears. It’s a smidgen slower on LPG, but not so you’d notice. Oddly, the 170bhp’s lower gearing would suit the Bi-fuel better
  acceleration in seconds on petrol (LPG) through gears* 3rd gear 4th gear 5th gear
  20-40mph 3.5 (3.5) 6.6 (6.7) 10.4 (10.4) 14.3 (14.5)
  30-50mph 4.3 (4.3) 6.5 (6.7) 9.9 (10.1) 13.8 (14.4)
  40-60mph 5.7 (5.6) 6.8 (7.0) 10.0 (10.3) 13.8 (14.6)
  50-70mph 7.3 (7.2) 7.3 (7.2) 10.8 (11.3) 14.9 (15.4)
  30-70mph 11.6 (11.5) 13.8 (13.9) 20.7 (21.4) 28.7 (29.8)
  max speed in each gear (* using 6000rpm for best acceleration)
     gear      1st*      2nd*      3rd*      4th      5th
     speed (mph)      32      57      91      114 (116)      117 (118)


FUEL ECONOMY
Weighty V70 won’t win many prizes for parsimony, but 30mpg is respectable considering car's superb build and grandeur. LPG costs about half as much as petrol, but you’ll use about 25 per cent more of it
    AA test results (mpg)+  
    worst (hard/urban) 20/15  
    best (gentle/rural) 36/26  
*
    overall mpg 29/21  
*
    realistic tank capacity+ 27/45litres  
    realistic tank range 170milesx  
    official figures (mpg)+
    urban 23.0/17.2
    extra urban 38.7/29.1
*
    combined 31.0/23.2
*
    CO2 emissions 219g/km$
    car tax band E
+ petrol/LPG  $ 197g/km for LPG  x 210 on LPG


SAFETY  
Volvo is one of the most ardent pioneers of car safety. So if you do have an accident, there are few better cars to be in. The bespoke, factory-fit gas installation maintains safety to Volvo’s usual high standards
    EURO NCAP RATINGS
 
 
 
    BRAKES
 
  from 50mph (with ABS/EBD)
 
This model has not yet been
tested by EURO NCAP
pedal load     stopping distance
unhurried 10kg     31m
sudden 20kg     24m best stop
+4kg ie 24kg     26m ABS on
 
fade resistance/consistency    
Euro NCAP = European New Car Assessment Programme: independent crash safety tests evaluating protection for occupants and pedestrians in an offset frontal collision, side impacts and pedestrian strike conditions
click here for more NCAP details/test results etc.



SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Quality factory conversion and build preserve full load space, but with a smaller petrol tank and loss of the spare wheel. Big load area, though shallow height under cover. Seat folding versatile, but cumbersome
  in centimetres (5 door estate)
  outside
  length 471
  width - including mirrors 208
    - mirrors folded 186
  height (exc roof bars) 147
  load sill height (inside/outside) 0/62
  steering
  turns lock-to-lock 2.8
  turning circle (metres) 12.3
   
  easy to park/garage?
  inside
  front - legroom 90-116
    - headroom 93-96s
  rear - typical legroom 101
    - typical kneeroom 77
    - headroom 96
    - hiproom 142
  load area (all seats in use)
  litres/cu ft 510/18.0
  load length 101-170w
  load length to facia 281
  load width 113-140
  load height (to cover/to top of aperture) 40 76
s with sunroof  w with rear seats folded down


SECURITY  
Volvo’s load-lugger offers a full set of security features, but inevitably some are reserved for the options list. Global window closing and drive-off self-locking are notable omissions (as safety outweighs convenience) but the rare availability of laminated side glass (even as an option) shows that Volvo tries harder than most.
FEATURES/CONVENIENCE
NCSR RATINGS
central locking  
remote control  
auto window closure  
deadlocks  
alarm (perimeter + interior)   
self-locking (static + drive off)   
two-stage unlocking   
attack-resistant glassg   
AA load area security rating
=standard    =option    =not available
g laminated side glass option on most models
NCSR - "theft of"
 
NCSR - "theft from"
 
NCSR = New Car Security Ratings: a 1 to 5 star system which rates anti-theft protection, both of the car itself and the theft of valuables from within the car
Visit www.thatcham.org for more details
© The Automobile Association Limited 2014