Car Test   R0283
  See also R0224  R0067 
November 2002
Brief Test Volvo V70
Printer Friendly Page Featured model: D5 S Automatic
Whatever your choice of engine: petrol, diesel or gas, Volvo can deliver. But while the jury is still out as to the financial and practical benefits of LPG and CNG-powered models, fleet managers, high-mileage company car drivers and contract hire companies continue to give their vote of confidence to diesels. And not least to this D5.
   This is the first diesel car engine that Volvo has designed and produced, and itís made an excellent job of it. The all-alloy, five-cylinder unit uses common-rail fuelling and a high-tech turbocharger, and boasts impressive power and torque figures that exceed even those of its close rivals, the Audi/VW 2.5TDi V6.
   From its muffled rumble on start-up, youíre aware that this V70 isnít petrol powered, and when the engine is pulling hard, a raspy offbeat combustion noise is apparent. Otherwise, itís a quiet performer thatís particularly hushed when cruising at speed.
   It earns further high praise by completely avoiding the unpleasant low-rev vibration and harshness periods that can affect four-cylinder diesels. In this case, though, the optional automatic transmission (£1100 extra) wonít let you experience the manual versionís lovely low-speed lugging power. But thatís OK, because itís an excellent transmission that distinguishes itself with well-timed part-throttle downchanges and shifts that are barely perceptible (theyíre the next best thing to CVT), even though it lacks the sophistication of Volvoís Geartronic system that offers sequential manual shifting.
   So far so good, but if youíre buying this diesel for economy, stick to the manual. While the auto Ďbox only marginally blunts the V70ís acceleration (itís about half a second slower from 30 to 70mph), it puts a 20 per cent dent in the mpg figures. However, itís still reasonable to expect 38mpg on a motorway trip and over 40mpg in gentle touring.
   Itís worth noting, however, that (according to Volvoís figures), while in manual form the diesel manage an 11mpg improvement over the equivalent petrol model, this drops to just 6mpg when theyíre automatics. And with petrol manual versus diesel auto, the saving is just 3mpg.
   The diesel engine adds a not inconsiderable 93kg to the V70ís weight, but does little to compromise its masterful road manners. If anything, itís of benefit in quelling the slightly under-damped feeling weíve previously reported. Then as now the V70 displays a fidgety firmness on broken tarmac, but rides with well composed authority on main roads and motorways. Road noise is well suppressed, too.
   It doesnít handle with the enthusiasm of an S60, but, with traction control on hand, it feels stable and grippy in the turns, with steering thatís fluid and nicely weighted. The turning circles are unimpressive, however. As ever, Volvoís cabin design is clean and functional and everything feels superbly engineered and carefully crafted. There are several option packs to choose from and you can tailor your V70 just the way you want it.
  considering size, price and rivals
Safety Euro NCAP
Security, theft of
theft from
  • big, clear audio buttons and controls
  • easily flipped-down rear head restraints
  • illumination for footwells/ignition key slot
  • selectable automatic air recirculation
  • rear bumper protected from loading scuffs
  • stiff rear backrest release triggers
  • roller blind awkward to latch closed
  • automatic wipers sometimes go ballistic
  • booster cushion seats put pressure on your perineum
  • door pockets not much use
Already justifiably praised for its roomy, club-class interior and cargo-carrying spaciousness, the superbly built V70 now adds to its list of attributes a smooth, quietly-cruising diesel engine. Check engine and transmission permutations and do your sums carefully, though; the saving (particularly with a diesel automatic) may be less than you had anticipated.

engine 2401cc, 5-cylinder turbo-diesel; 163bhp at 4000rpm, 251 lb ft at 1750rpm; belt-/gear-driven double overhead camshafts, 20 valves
transmission 5-speed stepped automatic, front-wheel drive; 29.4mph/1000rpm in 5th, 22.6 in 4th; traction control
suspension front: independent damper/struts, integral coil springs, anti-roll bar
rear: independent multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar
wheels/tyres 7in alloy with 215/55ZR16W tyres (Michelin Pilot HX on test car); temporary-use steel spare
brakes ventilated discs front, solid discs rear with electronic anti-lock and brake force distribution control
CO2 emissions 215g/km
0-62mph* 9.8sec

30-70mph 9.5sec
official mpg 34.9

typical mpg overall 34
* maker's figure

HOW THE V70 D5 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) maximum legroom - front (cm) typical leg/kneeroom - rear (cm) steering turns/circle (m) overall length (cm)
Volvo V70 D5 (auto) 5/2401/163 2380 9.5a auto 34/215 20/24 112 103/79 2.8/12.0 471
Audi A6 2.5TDi Avant (man) 6/2496/150 2120 8.9 12.3/18.3 44/186 19/23 109 103/76 2.8/11.2 480
BMW 530d Touring (auto)+ 6/2926/184 2040 8.2 auto 35.5/221 15/24 116 103/76 3.0/11.0 480
Renault 2.2dCi S'wagon (man) 4/2188/145 2090 10.0 12.8/19.3ß 40/170 12/24.5 110 99/70 3.3/11.0 470
Rover 75 2.0 CDT Tourer (auto) 4/1951/116 2260 14.6 auto 38.5/190 22/27 114 105/80 3.2/11.4 479
VW Passat 2.5TDi Estate (auto) 6/2496/150 2240 9.4 auto 36/219 14/25 110 103/75 2.8/10.9 467
  a approximate-wet weather precluded precise results  ß 30.2 in 6th  + performance figures for saloon
© The Automobile Association Limited 2019