Car Test   R0359
October 2003
First Drive Volvo V70
Printer Friendly Page Featured model: 2.0T S
Think big estate cars, think Volvo. Nothing new in that, of course Ė ask countless country folk and antiques dealers who have bought them for decades. In fact, the V70 represents a high proportion of the companyís business worldwide.
   It shares many of its underpinnings with the S80 saloon, and its wide range of engines is familiar, too Ė at least most of them are. The turbocharged 2.0T is a relative newcomer that weíve sampled in the sportier S60, but how does it acquit itself in the big estate?
   In a word, admirably. Though producing only 10bhp more than the 170bhp 2.4-litre engine, it develops greater torque at considerably lower revs. From 2800rpm, this creamy smooth five-cylinder is pulling in real earnest to give spirited acceleration that tops out at a claimed 137mph. Consequently, this staid-looking load carrier is more entertaining to drive than it might appear, especially as the gearchange is a pleasure to use. Itís a super engine thatís not only affable at low revs, but will also spin keenly to 6000rpm with a glorious distinctive howl from underbonnet. Such is its torquey nature, however, that you wonít need to resort to this extreme; itís also a quiet cruiser on main roads and motorways.
   Under these conditions the car bowls along with well-cushioned comfort. Our poor surfaces, progress can be fidgety, but the suspension manages to remove much of the sting from sharp-edged road faults. The steering is as responsive and nicely weighted as ever, and, if need be, the car will handle with a competence that belies its bulk. This is partly due to the tyres that take a tight hold of the tarmac and the stability and traction controls waiting in the wings. Most people, however, will probably prefer the V70's stable, steady-as-you-go nature. Volvo brakes used to feel overservoed at low speeds, but these had a Ďjust rightí feel.
   Itís very comfortable at the reach-and-rake-adjustable wheel, thanks to a big seat that has numerous (manual) settings. Sensible switches, clear dials and excellent all-round vision also add to the driverís sense of well-being. So, too, does the climate control. This has side-to-side temperature settings up front, as well as centre-pillar vents that complement the rear floor outlets.
   The back seats are as welcoming and comfortable as they look, with two-positioned, supportive backrests and generous thigh support for the longer legged. Thereís plenty of room in all directions within the carefully crafted and safety conscious interior, but itís a pity that the big front head restraints mar forward vision so much.
   The meticulously carpeted cargo area is a sensible, regular shape and doubles in volume when the 60/40 seat cushions (with head restraints in situ) are folded Ė or removed. The front passengerís seatback can be folded flat, too, for ever longer loads. However, when all the seats are occupied, luggage space isnít as great as you might think, because the load area is relatively shallow, especially when the security cover is in use.
  considering size, price and rivals
Overtaking Ability
Fuel Economy
Safety Euro NCAP
Security, theft of
theft from
  • 'pick your own' engine, trim and equipment
  • rear head restraints flip forward for better vision
  • rear grocery bag hooks and stowage net
  • two-position rear seat backrest
  • neat child seat booster cushions in back seat (optional)
  • front door check-links not strong enough
  • cheap load cover awkward to locate in rear notches
  • front head restraints restrict rear occupants' view
  • rear sills not fully protected from scuffing
  • windscreen shadeband makes sky appear gloomy
There are plenty of contenders in the top estate car stakes and many of them are a lot newer than the V70. But, although itís no spring chicken, the Volvo can still teach most of them a thing or two about comfort, build quality, choice of engines and safety features. This complete and accomplished all-rounder is still one of the best big estates in the business.

engine 1984cc, 5 cylinder petrol; 180bhp at 5300rpm, 177lb ft at 2200rpm; belt-driven double overhead camshafts, 20 valves. 70-litre fuel tank
drive 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive with stability and traction controls. 24.8mph/1000rpm in 5th
suspension front: independent coil spring/damper struts, lower arms, anti-roll bar
rear: independent multi-link, coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar. Load-compensating suspension (optional)
wheels/tyres 6.5in alloy with 205/55R16W tyres (Pirelli P6000 on test car); temporary use (steel) spare
brakes ventilated discs front, solid discs rear with standard ABS and electronic brake force distribution
0-62mph* 9.1sec
official mpg~ 21.9/38.7/30.1
maximum speed 137mph
AA mpg range 19-36
AA typical mpg 28miles
CO2 emissions 223g/km
* maker's figures  ~ urban/extra urban/combined

size and type large, premium-priced estate car   trim levels S, SE
engines petrol: 5 cylinder/2.0 litre T/180bhp, 5/2.4/140, 5/2.4/170, 5/2.5T/210, 5/2.3T/250
diesel: 5/2.4/163
bi-fuel: LPG and CNG 5/2.4/140
  drive front-wheel drive, 5-speed manual (D5#AWD 6-speed); 5-speed automatic or 5-speed Geartronic optional on certain models
notable features available daytime running lights, 'home-safe' and approach lighting, grocery bag holder, waste bin, B-pillar vents, forward-folding passenger's seat backrest, laminated side windows, integrated child booster cushions, folding rear table with drinks holders, rear-facing seats in load area

  in centimetres (5-door estate car)
  length 471
  width - including mirrors 205
    - mirrors folded 184
  height (with roof bars) 147
  load sill height (inside/outside) 0/61
  turns lock-to-lock 3.0
  turning circle (metres) 11.7
  easy to park/garage?
  front - legroom 91-112
    - headroom 94-102ß
  rear - typical legroom 104
    - typical kneeroom 77
    - headroom 96
    - hiproom 141
  load area(all seats in use)
  load space
(litres/cu ft)
  load length 99-169#
  load length to facia 277
  load width 113-137
  load height (to blind/top of aperture) 40/76
ß no sunroof  # rear seat folded
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