From £25,590
New twin-turbocharged D5 diesel engine brings improvements

Our Verdict

Volvo V70
Longer nose is disguised by heavily chamfered corners. A soft bumper structure protects pedestrian’s legs in a collision.

The Volvo V70 is spacious, but suffers from vague steering and old engines

  • First Drive

    Volvo V70 D5 SE Lux Geartronic first drive review

    Big Volvo estate gets a mild refresh and remains as dependable as ever, although we're not sure this specification is the best in the range
  • First Drive

    Volvo V70 D3 R-Design

    This particular V70 is swift, stylish, rides and handles briskly. New D3 engine has been ‘far improved’ thanks to a fine-tuning of the turbocharger.

What is it?

This is Volvo’s venerable V70 estate, equipped with the firm’s new twin-turbocharged D5 diesel engine. The 2.4-litre unit gets turbochargers of differing size, in a bid to boost low-end response without sacrificing the mid-range urge that comes in handy when towing or carrying a load big enough to fill the V70’s cavernous loadspace.

It also features ceramic glow plugs, which warm up to 1000deg C in a couple of seconds, improving start-ups and efficiency at low revs.

The new unit produces 20bhp more than the old D5, at 202bhp, and 310lb ft of torque. But it’s cleaner too; CO2 emissions on the V70 drop from 178g/km to 169g/km, and claimed fuel economy on the manual model tested here is a respectable 44.1mpg.

The V70 has been given a (very) mild refresh, too; there are tiny revisions to the front grille, and the interior features a little more chrome trim. Our test vehicle was an R Design edition, which brings 18in alloy wheels, silk metal finish on the grille and fog lights, different seats and a sports steering wheel.

What’s it like?

Upon start-up? Well, pretty much like the old unit, really. There’s that characteristic five-pot rumble as the D5 turns over, then it settles down to a smooth (if audible) burble.

On the move, though, things have improved. Those new-spec turbochargers do give the D5 a bit more urgency at lower revs; I’d even go as far as to call the V70 spritely if you give it a prod at around 1500rpm. And that willing nature continues through to around 4000rpm; you can push the engine further round the dial, but it runs out of puff pretty quickly. Still, the claimed 0-60mph time of 7.7sec feels doable (just).

On the motorway the D5 is a refined beast – but then, that was always one of the old unit’s strong points as well. And under hard acceleration it still has a metallic rasp that would grate if you were trying to make decent progress along a B-road.

The V70’s chassis set-up is unaltered, incidentally, so the handling and steering are still uninspiring. The ride can feel choppy on poor surfaces, too.

The manual gearbox of our car was positive enough, if a little notchy. But we’re curious to try the new engine with Volvo’s automatic transmission; the old motor and the ’box arae curiously badly matched in our XC60 long-termer.

Should I buy one?

Tricky one. On the face of it, the V70 remains a left-field choice supported mainly by its considerable load space. But that practicality does have its attractions, particularly when obvious rivals such as the Audi A6 Avant are considerably more expensive. The new D5 and tiny spec changes aren’t enough of a revelation to turn the V70 into a mainstream benchmark – it’ll take a new platform for that – but it does strengthen its hand.

Join the debate

Comments
23

24 July 2009

Ah it seems Autocar have updated the data section, pity you couldn't bring the posts along too. Nevermind.

The V70 is not a bad car, but it seems hard to justify a £30k price tag when many large family estates can be had for nearly half the price and are just as practical.

24 July 2009

Somehow after reading every review lately, I am more and more getting the feeling that Autocar just don't like Volvo Cars.

24 July 2009

[quote Volvophile]Somehow after reading every review lately, I am more and more getting the feeling that Autocar just don't like Volvo Cars.[/quote] Some people just don't know a good thing when they see one!

24 July 2009

I have to disagree with John here where he says it'll take new underpinnings to fix the shortcomings. All it simply needs is for Ford to send some if it's handling engineers to wave their wand over what is essentially a Mondeo chasis. And we all know how wonderful that is don't we.

24 July 2009

Hmmm - If you read the first drive of the facelifted S80 with this engine :

http://www.autocar.co.uk/CarReviews/FirstDrives/Volvo-S80-2.4-D5-(F/Lift)/238812/

It seems that Volvo are most of the way to unlocking the potential of the S80/V70 chassis package. The engine in particular, seems to be better received in the S80 and other reviews have commented on how good it is. Obviously V70s and S80s run different suspension settings anyway, but it would appear that Volvo get nailed for tuning the Volvo to carry big loads capably rather than making a lifestyle estate that's tuned to moisten your underpants on a B road.

As a package, the V70 is very good value (excluding the chunky discount you can get on top of list) - none of the other premium manufacturers will sell you their biggest estates with a brawny 205 ps diesel with 5 or more cylinders for anywhere near the £29k Volvo want for the SE. A 525d SE touring is £33,285

25 July 2009

[quote Chips]None of the other premium manufacturers will sell you their biggest estates with a brawny 205 ps diesel with 5 or more cylinders for anywhere near the £29k Volvo want for the SE.[/quote] Unfortunately several people still don't see Volvo as a premium brand. Even though many have switched from German cars out of choice.

25 July 2009

[quote Robbijay]

[quote Chips]None of the other premium manufacturers will sell you their biggest estates with a brawny 205 ps diesel with 5 or more cylinders for anywhere near the £29k Volvo want for the SE.[/quote] Unfortunately several people still don't see Volvo as a premium brand. Even though many have switched from German cars out of choice.

[/quote]

I would see Volvo as being a rung don the ladder from the "premium brands", along with Saab and probably VW. That doesn't mean that I don't like or wouldn't consider the Volvo but I think that Volvo would struggle to sell many cars if they priced at the same level of the usual German suspects.

25 July 2009

[quote Lee23404]I would see Volvo as being a rung don the ladder from the "premium brands", along with Saab and probably VW. That doesn't mean that I don't like or wouldn't consider the Volvo but I think that Volvo would struggle to sell many cars if they priced at the same level of the usual German suspects.[/quote]

They aren't quite up there with BMW, Mercedes or even Audi yet. But they are making better progress than SAAB at least of reaching the status of the 'premium brands'. Cars like the XC60 and S60 Concept are showing real promise, and I reckon as the years progress Volvo's image will turn full circle.

And by the way. I would regard VW as being premium in the small to family segment, but anything more is stretching their status a bit too far.

25 July 2009

[quote nigzsingh] I have to disagree with John here where he says it'll take new underpinnings to fix the shortcomings. All it simply needs is for Ford to send some if it's handling engineers to wave their wand over what is essentially a Mondeo chasis. And we all know how wonderful that is don't we.

[/quote]

The EUCD chassis where S80,V70,XC60 and XC70 are based, was developed entirely by Volvo. So it is not a Mondeo chassis but a Volvo one used by Ford for its Mondeo. Volvo does not have the same clientelle as Ford nor needs sporty handling cars. Its style is similar to that of Mercedes not BMW. It is obvious that Autocar do not like that. Meanwhile, Volvo is definitely a premium maker that asks the same prices as its competitors but with more power and equipment. There are some entry level models with low stick prices. But a company is premium when it offers unique products through innovations and technology, just like the BLIS and the City Safety systems... Just tell me except for the quattro technology, which is the innovations that Audi offered to the auto industry? Just a badge in recent years through heavy spending?

25 July 2009

[quote tolis]Just tell me except for the quattro technology, which is the innovations that Audi offered to the auto industry? [/quote] Audi didn't even innovate "quattro technology" (basically a fancy name for four wheel drive). They just copied Subaru. And Land Rover. And Jeep. The one thing that Audi did arguably innovate (light weight and aerodynamic efficiency), they threw away years ago, to specialise in bloated, bouncy-riding, understeering, bling-encrusted senior-repmobiles.

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