From £25,590
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.

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 V70 is one of a raft of 2012 model-year Volvos that will be in the showrooms very shortly. Inside, the V70 and S80 are now available with an upgraded infotainment system called Senus. The screen now sits on top of the dashboard and offers useful features such as the ability to stream music from your phone via bluetooth. Volvo has also produced it’s own app (Android and iPhone) that allows you to ‘contact’ the car and remotely lock or unlock the doors, for example. City Safety, low-speed auto braking is also now standard.

The new D5 and D3 diesel engines have also been upgraded with a number of tweaks including a new camshaft and conrods, low-friction piston rings, a chain-driven oil pump and a stop-start system on the manual versions. Volvo also claims that the drivability of the D3 has been ‘far improved’ thanks to a fine-tuning of the turbocharger.

What’s it like?

The V70 is the company’s second best-selling model globally (after the XC60) but since it was launched at the beginning of 2007 it has failed to grab the imagination. It delivers Volvo’s traditional big-estate benefits (safety, space, a super-long loadbay and a comfortable and clear driver environment) but, otherwise, it has lacked both character and driver appeal.

This particular V70 provides three big surprises. Firstly, it looks good, especially inside thanks to the extensive polished aluminium trim and shaped leather seats. The newly-fettled D3 motor is also smooth and subtly tuneful, delivering an impressive seam of torque despite the very long gearing. On the motorway, at a steady trot, the engine spins at just 1600rpm, but even from such low revs, the D3 motor pulls away strongly without lag or hesitation. It also has brisk overtaking on tap.

Helping get the best from this impressive engine is the equally impressive shift and clutch action (which I hope makes the translation to right hand drive), both of which are beautifully weighted and very clean-acting. These, combined with the cultured engine, make a compelling proposition.

But the really unexpected step forward comes with the R-Design’s driving dynamics. Volvo calls this a ‘sports chassis’. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s actually just what all mainstream Volvos should be: nicely damped, smooth riding (even on 245/40 tyres and 18in wheels) and just about briskly responsive enough to be satisfying. A quick call directly to the engineers at Volvo HQ revealed that the steering is unchanged, but it gets new springs and dampers, a modified self-levelling system and is 20mm lower at the front and 15mm lower at the rear.

OK, the V70 has not been transformed into a B-road rocket, but I’d bet this chassis is another product of Volvo’s development programme on UK roads.

Should I buy one?

The entry-level four-pot diesel V70 is pedestrian, very dull to drive and dull to look at. It costs £25,995 on the road. This car is swift, stylish, rides and handles briskly. It also gets a very smart leather interior, better fittings and a ‘premium’ sound system which did a conspicuously impressive job of decoding the compressed music on my iPhone. This V70 R-Design costs £30,300 on the road. If you fancy a V70, it’s a no-brainer. If you’ve never considered a V70, this model is genuinely worth a test drive.

Volvo V70 D3 R-Design start/stop

Price: £30,300; Top speed: 134mph; 0-62mph: 9.7sec; Economy: 57.7mpg; Co2: 129g/km; Kerbweight: 1666kg; Engine type: Front, transverse, five-cylinder, 20V turbodiesel, 1984cc; Power: 161bhp @3500rpm; Torque: 295lb ft @2750rpm; Gearbox: Six-speed manual

Join the debate


22 June 2011

That made for quite surprising and pleasant reading. Can't say I'm in the market for a Volvo at the moment, but I hope these changes are a sign of things to come with the rest of Volvos' cars. Good work Volvo.

22 June 2011

Finally, Volvo seem to be getting it right, I love my D5 S80 series 2, apart from a few niggles, ride and handling mostly but also the seats are not a good as previous Volvos, its was also missing that little bit of tech that makes it stand out, these revisions seem to have put all that right, I hope they carry on the good work across to the S80.

22 June 2011

Seems to be the most desirable Volvo since the original 850 T5.

I find it curious though that they call this set up "Sports", despite being anything but. It did cross my mind that this may be down to Volvo's marketing department realising that it would sell more in the UK with the badge than without.



It's all about the twisties........

22 June 2011

Well done Volvo. Currently driving a Volvo S40 1.8 - lovely to drive and feels like it will go on forever. Not a volvo employee, but VOLVO FOR LIFE!

22 June 2011

I must be suffering a mid-life crisis, I'm lusting after a Volvo Estate.



22 June 2011

Looking awfully dated now

22 June 2011

[quote ewallace1]Looking awfully dated now[/quote] So does the Lamborghini Espada, but I'd lose a testicle to own one.



23 June 2011

[quote Leslie Brook] So does the Lamborghini Espada, but I'd lose a testicle to own one.[/quote]

But you're not going to say that about the Volvo, are you?

23 June 2011

I have a soft spot for Volvo having had enjoyed owning one a few years back. Not quite their demographic but I was 26 and had a Volvo estate and a labrador! It was obscenely quick though!!

I'm glad they seem to be making better use of the raw materials provided to them by Ford. They could always do interiors and engines, now they can seemingly add some chassis sophistication.

23 June 2011

[quote March1]But you're not going to say that about the Volvo, are you?[/quote] No, for the Volvo I'd draw the line at a vasectomy.




Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka
  •  Maserati Ghibli Diesel
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    Maserati releases another range of updates for its range best seller, the Ghibli. We've driven the diesel version, but there's little improvement on before
  • Tipo Front
    First Drive
    21 September 2016
    New Fiat Tipo offers impressive space and practicality for a reasonable price. We try the 1.6 diesel on the demanding roads of North Wales
  • Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150
    First Drive
    20 September 2016
    The Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150 makes perfect sense: it's spacious, tidy to drive for an SUV and cheap to run