Volvo has joined the ranks of manufacturers with the V70 replacing big-capacity petrol engines with smaller ones of equal power output and improved economy. The entry-level petrol T4 engine (unrelated to Volvo’s previous 1.6 petrol engine) is a revised, 178bhp version of Ford's Ecoboost unit.

This engine revs smoothly and freely, responds well even at higher speeds and, most important, is very refined when kept in the usefully broad powerband. The six-speed manual gearbox is also satisfyingly precise to use and works extremely well with this T4 motor.

Richard Bremner Autocar

Richard Bremner

Senior contributing editor
V70 lacks the finesse of Ford’s S-Max which employs broadly the same chassis

On the diesel front, the range starts with a 1.6-litre four-pot that also propels heaps of Peugeots, Fords and the Mini. Many have sniggered at the prospect of a modest 1.6-litre turbodiesel pulling along this car, which is equipped with Volvo’s eco-special DRIVe badge. 

As you might expect, this is not a fast car, nor even a brisk one, but it does not feel slow. Pack it floor to ceiling for a holiday and you’ll probably have to work at it, but no more than you would have done for an average petrol-powered estate of a decade or so ago.

Other petrols include a 240bhp 2.0-litre four-pot for the T5 and a potent 300bhp six-cylinder unit for the range-topping T6. Elsewhere in the diesel line-up, there’s a 161bhp 2.0-litre five-pot for the D3 and a 2.4-litre five-cylinder unit with 212bhp in the D5.

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Of most interest here is the big D5. It will sprint to 60mph in a brisk 8.9sec, and the 5.6sec it needs to shift from 30mph to 50mph in fourth is a solid effort. Unladen, this car feels surprisingly zestful for one so big.

But it also sounds unmistakably like an oil-burner. The growl, clatter and hum might be subdued but they’re there, leaving this engine a long way behind the refinement of a BMW diesel.

The D3 model is certainly worth consideration if the extra performance of the D5 isn't required. It's smooth and strong, even from low revs, while the five-cylinder layout lends it a distinctive soundtrack. A clutch and gearbox of ideal weighting complete a highly agreeable mechanical package. 

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