Small engine pulls large estate along with reasonable pace

What is it?

This is the Volvo V70 Drive SE, the eco-friendly version of the company’s biggest estate.

Many have sniggered at the prospect of a modest 1.6-litre turbodiesel pulling this car along, and we’re here to find out if that’s fair. This engine, the PSA-BMW four-pot that propels heaps of Peugeots, Fords and the Mini, conjures 177lb ft of torque at 1750rpm.

The 1.6 motor’s lower weight has helped Volvo’s engineers in their quest to make this package work, but on the other hand they have also saddled it with relatively long-legged gearing in third, fourth and fifth, giving the diesel more to do.

The economy figures are also helped by suspension that’s lowered by 20mm, a part-screened radiator grille, low-resistance tyres, modified injectors and engine management, and electric rather than hydraulic steering assistance. You also get a gearshift indicator.

What’s it like?

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. So spoiled are we by the forest-felling torque of modern diesels that we expect effortlessness from almost every car. This V70 isn’t that, but it’s entirely acceptable.

The result is an impressive 129g/km and 57.5mpg combined, which is pretty good for a beast this big, especially as it attracts benefit-in-kind of 18 per cent to the 2.0D’s 22 per cent.

Caravanners should note, however, that the V70’s towing weight drops by 300kg with this engine.

These gains have come at a cost, though; the ride quality has turned distinctly firm and clattery over bumps, there's occasionally excessive road noise and there's a bit of over-run growl from the motor.

Should I buy one?

If it’s a commodious, safe and economical pack horse that you need, the V70 DRIVe is worth a thought.

Join the debate

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animalhacker 26 April 2014

I own the Volvo v70D DRIVe SE

I own the Volvo v70D DRIVe SE which I use for commuting, I get 57.9 mpg around town and 63 mpg on a run at 70 mph. Its certainly not got the torque of my previous D5 but its half the insurance cost and £30 a year to tax.
powelly 5 May 2010

Re: Volvo V70 1.6D DRIVe SE

Which marketing genius came up with DRIVe? It always reads as "drivel" to me...

daveth1957 13 April 2010

Re: Volvo V70 1.6D DRIVe SE

ok so I did speed a bit but just to see how well its runs.

Now had the car for 5 months and covered 6,000 miles, very happy with it. only slight down side is mid range overtaking capability, need to plan it a bit and be in the right gear to ensure a save overtake.

Very relaxed driving (seats like arm chairs) would get another in a heartbeat. cruise control is very acurate and responsive, very quite and covers distances without tiring me, my last motor was a Jag X type with sports seats, numb bum afetr 90 miles so this V70 is a fantastic long distance cruiser.