Far from rapid, but it's still spacious, economical and cheaper than a 5-series

What is it?

Volvo has broadened the appeal of the V70 with the introduction of new four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines. Of these, the latter is likely to win more attention among the brand’s sensible customer base. It uses the familiar PSA-developed 2.0-litre diesel engine, meaning 136bhp, 236 lb/ft of torque and the promise of 47.9mpg.

That’s a considerable improvement in economy over the existing five-cylinder diesel engines, but the new motor has its work cut out lugging the big Volvo’s 1700kg kerbweight about.

What’s it like?

As you might expect, it’s far from rapid. The new engine is a smooth spinner, but it has to be worked hard to deliver much in the way of meaningful acceleration. Volvo’s official 11.4sec 0-62mph time only tells part of the story here – in-gear performance is also a measure less vigorous than you would expect from a modern turbo-diesel, meaning that overtaking moves need to be planned well in advance.

The good news is that, once you’ve built up a head of steam, the engine’s stodgy torque curve helps it to hang onto the hard-won momentum and, as always, the V70 is an accomplished motorway cruiser. We couldn’t match the official fuel economy figure, but a genuine 42mpg is still impressive for a car of this size.

The rest of the package continues to impress. Volvo still understands the principles of ergonomic design better than any other manufacturer, and the driving position is supremely comfortable over long journeys. The slick-shifting six-speed manual transmission is easy to use, too – no automatic gearbox is available.

Should I buy one?

The V70 2.0D undercuts cars like the BMW 520d Touring and Audi A6 Avant 2.0 TDI by a useful margin – but it still looks expensive compared to the almost equally capacious VW Passat 2.0 TDI estate, not to mention the excellent new Subaru Legacy 2.0 TD wagon.

Mike Duff

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