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.