Volvo’s facelift of the V70 is not striking. There are new bumpers front and back and ‘new-look’ clear headlights and tail lights. The car’s smoother, more bulbous snout (called ‘soft nose’) has a new chrome grille that looks oddly inappropriate: as if Volvo was on the verge of a big stylistic change and then bottled out.
Inside, the centre console has been re-designed with a very slick sliding cover for the cubby hole-cum-cupholders. There have also been minor tweaks to the audio kit and, in this test car, fresh and very stylish aluminium trim. The ‘new generation’ front seats are as exceptionally comfortable as ever, but the pillowy cream hide in the test car looked more World of Leather than Habitat.
The new 260bhp T5 motor has had a significant workout. It’s been fitted with continuously variable valve timing (on both inlet and exhaust cams) and the capacity is up from 2.3 to 2.4 litres. The upshot is a punchy torque delivery, which now offers 258lb ft from just 2100rpm. With the six-speed manual ’box (clean-shifting, with a fine clutch action), the T5 can hit 60mph in just 6.8 seconds and offer a combined mpg of 29.7.
Who can resist the soul of the ultra-smooth, warbling five-cylinder engine? It’s one of the best aspects of Volvo ownership: easily eager enough for swiftish motoring but with noticeably deep lungs and broad shoulders. And although this manual transmission is good, I’d recommend the self-shifter. It more closely matches the V70’s character.
There’s no point pretending that the V70 will ever be anything but a very luxurious multi-purpose wagon. So there’s no point – aesthetics aside – in ordering the Sports Pack. The bigger 18in wheels spoil what should be a loping ride and the (also optional) Four-C adaptive damping, while clever, is another unnecessary complication. This car is a sumptuously finished, effortless cruiser (and one capable of switching to capacious carry-all in two clicks of a seat back), not a tool for attacking bends.
There’s a more pressing reason not to entertain the Sports Pack, too. The ‘speed-dependent’ steering is, at town speeds, comically, ridiculously overlight and detached. Steering feel has always been a weakness of the V70, but this one was absurd. But it’s a very, very agreeable car, especially if you accept it as a glorious cruiser and not a pretend BMW 5-series.