What is it?
The new Volvo V70 – the Swedish firm's big estate car. Which means you'd expect it to be substantial, comfortable, reliable and safe, but also not massively desirable or enjoyable to drive.
But Volvo's not been content to follow the same old path this time. You don’t have to probe far into the press blurb on the new V70 before you begin tripping over words and phrases such as ‘athleticism’ and ‘on-road dynamism’. Volvo is claiming a certain style and sportiness for its new master load-lugger as well as all the usual versatility.
What's it like?
The basic profile of this all-new V70 is immediately familiar. It’s got the same long nose, swept A-pillars and near-vertical rear end of the last V70 – and it’s a shape that has always suited the car well. Volvo’s real achievement is in the way it has updated the car’s styling without over-egging the pudding. The more muscular shoulders, more pronounced grille and more shapely tail-lights succeed in making the car more interesting, but that’s if you care to look; the new V70 doesn’t visually shout for your attention the way a BMW 5-series does. To do so would be very un-Volvo indeed.
The sporty part of the equation is a new chassis that’s 15 per cent more rigid than that of the last V70 and, for the first time in a V70, a twin-turbo six-cylinder petrol engine that channels power to all four wheels. That engine goes in the range-topping T6 model, and produces 281bhp and 295lb ft.
The T6 feels a little shy on power, but it does show big improvements over the old V70R in steering feel and precision, body control and grip. It’s still no sports wagon; no car this size, with such a broad remit to fulfil and a transverse engine mounted ahead of the front wheels, ever could be. But it is more resistant to understeer than most Volvo drivers will be used to, and at speed it is a superbly comfortable, stable and refined machine.
Should I buy one?
On this evidence, then, the V70’s dynamic character hasn’t actually changed very much at all. Volvo is wrong to apply words like ‘athletic’ to this car; entertainment has never been in a big Volvo’s repertoire, and nor should it be.
But that takes nothing away from the appeal of the V70, which is more spacious, more versatile and safer than ever, as well as more brisk and a little more fun to drive.