Volvo V70 (2007): unveiled

Published: 02 February 2007

New Volvo V70: the lowdown

Today heralds the launch of a new Volvo of the sort that’s shaped the world’s view of the Swedish company: a large, luxury estate. The new V70 is more practical, roomier and – surprise, surprise – faster than its predecessor. Volvo has attempted to spice up its oh-so-sensible estate by installing the T6 six-cylinder 285bhp 3.0-litre turbo. We reckon it might frighten a few antique dealers; this load-lugger will shuttle from 0-60mph in just 7.2 seconds on its way to 155mph. Although you’d have to ask yourself what sort of country gent is going to drive a big, sensible estate in such hooligan fashion (not to mention pay the resulting fuel bills).

But I've driven the old V70 R... I don't want a fast Volvo estate!

Not everyone wants 295lb ft of twist in their green-welly estate. In fact hardly anyone does. So the bulk of sales will go to the smaller engines: there are two variations on a 2.4-litre diesel; a 2.5-litre turbo petrol; and a naturally aspirated 3.2 six-pot. Later in the year we’ll see a 2.5 capable of running on E85 bioethanol for countries where there’s a refuelling infrastructure. Every engine is available with the six-speed Geatronic auto transmission and manual gearboxes will be offered on the smaller engines. There’s no word yet on prices for the new V70 range.

What about the interior?

Now this is something that Volvo does really well these days – you wouldn’t mistake this for anything but a Volvo, would you? There’s the signature pop-up sat-nav, the big sensible steering wheel, the Ladybird simple graphics – not forgetting, of course, the ‘floating’ centre console with its useless storage cubby behind. That matt-finish wood on the dash is just so Swedish, too, don’t you think? If any car cabin is capable of evoking the ambience of a restful sauna room, it’s the new V70’s. Especially with those temptingly comfy seats. Volvo promises more legroom front and rear, and a novel air purification system is claimed to be so sophisticated that the V70 has been recommended by the Swedish Asthma and Allergy Association. Hmmm. There are more utility features than you’ll find on a Swiss army knife, too. The rear seatback splits 40:20:40 and the boot is 55 litres bigger than before, while a sliding floor in the cargo makes it easier to slide heavy loads in and out.

It’s a Volvo, so I guess the new V70 is safe…

This is more like it. Volvo has tried sporty before (with varying degrees of success), but a Swedish estate simply must be safe. The V70 doesn’t disappoint. There’s a built-in child booster seat with two heights, bigger airbags everywhere and forward-facing radar on top models can spot an impending collision and activate the brakes to minimise the impact. Neat. More amusing is the heartbeat monitor offered in the V70 which allows the owner to check, from 100 metres away, if the alarm has been triggered or there is someone inside. Brilliant. And surely absolutely pointless. When did you last fail to notice an unwelcome visitor in your car before you set off?

Enough about safety, will the new V70 be good to drive?

Well, we won’t know for sure until we drive it this summer. But the initial signs look good: it’s based on the Ford group large-car platform, so it’ll share much of its architecture with the new Mondeo and S-Max. That brings all the usual features like active cruise control, an electronic parking brake and even four-wheel drive on the T6 model to keep all those ponies in check. Presumably on the way to the pony club… Volvo claims the V70 is 15 percent more rigid than today’s car, and it’ll offer the brand’s Four-C electronically controlled damper settings, letting drivers pick between comfort, sport and auto suspension modes. We just hope it’s better than the ones we’ve tested in other Volvos.

The verdict

This is – first and foremost – a family estate car and, with the boot capacity and passenger space and safety improved, it’ll surely appeal to core Volvo buyers. The fact that the new V70 is likely to be a sharper drive - and has racier versions available from the off – should only broaden its appeal. Whether they’ll like the new look is a question of personal preference, but the new V70 will probably continue to outsell the German premium estate crowd. Sales start in September and we’ll know more about prices in early June.

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