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Volvo V70 2.0D SE (2008) review

Published:18 August 2008

Volvo V70 2.0D SE (2008) review
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The Volvo V70 is the model that defines the Swedish brand. Volvo built its reputation around both estate cars and building in the highest levels of passenger protection if you were unlucky enough to have an accident. But somewhere along the way these two things got diluted. EuroNCAP meant the likes of Renault, for heavens sake, suddenly claimed the safety high ground, while the Volvo V70 lost its sensible hat in a grasp at fashion.

The current V70, introduced last year, brought more practicality back into the equation to clearly distance itself from the 5 Series Touring (although not the roomier E-Class estate). Yet with an engine range that started at 2.4-litres for the diesel and a 2.5 turbo in the petrol, it increasingly missed the point of these taxing times. Hence two new options for 2008, four-cylinder, two-litre petrol and diesel power.

How did Volvo conjure up these two engines?

They are both from the Ford/PSA warehouse of euro-friendly power plants that already appear in more than a dozen Ford, Peugeot and Citroen models. Not too exciting then, but at this entry point to the V70 range buyers can’t afford to be too choosy. There was a time when you find a sexy six-cylinder engine in a two-litre prestige car but those days have gone. Four cylinders are cheaper to build, punchier to drive and, if they are done well, almost as smooth as a six.

Volvo’s existing 2.4litre five-cylinder diesels, with either 161 or 182bhp, are something else again.  Although further refined for the V70, they remain vocal engines than are starting to show their age. They are the only choice if you want an auto with your diesel V70, but perhaps a four pot may have something to offer after all.

Click 'Next' below to read more of our Volvo V70 2.0D SE first drive

A tonne and three-quarters and a two-litre engine. Are you kidding?

Yes, it does look like a worrying combination. Yet somehow the whole package gels quite nicely. First because this engine is smoother and more refined than the gruff five-cylinder options, which seem less refined in the V70 than in the bigger XC90 SUV. Then there’s the torque. The 2.0D output of 236 lb ft is just 6% less than the 2.4D.

The result is that, despite an uninspiring 134bhp, this V70 drives surprisingly well. Just where you’d thought the weight would be the killer – low-speed acceleration – the engine hunkers down, the turbo does its bit and the Volvo drives smoothly away. Throttle response is excellent just where you need it. OK, fully loaded, you may have to work the gears a bit harder, but you can’t expect everything with an entry-level engine. 

So how much is it going to save me?

If you’d bought a V70 D5 last year you may now wish you had waited. This £25,845 2.0D SE is £1,525 cheaper. Economy, according to the statutory figures, averages 47.9mpg compared with 42.2mpg (though in reality either figure seems a good 5mpg optimistic). Emissions are similarly improved, 157 to 178g/km of CO2.

Distinctions like these have rapidly become of major significance in car buying decisions, hitting your pocket in terms of fuel bills, and company car tax or road fund licence. Private or company car driver, they’ll get you one way or the other. Volvo’s niggling problem is that BMW does all this econmy/CO2 stuff very much better. 53.3mpg and 140g/km C02 is what you’ll get from a 520dSE Touring, plus another 40bhp. But the BMW does cost almost 4k more.  

Click 'Next' below to read more of our Volvo V70 2.0D SE first drive

And the Germans still have they better image

Do they? What really does better the image of a Volvo estate? The Swedish car is an icon built on 40 years of purpose-built station wagons. The competition can only throw in estate car version of their saloon cars. Actually that’s not the complete truth any more. The V70 is identical to the S80 saloon from the B-pillars forward, but it’s still comfortable to think that Volvo might have deigned the wagon first, saloon second, even though that may not be the reality.

There is a host of useful features, like the dog guard that drops down from the roof, 40:20:40 slit-folding rear backrests and child booster seats that lift up from the rear seat cushion.

In other respects the V70 measures up well, too. The seats are extremely comfortable, and the ride is composed if a little firm. Care is needed with the choice of interior colour (the test car’s cream leather and plastic looked tacky) but get it right and it looks good. The trademark flying buttress centre console adds some style and distinction too.

Verdict

What’s good about the V70 is that it so obviously isn’t another aristocratic German estate car. The compromises it invokes are no greater than you’d expect moving from one brand to another, and you can throw into the equation some major positives. Comfort, practicality, safety are virtues of every vehicle in this class, but arguably none significantly betters the Volvo. And though this 2.0D offers less power than any rival, it drives well enough. Add in the price advantage and the V70 2.0D will surely become the best seller in the range.

Specs

Price when new: £25,845
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1997cc, 134bhp@4000rpm, 236lb ft @ 2000rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Performance: 10.9sec 0-60mph, 121mph, 47.9mpg, 157g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1730kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4823/1861/1547

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