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Volvo V70 D5 SE Lux Geartronic

Click to view picture gallery“Eight out of ten dogs prefer Volvo
  estates! Hardly surprising as they
  easy to jump in and out of, have bags
  of room and when you
re travelling
  in one you always have a strong
  sense of security

VOLVO'S EVERGREEN ESTATE models have been around for a long time and every year they just keep getting better. What you might not expect is how much driving satisfaction this current 2012 model year V70 estate serves up (just don't spread it about though or everyone will be driving them).

It's also a pretty good-looker and refreshingly different to any of the predominantly German competition.

Putting one on your drive won't necessarily break the bank, with entry-level DRIVe ES models starting at 26,245. The line-up takes in 34 variations, topping out with the 40,335 T6 AWD SE Lux Geartronic. Tested here is the D5 SE Lux Geartronic, which costs 36,235.

“Forget that old chestnut
about the average
Volvo owner having 2.4
children and a Golden
Labrador — the only 2.4
you’ll find in the V70
is the 2.4-litre turbodiesel
under the bonnet.
And with 212bhp, it’s got
all the oomph you’LL
need to move a family
smartly and quickly
Forget that old chestnut about the average Volvo owner having 2.4 children and a Golden Labrador; the only 2.4 you'll find in the V70 is the 2.4-litre turbodiesel under the bonnet. And with 212bhp and 324lb ft of torque between 1,500 and 3,000rpm, the five-cylinder unit has got all the oomph you'll need to move a family (and dog) smartly and quickly.

And, despite a 137mph top speed and pokey 0-62mph time of 8.6 seconds, journeys won't cost the earth — the official combined fuel consumption is 45.6mpg. And although a busy week behind the wheel saw an average of 37mpg, less-pressed owners should be able to better that.

Power is put down through the front wheels via a six-speed automatic Geartronic transmission; this also offers a 'means business' Sport mode alongside a manual mode that's handy if you're towing or just want some reassuring engine braking.

And whether it's just you or the whole family in the car, the V70 offers a well-stocked menu of creature comforts. Our test car was trimmed in smart creamy-white leather with contrasting matt wood used on the fascia, the curved door inserts and on the trademark 'floating' centre stack. There's masses of space in all directions (most importantly for head and legroom) both in the front and the back. The seats are big and accommodating with an arm-chair-like feel, and provide genuine comfort. They're nicely heated, too. Generous glazing areas and a one-shot tilt 'n' slide glass sunroof create a light and airy cabin.

Other cabin equipment includes electronic climate control with an air quality system, a persuasive multimedia hi-fi (single CD/DVD/radio, 4 x 40W amplifier, 8 speakers, MP3/WMA-compatible, USB and Aux, remote control), voice activated SatNav, Bluetooth hands-free, iPod compatibility, cruise control, power-adjustable heated door mirrors with powerfold (on demand and on locking) and built-in puddle lights, 8-way electrically-adjustable drover's seat, power-operated tailgate, rear Park Assist, Driver's Information Centre, four auto one-shot electric windows, auto-dim rear-view mirror, rear headrests that drop down at the touch of a switch on the fascia, a tinted windscreen, etc, etc.

Safety-wise, the spec is all you'd expect of a Volvo — starting with a full set of airbags (dual stage driver and front passenger, dual chamber side impact, and inflatable curtains) and Dynamic Stability and Traction Control.

“There’s room for
everybody’s luggage in
the wide and well-shaped
575-litre boot.
Access is straightforward
thanks to a high-
opening, head-friendly
tailgate — which can be
opened and closed
at the press of a button.
No more dirty hands!
Other safety features include WHIPS (Volvo's Whiplash Protection System), swivelling headlights for the best visibility during night-time driving on curving and twisting roads, daytime running lights, adaptive brake lights, heated washer nozzles, auto wipers, and a 'smart' power parking brake that assists the driver when starting on an uphill slope.

The designated family driver will appreciate not just the comfort and equipment but also the clearly marked switchgear, the classy chronograph dials and the SatNav's seven-inch colour screen, set in the upper part of the centre stack where it's easy to take in at a glance.

All the multimedia functions (navigation, 'phone, CD/DVD player) can be controlled via remote buttons on the multifunction steering wheel.

The driver can select from three levels of power assistance for the steering — we stuck with medium, which was perfectly okay all of the time. Another nice touch is being able to choose between the much-preferred 'normal' indicators (as in stay on until you, the driver, choose to turn them off) and the automatic three-flash setting — on today's busy roads, and particularly on motorways, three flashes is just not enough to be sure other drivers have seen them.

Keyless entry and start is another time-saving feature that makes life easier for those with busy lives. Also liked will be the elasticated pouch pockets along the front of both front seats and the 'secret' non-slip tray behind the centre stack. And it's also good to have big vanity mirrors, each with two dedicated lights. Nice, too, is the abundance of practical storage bins and pockets.

The driver also enjoys a powered seat with a three-settings memory function (really useful in families with more than one driver) with plenty of height and reach adjustment for the smart-looking multifunction steering wheel (notable for its standout stylised 'H'-shape Silk Metal spokes), and height-adjustable seatbelts. Plus there's plenty of foot, shin and knee room and a rest for your left foot. Setting a perfect driving position is not a problem.

Big doors ensure easy access and four adults will travel far in the V70 with no complaints — a fifth, occupying the rear-centre position, won't suffer any hardship but when it comes to grown-ups four is always best (a youngster or teenager will be fine in the middle-rear position). Two adults travelling in the back can share the wide armrest. For smaller passengers, there are two-step booster cushions built into each outer rear seat — these allow children of different sizes to sit sufficiently high to see out through the windows while at the same time providing them with the most effective protection.

“And to keep pooch off
the cream leather in
the main cabin,
a tailored dog guard
(in its own easy-loading
cassette) can be
extended to the roof in
And being an estate there's room for everybody's luggage in the wide and well-shaped 575-litre boot. Access is easy thanks to a high-opening, head-friendly tailgate — which can be opened and closed at the press of a button. No more dirty hands!

And when you need a cavernous loadbay for moving large, heavy items, just drop the 40:20:40 split-fold rear seats and you'll have a very usable, perfectly flat load area of 1,600 litres.

The easy-to-use flip-up boot divider (with its expanding strap for holding bottles) is a boon for managing shopping, and there are aluminium cargo rails with attachments and high-level anchor points to make easy work of securing your cargo. Grocery bag holders help with transporting the weekly family shop.

There's also the option of folding down the centre backrest section to accommodate large 'load-thru' items; for longer items the front passenger seat forward folds.

Another plus is the low sill which, as well as easy loading, is ideal for sitting on whilst removing your muddy welly boots after a walk through the woods with your best (four-legged) friend. And, to keep pooch out of the cream leather main cabin, a tailored dog guard (in its own easy-loading cassette) can be extended to the roof in seconds.

A space-saver spare wheel lives under the boot floor. Above it is a full-size secondary luggage compartment divided into seven 3-inch deep sections of varying sizes. Very useful — these latest generation V70s certainly have all the bases covered.

On the move the V70 rides smoothly — around the houses and in congested town centres it cuts through busy traffic serenely, helped by its good all-round visibility and the low-down torque generated by its sequential twin turbochargers. Peak torque is on hand from 1,500rpm providing plenty of low-down power. On faster A-roads it's also surprisingly nimble — particularly for its size — with reassuring roadholding and good road manners even in bad weather conditions. Motorways are consumed with ease.

“Apart from being
designed to safely
withstand a
collision with a troll,
the V70 is equipped to
avoid them in the first
place with its
standard-fit City Safety
Due to good rearward visibility, parking aids aren't essential but they're fitted and they do made light work of reversing the V70's 4.8-metre body back into one of the ever-shrinking supermarket bays. The good steering lock also makes the V70 pleasantly manoeuvrable in car parks.

Apart from being designed to safely withstand a collision with a troll (real trolls, according to the recent Troll Hunter movie, can be fifty feet tall and as unyielding as a mountain), the V70 is equipped to avoid them in the first place with its standard-fit City Safety technology.

At speeds below 18mph, City Safety monitors the traffic ahead with the help of a laser sensor fitted in the upper windscreen. The car automatically brakes if the driver does not respond in time when the car in front slows down or stops — or if the driver is driving too fast towards a stationary object.

If the relative speed difference between the two vehicles is less than 9mph, the collision can be entirely avoided; and even if the speed difference is between 9-18mph and a collision cannot be avoided, at least the impact speed will be reduced and damage minimised.

Other driver aids include Volvo's blind spot warning and lane departure warning systems — the Lane Departure Warning audibly warns the driver if the car crosses one of the road markings without an obvious reason, such as use of the indicator. Cruise Control is standard but the optional Adaptive Cruise Control really does help takes the stress out of long motorway journeys and family holiday trips.

This latest V70 is about as good as it gets for transporting families in comfort and safety. Good looks and first rate build quality make it a pleasure to own and it's also a pleasure to drive whether it's carrying all of your tribe, the domesticated wolf or you're travelling solo. An easy purchase decision to make. — MotorBar

Volvo V70 SE Lux Geartronic | 36,235
Maximum speed: 137mph | 0-62mph: 8.6 seconds | Overall test MPG: 37mpg
Power: 212bhp | Torque: 324lb ft | CO2 164g/km