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27 August 2014

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Volvo V70 DRIVe 1.6l SE road test report

DRIVe 1.6l SE

Since its launch in 2008 the DRIVe badge from Volvo has been used to denote the marque’s most fuel efficient models. DRIVe was originally launched with C30, S40 and V50 models but Volvo has continued to expand the range, and it has grown to encompass the car maker’s full range of the models. The V70 is Volvo’s largest estate; does the 1.6 litre turbodiesel prove that you can have a green, large estate?

Road Test Reports Says4 star rating
A front-facing image of the Volvo V70

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Performance Performance - 4 stars

Now in its third generation the Volvo V70 estate car is a popular staple of the Swedish manufacturer – in fact you could say its classic Volvo, both in design and implementation. Ask a sample of people to describe a Volvo and the chances are you’ll get something very much like the V70. The car maker over recent years has made big strides in changing people’s perceptions of the brand but they still churn out what remain their bread and butter – quality, safe, well designed and engineered estates and saloons. The DRIVe version of the V70 features a 1.6 litre turbodiesel under the bonnet, and initially it had major alarm bells ringing – how could a car of this size and weight have only a 1.6 litre engine? To say I was expected a ‘leisurely’ experience would be an understatement. Rather surprisingly however my worst fears failed to materialise! Capable of developing 109PS of power and 177lb ft of Torque the engine is anything but agricultural. The car easily pulls away and gets up to cruising speed quickly, it isn’t fast but then it isn’t meant to be swift, you’ll be wanting the 155 mph T6 V70 if you’re after something speedy, and there is no great reserve of power to call upon should you need a quick burst for overtaking but that said don’t push the car and you’ll find that power and performance from the diesel is perfectly adequate. Coupled to the engine is a five-speed manual gearbox which really could have done with a sixth gear for long stretches of motorway cruising but other than that it’s a quality gearbox, easy to use and forgiving. The most impressive aspect of the Volvo V70 DRIVe is that is emits only 119g/km of CO2, a pretty startling figure when you compare it with other cars in its class or even other eco-badged cars. This means that it slips into VED Band C and 13% for Benefit in Kind, which is similar territory to a diesel-powered Peugeot 207 SW! Official combined fuel economy is 62.8mpg, which we struggled to get near on our test, instead we achieved around 55mpg and this was through driving the car normally, with spells using the cruise control and the climate control on.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 3 stars

The Volvo V70 DRIVe’s power is put down onto the tarmac through its front wheels and handling is a step up from the previous generation model however handling isn’t particularly sharp but for the type of motor it is it really isn’t an issue. More important for the type of buyers interested in the V70 DRIVe will be the car’s ride and its pretty soft, making a nice smooth ride on the motorway, the big estate performed perfectly adequately over rougher ground too, as the suspension happily bore the brunt of the major lumps and bumps in the road surface.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 5 stars

Perhaps the car’s star turn is its build quality, which leads to it being one of the safest cars on the road, and also is apparent when looking at the quality of materials used in the cabin. The SE grade V70 DRIVe comes with full leather seating as standard, climate control, cruise control, and rear parking sensors. All the materials used in the cabin are durable and have an obvious quality to them with a nice contrast of gray plastics highlighted with silver fascias. There’s sometimes a tendency for car maker’s to befuddle the driver with too many knobs and buttons when you’re looking at pricier cars, but thankfully Volvo have tried to keep things simple, with intuitive menus and a sensible number of things to twist, press and learn. Case point being the steering wheel mounted cruise control buttons that are incredible simple to familiarise yourself with and much easier than many other manufacturer’s systems. Special mention must go to the driver seat, which is one of the best our posterior has ever encountered!

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 5 stars

The Volvo V70 was tested by Euro NCAP in 2009 and performed extremely well, achieving the magic 5 star rating thanks to excellent adult and child occupant scores. As you’ve come to expect from one of the motor industry’s safety pioneers the car comes with a stack of equipment to keep occupants safe, a multitude of airbags including Driver, passenger, curtain bags, plus dynamic stability and traction control.

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 5 stars

If space and practicality are high on your list of must-haves then you’ve come to the right place – the Volvo V70 is the daddy estate from the Swedish car maker and it’s certainly not lacking in space. At over 4.8 metres long the car has a good 575 litres of boot space which can be expanded to a maximum of 1600 litres, which frankly should be plenty – anymore than I’d suggest a van. Front and rear there’s plenty of room for all shapes and sizes, with enough rear leg room to seat adults for long distances. An ingenious addition to the rear seats is Volvo’s 40:20:40 split, which allows two adults to be seated in the rear even with the middle 20 down to allow for a long load – with all three rear seats folded, the load area is also completely flat.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 3 stars

The V70 DRIVe SE isn’t a cheap car, it’s on the road price is £27,285, and for extras such as sat nav, sun roof, and metallic paint then you can expect the price to nudge nearer £30k before you know it. That said, for a large estate the car will be comparatively cheap to run, with lower fuel costs, lower VED, and lower BIK compared to any other option out there (apart from the Volkswagen Passat Estate). Competition in the large estate, low emission segment is pretty scarce with the only estate out there which can live with the DRIVe being the VW Passat Estate BlueMotion. With comparable levels of boot space and CO2 emissions it will come down to personal preference as to whether the Volvo or the VW is for you. Overall, the Volvo V70 DRIVe certainly proves that you can have a quality and green large estate.

Performance Performance - 4 stars

Volvo’s biggest challenge with the DRIVe range of cars is proving that they can provide swift and spirited performance despite the revisions made to achieve the undoubted economic and environmental gains. Having driven the DRIVe version of the V70, I can confirm that although it is by no means a top-level sprinter it is more than capable as a long-term marathon mile-muncher. As a likely company car, any V70 model will likely spend most of its life driving up and down the motorway network and the DRIVe variant provides easy and relaxed pace with decent amount of torque which compensates in some respect for the lack of brute force brake horse power. Around town the car is eager to please, if not always endowed with the power to do so.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 5 stars

Comfort is one of the main strengths of the whole of the Volvo range and the V70 is arguably the plushest, most comfortable model it produces. Our car, as the top-spec SE Lux model had full leather interior, rich in quality and with a unique satisfying mixed ‘new car’ and leather aroma. Abnormalities in the road surface were ironed out without a problem and the interior of the car felt very well insulated from the noise of the outside world. The V70 is a huge car, one of the best load lugging vehicles on the road but this executive car’s steering is weighted in a way which makes it feel much smaller and lighter than it actually is.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 5 stars

Solid is a word which describes Volvo in a number of ways and the build quality of the V70 is one of the justifications for that impression. Volvo need to take on BMW, Mercedes and Audi in the competitive business car sector with the V70, and for this task a reputation for quality and reliability is of paramount importance. Volvo have always had this area covered, it is the aspect of excitement, driver experience and dynamics which it has worked hard to get right in the last 10 years. The Volvo marque has been affiliated with solidity and reliability throughout the years and we see no reason why the V70 DRIVe would deviate from this.

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 5 stars

The solidity of the V70 immediately instils occupants with a sense of safety. Of course this is not the only reason you can feel confident in the V70. Rear parking sensors come as standard on our model as did central locking, alarm, ESP and immobiliser. Insurance group 12 at first appears a little high for a vehicle of this ilk as it is definitely not a boy racer’s hot hatch, but size and value influence its rating here. The SE Lux also benefits from ‘blind spot’ indicators fitted to the wing mirrors, providing constant reassurance on all kinds of roads. Being so large, the V70 gives its occupants an over-riding sense of comfort and security.

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 5 stars

Again you cannot fault the V70 in this category, with a boot of min to max 575/1600 litres and plenty of room in the rear for passengers it would take some beating as family and business car rolled into one.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 4 stars

The Volvo V70 aims to compete with the likes of the BMW 5 series touring, Audi A6 touring and Mercedes E-Class touring, all of which occupy large percentages of the premium marque sector, particularly in fleet and corporate sales. The DRIVe range spreads from £25,285 to £36,680 depending on spec level. C02 levels are one of the big selling points for this model at just 119g/km (13%). Residual values are excellent in the Volvo range and the DRIVe of the V70 has all of the ingredients to excel in this area, such as excellent running costs, low company car tax banding, reliability and durability. Service intervals are every 18,000 miles, longer than the usual 12,000 miles and handy for the majority of V70 customers who, as may will be business customer, will tend to average a lot of miles per annum.

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