Volvo V70 2 litre SE Estate

In the confusing change of numbering/naming systems that Volvo have undergone in recent years the V70, despite the new nomenclature, is essentially the Estate with which the Swedish car maker has really made it’s name and enviable reputation over the last few years, a reputation for safety, solidity and massive load lugging capabilities, all qualities that has made them ideal family cars and much favoured by antique dealers, horsey types and country dwellers generally, indeed, by any one who needs to carry a lot of... anything.

But the latest changes don’t only involve name calling for there have been many detail improvements in the range that now runs from the 2 litre 10 valver in base spec at £20,025 to the R spec 4x4 - or all wheel drive - estate at a whopping £36,775, both of those figures being for well equipped vehicles as standard but before you hit the massive options list. I drove a fairly representative mid-range car the 2.5 10valver in SE spec, which, in standard form, is on the road at £22,625. Smoother and rounder than some of the earlier Volvo estates the V70 offers those very real estate virtues, loads of space, great safety and the right image at the Golf course, company car park or school gate.

Both externally and internally the car is unmistakably Volvo, the changes from the earlier models being very subtle, a gentle rounding of the body panels, the usual high quality of build and finish, as ever, tight shut lines and a reassuringly solid clunk on closing the doors. The load area is class leading either with the seats up or down and the  cabin is enormous with tons of head and legroom, comfortable, well trimmed and with all of the usual Volvo features yet, again, subtly smoother and rounder, huge, comfortable and multi adjustable seats.

The engine for the V70 is transverse mounted, driving the front wheels,   a 5 cylinder, 10 valve, 2.5 litre gem, smooth, quiet - unless pushed very hard when it develops a quite sporty note - good performance with very reasonable fuel consumption, this crackerjack power plant is well matched to a very driveable 4 speed, triple range, auto box but for those who prefer there is a light 5 speed manual gearbox. The auto is very little slower than the 5 speed, likes being used to it’s fullest and most owners will use it to get that wonderful engine note going.

The SE spec is pretty comprehensive although there are still CD, R and XC trims further up the price bands and a number of option packs but your £22,625 buys you aircon - or power sun-roof - leather wheel. the award winning child safety seat, an information computer, front fog lights, rear spoiler, alloy wheels, driver’s airbag, seat belt tensioners, ABS, remote locking with alarm and immobiliser, power steering, windows and mirrors and a top quality stereo.  

As much as for the drivetrain it’s in the handling department that the V70 excels, with suspension that makes it more alive, more fun, than any estate has a right to be, the speed sensitive power steering is well weighted and turns the car in precisely with good feedback, there is minimal body roll for what is a fairly large car, it’s all  nearer to the handling response of a hot hatch.

You really don’t need me to tell you what a fine motor car the V70 is, the numbers that one sees on the road are indicative of the car’s success and testament to the satisfaction of their owners and check the number plates of Volvo estates generally if you want proof of durability, the Volvo estates drive, they deliver, they last and they are a damn fine motor car.

  • PRICE - £22,625 on the road
  • TOP SPEED - 121  MPH
  • 0-60 MPH - 11.9  SECONDS

First Published 1997 - Article © Graham Benge 2007

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