"It's not the most exciting drive, even among estates, but the Volvo V70 is big, comfortable and very safe."
The V70 is the epitome of what Volvo is famous for - it's a big, comfortable and safe estate car. It's not the biggest in its class, but few will be disappointed with its luggage carrying capacity. Choose one of the three available diesel engines, and it also offers low running costs - especially the DRIVe version. The V70's trump card, though, is its long-distance comfort. Supportive seats and a quiet cabin mean few cars can match its motorway cruising ability. Two powerful petrol engines and four-wheel drive are available too, although they raise running costs dramatically without really adding anything to the driving experience.
The V70's steering is so light it feels somehow detached from the front wheels, and there's quite a bit of body roll when cornering. The clutch and gear change are both light, too, although the automatic gearbox suits the car's general comfort-oriented demeanour better. Adjustable suspension, which offers Comfort, Sport and Advanced settings, is an option. It doesn’t make the car any more comfortable or better to drive, though. Behind the wheel the V70 feels like a long car, which, combined with a poor turning circle, means it's cumbersome around town.
The V70's cabin is a cut above. The firm's familiar 'floating' centre console design is present, but there are more buttons and a sense of better quality about the surface materials. It's more comfortable on the motorway than it is around town, where it can tend to shake somewhat over bumpier roads. At higher speeds, the combination of sublimely comfortable seats and a quiet cabin make long distances melt away. The bigger wheels of R-Design versions emphasise the V70's low-speed cabin vibrations more, however.
The V70 falls short of the outright solidity of a BMW 5 Series or Audi A6. Its safety record is excellent, though, with a five-star Euro NCAP rating including superb scores for adult and child safety. There's a raft of head, body and leg protection, including airbags all round and Volvo's side impact protection system. No widespread reliability issues are reported.
Few vehicles this side of a Ford Transit van offer the day-to-day practicality of the V70. Its 575-litre boot isn’t the biggest in class – that title goes to the huge 695-litre Mercedes-Benz E-Class - but the space is used impressively. The seats fold 40/20/40 for through loading, and there are hooks, nets and straps to keep smaller items in place. The loading space is flat, and the cabin has a number of places to store oddments, including a big box between the front seats. The rear seats can even be converted into booster chairs for small children.
Value for money
Even base model ES versions get alloy wheels, climate control, and roof rails, although in this premium sector the full leather and satellite navigation of SE Lux models are desirable. Like-for-like, the Volvo undercuts its Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz rivals, and because the V70 is popular it also holds its value well - unless you buy a petrol version.
The DRIVe's 62.8mpg and 119g/km stand out in this sector, especially compared to the 27.7mpg of the powerful T6 petrol model. The best engines for hauling heavy loads are the 161bhp D3 and 202bhp D5 diesels, which return 51.4mpg and 52.3mpg respectively. It's slightly odd that the more powerful D5 is more economical, but the D3 is almost as quick, cheaper to buy and quieter. Volvo offers fixed-price servicing deals over a set term, although the prices it quotes are actually quite high.