We’ve had the most traditional of Volvo Estates in for a week – the Volvo V70 with the D5 engine and R-Design extras – to review and road test.
There once was a time when all Volvos were boxy and capacious, and a Volvo estate that sacrificed capaciousness for style was anathema.
But that perception of Volvos has been changed in recent years with swoopy estates like the V60 and the latest version of the V40, both of which still offer good load-lugging capacities but give form a higher priority than Volvo’s functional focus of old, starting to dominate Volvo’s line-up.
But there is one Volvo estate car that still offers the big load-lugging capacity the chattering classes love for transporting their big lumps of Antique Centre brown furniture home in – the V70 estate.
So as an antidote to the recent swoopy estates we’ve had in from Volvo for review, we thought it would be a good idea to see if Volvo’s most traditional estate can still cut the mustard, and manage to offer a bit more than a lumbering box on wheels with a plethora of safety features.
What we have to play with is the Volvo V70 D5 R-Design Nav with the Volvo Geartronic auto ‘box, perhaps the most appealing V70 on offer if you want a load-lugger that can pick up its skirts and hustle, but still offer the promise of decent economy.
Volvo V70 – inside and out
This may be Volvo’s most ‘traditional’ estate, but the R-Design option makes it look a lot more contemporary, and a lot less boxy.
That conspires to make the V70 with the R-Design option look like it should be the default option for V70 buyers; gone is the boring, boxy shape and in comes something that looks much more modern and streamlined. And all with just a few tweaks like lower ride height, nice alloys and a few subtle body bits, like more butch bumpers and a tailgate spoiler. It’s a good trick.
Inside is typically Volvo good, with nicely upholstered, comfortable leather seats that let you leave as relaxed as you entered (however long your journey) Swedish-good minimalist controls, Volvo’s ‘floating’ centre console, lots of aluminium trim and a feeling that everything is properly bolted together.
The V70 R-Design also has Volvo’s new Sensus Infotainment centre with a decent-size screen sitting atop the dash delivering everything from SatNav to streaming media from your smartphone and it’s a huge improvement on Volvo’s previous systems.
Fortunately, the V70’s main party trick – swallowing big bits of brown furniture – stays intact through the R-Design party tricks and can swallow pretty much anything you buy on impulse, and it loads easily too with nets and strapping and the like keeping your impulse buy in place.
Keep the back seats up and your passengers will have decent head and leg room and, by all accounts, almost as comfortable a ride as the driver and front passenger, and there are more than enough cubby holes to dump stuff in.
A boxy Volvo estate is not the sort of car you buy for its outright driving dynamics, but the V70 with R-Design bits – and Volvo’s D5 engine – make a pretty good fist of providing a decent set of driving dynamics and decent performance too.
The D5 disel engine – even mated to Volvo’s quite old-tech Geartronic auto ‘box – manages to offer good performance and the promise of decent economy.
With 212bhp and a useful 325lb/ft of torque, the D5 engine is brisk to 62mph – 7.5 seconds – and with enough torque to make pick up brisk without mashing the pedal to the floor.
What is a surprise is that the R-Design tweaks to the suspension – lowered with improved springs and dampers – make the V70 R-design much more dynamic. It’s not exactly sporty, but it does let you chuck the V70 round back roads with a degree of alacrity you wouldn’t expect, and yet still feels nicely comfortable and compliant.
Volvo say you should average 45.6mpg from the V70 with the D5 engine and Geartronic box, but we only managed to see 34mpg. That said, we did enjoy chucking the Volvo around in a way most owners wouldn’t and we have no doubt that normal use would see economy the right side of 40mpg. Not bad at all for a load-lugging Volvo estate with the ability to hustle and handle.
Volvo V70 R-Design – Verdict
We had no real expectations that the V70 would be anything other than a soggy Volvo estate whose raison d’etre was to transport more stuff around than any of Volvo’s more modern, swoopy estates can manage. But we were pleasantly surprised at its abilities.
The recently updated D5 engine suits the V70 – its nicely brisk and acceptably economical – but it was the addition of the R-Design bits that made this V70 rather appealing.
True, Volvo did manage to load this particular V70 R-Design with lots of options like Driver Support Pack, Winter Pack, Blind View Camera and all round Park Assist (almost £9k of options altogether) – which certainly made it a nicer car to live with – but the basic V70 D5 R-Design has all the stuff that makes this version of the V70 appealing.
Unless you really want a Volvo V70 that is almost invisible and uninspiring to drive, there is no doubt the R-design version is the model of choice. We’d take the D5 engine this car has, although you may want to choose the D2 or D3 if the tax man wants a contribution – or even the T6 if he doesn’t and someone else is paying), but it’s the R-Design tweaks to style and dynamics that make the V70 R-Design an appealing load-lugger.
Volvo V70 D5 R-Design Quick Tech Specs
- Engine: 2400cc, 212bhp
- Performance: 0-62mph 7.5 seconds / Top Speed 137mph
- Economy: 45.6mpg – Official / 34.2 mpg – Test
- Emissions: 164g/km
- Price: £34,820 / £43,750 as tested
- Full Volvo V70 D5 R-Design Specifications
- Test car supplied by Volvo UK