We’ve spent a week with the Volvo XC70 D5 SE Lux AWD for a review and road test as Volvo’s V70 off-roader comes to the end of its life
It’s all change at Volvo with the arrival of a new generation of cars built on their new Scalable Platform – the XC90, S90 and V90 – and cars like this week’s review model – the 2016 Volvo XC70 D5 in SE Lux trim with automatic gearbox and all wheel-drive – about to be consigned to the Volvo history books.
It’s four years since we last reviewed the Volvo XC70, and even then it was a car that looked like a bit of a hangover from Volvo’s tank-like past, with its butch take on the V70 adding four wheel-drive, plastic cladding and butch bumpers to create a V70 Estate with a useful rugged edge, a raised ride height and the ability to tackle rougher roads.
The V70 isn’t the most dynamic estate in the world – but it is still appealing with its mix of comfort, classlessness, load lugging ability and dependability – and the XC70 inherits all that, but with added butch, and with its sub-SUV abilities does it still offer something for a certain section of car buyers, despite its rather old-fashioned abilities and looks?
Inside and out
The XC70 isn’t the prettiest car in the world, but it does have stature; it looks like an estate car that can actually do a bit more than a boot sale car park thanks to the raised ride height, cladding on the bumpers, down the sides and on the wheel arches, ‘XC70’ roof rails, silver skid plates and a general air of invincibility.
Volvo has also kitted this XC70 with a set of winter tyres – ensuring if we had had some snow we’d have had fun (sadly, we didn’t) – 18″ alloys (£775), a glass sunroof (£950), privacy glass (£380) and Metallic paint (£700), all adding to the premium feel.
Inside, the XC70 is much like the V70, which means old-school Volvo good, plenty of space for six-footers front and back, a commodious boot (not class-leading, but perfectly flat with the seats down, and flexible), delightfully comfortable leather armchairs, good storage space, digital instruments, a floating centre console and a general ambience of solidity and comfort.
Not surprisingly you also get a raft of safety stuff from Volvo, and thanks to the Driver Support Pack (£1,565) there’s extra stuff like Collision warning with Auto Brake, Pedestrian and Cycle Detection, Adaptive Cruise, Queue Assist, Lane Departure warning, Driver Alerts and Road Sign Display.
The Security Pack (£750) adds Keyless, Laminated Windows, Water repellent front side windows and Volvo’s Personal Car Communicator, the Winter Pack (500) adds heating for the seats and windscreen and the Family Pack (£295) means power child locks and integrated 2-stage booster seats.
All of which – along with a few more choice options – pushes the price of the XC70 up from £41,235 to a shade under £50k. Which is really too much for what you get, but it does make the XC70 very appealing and very well-equipped, in a way that is thankfully devoid of ‘flash’.
Performance and on the road
Unlike the V70 estate we reviewed recently – which had the new D4 Drive-E engine and latest eight-speed auto ‘box – the XC70 has to make do with Volvo’s old 2.4 litre five-cylinder diesel and the six speed auto ‘box.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with the D5 engine, it’s just that in comparison to the new 2.0 litre D4 Drive-E lump it feels harsher and less willing, despite more horses at its beck and call than the D4.
But in a daft sort of way, the old D5 suits the XC70 perhaps better than the D4 would.
Unlike the D4 – which is keener to rev, and more responsive with the new eight-speed auto – the six-speed auto in the XC70 wants to keep you in a high gear and let you waft and amble, which suits the whole demeanour of the car.
It’s best suited – despite its higher ride height – to motorway cruises, and the D5 engine is nicely isolated and simply gets on with its job. It even makes a fair stab at good economy – particularly for a big car with a less than super-slippery shape – averaging the right side of 40mpg when you need to cover big distances in comfort.
The XC70 also does town driving with aplomb, tickling along in traffic without intruding on your thoughts (and queue assist makes it even more pleasant), and the only time you really need to be involved is if you want to make a sharp exit when it’s best to knock the gear lever in to sport to make sure you get an instant response.
The XC70 also makes a better fist of rough roads than many pseudo off-road estates do, and although we didn’t do serious green-laneing we did tackle a few rough farm tracks which the car took in its stride without breaking sweat – and was nicely comfortable and isolating too.
This car was fitted with Volvo’s Active Four-C Chassis (£1,000) which is designed to give you a great ride in Comfort and then firm things up when you want a blast. It does work – the car corners flatter and with less wallow in Sport – but you get so used to the XC70 being a comfortable tank there’s little motivation to throw it around.
We can’t pretend the Volvo XC90 is the most appealing, high-riding estate with a degree of off-road ability, because it’s not. Or at least it’s not if you want an ‘Allroad’ estate with pretensions of sports car performance and handling.
But despite the XC70 offering a ride and driving experience that’s more comfort focussed than anything else in its sector – and its dynamics when you’re hustling being less than cutting-edge – there’s still big appeal in Volvo’s old -fashioned XC70.
If you live in the country, want a big, comfortable, bullet-proof estate that will lug big loads, carry passengers (and driver) in comfort and be able to tackle not just rough farm tracks but snow and ice when it’s around, there’s a lot going for the XC70.
What does mitigate against the XC70 is price; at almost £50k with the (admittedly impressive) options Volvo has fitted, the XC70 isn’t really value for money.
But, just the the V70, the XC70 is about to depart Volvo’s range (to be replaced by the V90 Cross Country), so as Volvo’s dealers look to clear any remaining inventory there should be some cracking deals around.
What you could also consider is grabbing a year old XC70, which would give you a car that’s a very able, classless and robust family load lugger, that you could use for evermore, for around half of what this XC70 lists at.
Which is an appealing idea.
Volvo XC70 D5 Geartronic SE Lux AWD Quick Specs
- Engine: 2400cc, 217bhp
- Performance: 0-62mph 8.2 seconds / Top Speed 130mph
- Economy: 48.7mpg – Official / 35.1mpg – Test
- Emissions: 153g/km
- Price: £41,235 / Price as tested £49,800
- Test car supplied by Volvo UK
Test car options
Driver Support Pack – £1,565
- Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake
- Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection
- Adaptive Cruse Control (ACC) and Distance Alert
- Queue Assist
- Lane Departure Warning
- Driver Alert Control (DAC) with Active High Beam
- Road Sign Information Display
Security Pack – £750
- Keyless Drive (includes Keyless Entry and Keyless Start)
- Personal Car Communicator
- Laminated Windows
- Water Repellent Fron Side Windows
Winter Pack with Active Bending Lights – £500
- Heated Front Seats
- Heated Front Windscreen
- Headlight Cleaning System
Family Pack – £295
- Integrated 2-Stage Booster Cushions x2
- Power Child Locks – Rear Doors
- Active Four-C Chassis (Continuously Controlled Chassis Concept) £1,000
- Metallic Paint £700
- Power Glass Tilt and Slide Sunroof £950
- 18” Leda (diamond Cut/Light Grey) with 235/50 Tyres £775
- Load Compensating Suspension £550
- Sensus Connect with Premium Sound by Harmon Kardon £500
- Volvo on Call with App £450
- Dark Tinted Windows – Rear Doors and Cargo Area £380
- Gear Shift Paddles £150
- Tempa Spare Wheel and Jack £150