Saturday, 25 May 2013

REVIEW - Volvo V70 R-Design

One thing that has become apparent over recent years is that Volvo have taken great lengths to run in the opposite direction to the big, boring, boxy estate car stereotype that has haunted the manufacturer for years. I personally think they're doing a grand job of it. Then you see a V70- towing a caravan most likely- and the stereotype creeps back. However, when the car you see in front of you now arrived on my driveway, I shall confess to being rather taken aback. The boring estate car certainly didn't look so boring anymore. Not even slightly...

Looks - 10/10

It is at this point that I shall explain the reasoning behind the stunning looks of the V70. I put them down to two main reasons. Firstly, my test car was an R-Design. This trim level is the one to go for if you want that extra sportiness to the looks, and it certainly transforms the car. The second reason is the colour. This is an (albeit optional) amazing colour. I couldn't think of a better name for this colour- which turns a big estate car into a head-turner and breaking stereotypes- than what Volvo have. Rebel Blue. Enough said.

So on the R-Design you get twin exhausts, two-tone alloy wheels, a bodykit, the trademark silver mirrors, and the badging that goes with it. I really like the V70 for being rather boxy at the back, because it almost adds to the shock factor when you see it finished in a colour like this. It never failed to turn heads wherever it went, and you couldn't help but catch your reflection in shop windows as you drove through town. The front end of the V70 is more sleek, and yet imposing when bearing down in your rear view mirror.

On the inside the success continues, with a two-tone interior, more R-Design badging, and the blue dials found on all sporty Volvos. There is a style to the interior that reminds you of all the current model range. It's a premium environment and the materials compliment each other wonderfully; from the aluminium on the steering wheel to the patterned plastic of the centre console. This is of 'floating' style too, as is found in some other models. In the back the privacy glass gave an element of luxury, making the cabin as a whole a wonderful place to be.

Handling/Performance - 9/10

Underneath the (very blue) bonnet of my test car lay what is in my opinion the best engine in Volvo's arsenal; the D5. This 2.4-litre, 5-cylinder diesel is an absolute gem. This powerplant churns out 215PS and a colossal 440Nm of torque, and works incredibly well with the 6-speed geartronic (automatic) gearbox. It has the usual 5-pot 'warble' that makes you smile, and just hurls itself towards the horizon when you plant the loud pedal into the carpet. The dash from 0-62mph takes 8.0 seconds and the V70 can go all the way to 137mph. Power delivery is smooth and refined, yet can give you a firm kick in the back should you require it. Hardly a boring estate car then!

As far as the handling goes, you could occasionally be forgiven for forgetting that the V70 is as large as it actually is. Grip is good, and cornering effortless. On the motorway this car is one of the most comfortable I have ever experienced, but then show it a twisty B-road and it handles well too. You can feel the road beneath you without breaking your back, and it doesn't lean or wallow as its motorway comfort would lead you believe. My only gripe with the V70 was that this D5 version didn't come with AWD, as available in other models. From previous experience I know this to be a superb offering and thought it a shame it wasn't available on the V70. However that being said I was still impressed with the V70 and the front-wheel-drive system can cope well with the engine's power.

Economy - 8/10

Considering that this is a big car with an automatic gearbox, I think it does well here. CO2 emissions are 164g/km, meaning the V70 is in VED band G. This equates to £175 for a year, and this is the same for the first year rate too. Given the market this car is aimed at, potential owners will be happy with that, and you're getting a lot of fun out of the roads for your £175. Out and about the D5 offers you combined fuel economy of 45.6mpg, which again is good for a car which weighs about as much as a small palace.

Practicality - 10/10

Thankfully the V70 lived up to one of the stereotypes, and that was by bein
g the perfect car as a practical tool. Admittedly my test car did have a few optional extras which help its case. Take the front angle camera for instance. When parked at a junction, engaging this shows you left and right via a camera on the front grille, meaning that you don't have to crane your neck to peer round blind junctions. At the opposite end of the vehicle there is a power tailgate which really makes life easy when loading shopping and also saves you the energy you would expel shutting the boot manually.

As an overall car the cabin is more than adequately spacious, and will seat 5 adults comfortably. The boot on the V70 is the size of your average barn, and you will have no end of fun finding things that you can fit in the car with ease. Put the rear seats down and you're left with a space so vast it has two timezones. I truly couldn't fault the V70 for practicality. Not one bit.

Fun - 9/10

On paper the V70 isn't a car that strikes you as being fun. I think this could be down to the caravanning semantics mentioned earlier. However I am pleased to report that I had an absolute hoot in the V70. The fact that people always took a double take to look at it was one thing, but underlying the high score is the ability to make you smile. Anybody who's experienced a D5 will know what I mean. Anybody who hasn't experienced a D5 should do; it really is worth it. Any car that makes you want to go for a drive is a fun one. Just don't go hitching up a caravan to the back. I beg of you!

Concluding Remarks

So to summarise, the V70 was a pleasant surprise. It knocked the stereotypes on the head, and impressed in every department. If you need a large estate car for the kids and the dogs, then the V70 is ideal. If you have the need for sportiness, then the R-Design is the one to go for. If this isn't high up your requirements, then any of the other models will be equally impressive. For more information visit Volvo's website, or pop in to your nearest dealership.

Total Score - 46/50

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