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First drive: Volvo V70 and XC70 – on sale September



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During the last few decades, Volvo has built its reputation around its large, solid, dependable estate cars. The new V70 and its beefed-up XC70 crossover spin-off look set to continue that story when they arrive in UK showrooms this September.

These are two important models for the UK, where their combined sales account for around a quarter of Volvo UK’s registrations. The target for 2008 is 7,000 units of V70 and 2,500 units of XC70.

This should be achievable: the cars are well priced and specified, and customer loyalty is huge – Volvo expects up to three-quarters of sales to be to existing customers.

The V70 range employs three petrol engines and two turbodiesels. Manual transmission is standard, except on the 3.2-litre and T6 AWD models which have standard geartronic transmission. XC70 is available in D5 or 3.2-litre petrol guises only.

Three specs are available. Even entry-level SE is highly specified, with 17in alloy wheels, eight-speaker audio, body-coloured bumper mouldings, load adaptive rear lights, a steel load protection grille, cargo load system, lockable load floor and 12v outlet in the cargo area.

SE Sport gains handling and styling enhancements including rear spoiler, 18in alloys and ventilated leather. SE Lux gets power and heated front seats, Bi-xenon headlamps and a powered tailgate.

Option packs target different groups. The Family Pack is especially interesting thanks to its dual-stage booster cushions built into the rear seat.

At the press launch, the V70’s design team kept dropping hints that the car was more fun to drive. It certainly is improved over the old model, but fun is a stretch of the imagination.

That is not the V70’s market. Its customers want safety, comfort and the capability to haul loads. Volvo dealers might need to skirt around one fact: it’s not the largest load-lugger. Volume varies from 575 to 1,600 litres, depending on rear seat configuration.

It beats the BMW 5 Series Touring, Vauxhall Vectra and outgoing Ford Mondeo estates only until the rear seats are down (5 Series max: 1,650 litres; Vectra max: 1,850 litres; Mondeo max: 1,745 litres), but is dwarfed by the 690 to 1,910 litres load of the Mercedes E-class estate.

However, the Mercedes’ entry price is £3,000 higher.

Price: V70 £26,495 - £38,280, XC70 £31,035 - £36,200
Engines: V70 2.5 petrol: 198bhp; 3.2 petrol: 235bhp; T6 petrol: 283bhp; 2.4D: 160bhp; D5 183bhp, XC70 3.2 petrol: 235bhp; D5 183bhp
Performance: 0-62mph: 6.7-9.4secs; top speed: 130-152mph
Transmission: Six-speed manual, geartronic automatic
Efficiency: 24.8-43.5mpg; 172-272g/km CO2
CAP RV 3yr/30k: Not yet available
Rivals: BMW 5 Series Touring, Mercedes-Benz E-Class estate, Vauxhall Vectra estate
Strengths: High standard specification, solid feel
Weaknesses: Handling is still lacking
Opportunity: Modernised but safe looks ensures repeat custom
Threat: New Mondeo estate will be snapping at V70’s heels
USP: The loaded estate of the sub-premium segment

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