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Long-term test: Volvo V70 D5 SE – on sale now

Volvo

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Review

Volvo has always operated in a bit of a niche. Like its Swedish brother Saab, the company wants to be seen as a premium carmaker but gets somewhat sidelined by the German big three.

It has struggled to contribute to parent Ford’s profits as well, despite a strong, high quality product line-up, which has led to speculation about the business being sold back to its former owner, truck maker Volvo Group.

Ford insists it wants to keep the company, though, and has given Volvo increased autonomy to make its own product and marketing decisions.

The V70 has always been Volvo’s bread and butter – an estate car that exudes the Volvo values of family orientated, spacious, safe and environmentally focused.

The latest version, now derived from the S80 luxo-barge instead of the S60, was launched this year and is a noticeable step up in quality, from the control knobs and buttons to the trim fit and embellishments.

The seats are arguably the most comfortable in any car under £50k. It’s also a better drive with absorbing rise and precise handling, though it retains the torquey but rumbling D5 diesel from the old model.

Despite the improvements, the V70 doesn’t drive as well as a 5 Series Touring or A6 Avant – they cover the sporty end of the market.

But it’s the best at being a family estate, with 575 litres of boot space with the seats up, upright rear side windows and a near-vertical rear door (Volvo’s criterion is that a fully-packaged washing machine must fit into the boot).

Forget the fact that it actually has less space than its rivals with the rear seats down – estates spend most of their life as family carriers so pure boot space is the most important figure.

Neat touches include the dog/luggage guard that pulls down from the roof behind the rear seats and the underfloor storage compartment that can’t be opened if the tailgate is shut.

My one issue is the auto gearbox. It’s lazy and has an appalling impact on fuel consumption. It cuts more than 5mpg from the manual’s 41.5mpg – 35.8mpg (official figure) is just not good enough for a diesel.

Price: £27,995
Engine: 2.4-litre diesel 182bhp, 295lb ft
Performance: 0-62mph 9s, 137mph top speed (auto gearbox)
Efficiency: 35.8mpg (official), 31.7mpg (actual)
Start mileage: 21
Current mileage: 4,263
Likes: Comfort, quality, dog guard
Dislikes: Engine clatter, poor fuel consumption with auto gearbox

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