Volvo V70 1.6D DRIVe31 | 12 | 2010Scotcars rating

    Volvo's iconic big estate still swallows luggage, but now it does it with a green smile


    Think of traditional standards. The nuclear family of Mr and Mrs and their two-point-four children; three meals a day and a Sunday roast; Mary Marquis and her scarf delivering Reporting Scotland on the telly and the freshly-baked smell of a pan loaf. What completes the picture? What is parked in the drive outside the three-bedroom semi? Why, it’s crystal clear ... it’s a Volvo estate.

    Yes, this Swedish workhorse has been around since time began and many of them are still giving great service in what should have been their twilight years. I’ve heard so many stories of their robustness and fortitude. My sister had one for many years to transport all the stuff for her shop. She’d probably still have it now if it wasn’t for the runaway car which crashed into it while it was parked … and which definitely came off worse. The Volvo had a slightly bent back door. The offender was a write-off.

    Not so long ago I drove an elderly one-owner 240. It had almost perfect bodywork and was solid as a rock. Sadly its brakes were pretty solid too – they packed up as I was driving down Foresterhill Road in Aberdeen which was an experience I could have happily done without. The latest versions may look similar, but things have moved on dramatically since those early days and the super-economical V70 DRIVe with the small 1.6 diesel engine is a big car which is also easy on the pocket.  

    On the road 

    Sensible, safe and secure; and the little power unit is remarkably capable, if a wee bit underpowered when it is asked to work hard with a full load. Even in difficult conditions of snow, ice, mud and rain, it felt sure-footed and stable. Its big asset though is it environmental credentials with a huge reduction in carbon emissions and superb economy. With a  CO2 level of just 119g/km, it is below the ‘magical’ 120 figure which means bargain basement road tax of just £30 and huge savings in Benefit-in-Kind tax bills for company car drivers.

    Two main techniques are used by the V70: intelligent battery recharging ensures the car’s control system allows the alternator to charge the battery only when the engine is running at low load, such as driving downhill; plus the belt that drives the alternator and air conditioning compressor are designed to reduce friction and so lower fuel consumption and emissions.

    Comfort & Safety 

    The test car was in SE trim — which comes with some very fine leather upholstery as standard — but Volvo had kindly stuck in almost £4000 worth of options, including sat-nav, Bluetooth, winter pack and the BLIS blind spot system which puts on a warning light when another car enters the blind spot to left or right. I’m never very sure of these things – any decent driver should always know what’s around them – but it is effective, even if it the system’s camera does sometimes get obscured by road dirt.

    The ignition is by way of a keyring transponder which slots into a hole on the dash and the engine will only fire if you depress the clutch. It may be me – a case of operator error – but it often took several goes before everything got going. The car is simple, yet comfortable; secure and safe; spacious yet compact. I liked it a lot.  

    Should I buy one?

    Traditional and sensible. Economical and efficient. It's difficult to criticise it.

    Keep up-to-date with all the latest news by following us on

    Alan Douglas

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £26,910 / £30,745
    Engine / Power: 1560cc / 109bhp
    How fast?: 0-62mph 12.1secs,  Max 118mph
    How big/heavy?: H1547mm W2106mm L4823mm / 1650kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: Combined 62.8mpg / CO2 119g/km
    InsGP/Road tax: / Band C, £30
    Alternatives: Saab 9-5; Audi A4; BMW3 Series; Vauxhall Insignia

    User Comments

    Login or register to post comments.
    Send to friend
    Click here to add message:

Car Review Finder