Six months after it first arrived, Richard Dredge’s Volvo V70 has been reclaimed by its maker. As he choked back the tears, he managed to write this tribute to it.
Averaging nearly 40mpg during our time with it, but capable of much more than that with a lighter right foot, the V70 D3 has as much urge as you’re likely to need in everyday driving. At motorway speeds, not much happens when the throttle is floored, but at urban or A-road velocities the hefty estate is positively sprightly. Throw in a supple ride, nicely weighted steering and decent handling, and the Volvo acquitted itself pretty admirably on the dynamic front. It also proved completely reliable, while direct running costs were very good too. Its first service was looming fast (at 18,000 miles), but there was still plenty of tread left on the tyres and the car hadn’t used any oil at all.
While the V70 was hugely likeable, it wasn’t perfect. The stop-start system was too enthusiastic, so the engine would cut out before the car had come to a halt – cutting the electric power assistance to the steering in the process. The six-speed automatic gearbox wasn’t as slick as the eight-speed transmissions generally offered elsewhere, but Volvo has already addressed this gripe with an all-new engine, and an eight-speed automatic transmission attached to it. The tragedy is that many potential V70 buyers won’t give the under-rated estate a second look, because it’s not adorned with a German badge – although there are others that will buy one for exactly the same reason.
Just before the V70 went back, I paid a visit to Volvo’s safety centre in Sweden, where it crash tests its cars. It was in this facility, surrounded by mangled metal, that Volvo’s Media Relations Manager, Martin Baytun, made an interesting point: “The problem we have when trying to persuade some people to buy a Volvo, is that the characteristic which distances us from our rivals is something they’ll hopefully never need”. Martin was talking – of course – about Volvo’s legendary safety credentials. And that’s the thing; as I inspected a current-model V70 with an elk-sized dent in the header rail, I was struck (no pun intended) by where our priorities lie as car buyers. Martin mentioned a club in the US which consists of people saved by their Volvos, and unsurprisingly, they’re evangelical about their cars. Looking at this crumpled V70, Martin took the opportunity to point out that while rival car makers have made great strides in making their products a whole lot safer, it’s still Volvo that goes the extra mile.
It could be argued that some rival car makers have become good at optimising their cars to pass a crash test, but Volvo actually try that little bit harder and engineer their cars for real life conditions. Suddenly, a recalcitrant gearbox didn’t seem like such a big deal…
The front side windows are water-repellent, so when itís wet outside, the glass stays clean.
Thereís no power socket in the boot, so my cool box had to be strapped into the rear seat.
|Date arrived:||17th October 2013|
|Mileage to date:||16,583 miles|
|Fuel consumption:||57.6mpg (official combined)
38.4mpg (on test)