The distance between Milan and Marlow, via Metz and including a detour in the Alps, is 870 miles. The reason we know the precise figure is because that was the trip meter reading on the Volvo V70 DRIVe as we drove it onto the forecourt of Volvo UK’s headquarters. The entire trip, from Italy to Buckinghamshire, was conducted on a single tank of diesel with no refuelling. Remarkably, we were not even running on vapour by the end of it. There was still 103 miles-worth of fuel left in our tank, suggesting that we could have eeked out the range to not far off 1,000 miles – fully validating Volvo’s claim that it’s possible to drive 900 miles in this car on a single tankful. The point of the exercise was to test the effectiveness of the 1.6-litre engine and DRIVe eco features now applied to the V70 estate car, and the Milan-to-Marlow test proved a very telling demonstration.
This model joins the V70 range as the lowestpriced, lowest powered version, and on paper you might think it questionable for a big Volvo estate to have a 1.6 litre, four-cylinder engine, albeit a gutsy turbodiesel one. On the road across Europe, though, the car made a very convincing argument for itself.
We had managed to squeeze just under 65mpg out of the car’s 15-gallon tank on our trans-continental drive across four countries. Not by employing any special economy driving techniques, just judicious use of the economy-optimised five-speed gearbox and by maintaining a cruising speed that kept up with other autoroute traffic rather than hammering past it.
Apart from the badges, there are only a couple of tiny exterior clues that this is an eco model. The front grille is smaller to improve aerodynamics, the chassis is fractionally lowered, and a close look at the tyres identifies them as being low rolling resistance. As well as being fitted with a smaller engine than usual for a V70, the car has engine software tailored to optimise fuel economy, and has been given higher gear ratios in third, fourth and fifth. There is a downside. Compared with a towing capacity of 1,600 to 2,000kg for other diesel-engined V70s, the DRIVe’s haulage ability is down to 1,300kg. But that’s really the only drawback.
On a long haul, the V70’s elegantly-crafted interior is a very agreeable place to be. Its cool Swedish ambience is relaxing, and the ‘floating’ centre console is ergonomically pleasing. In this 1.6 DRIVe version, the V70 doesn’t feel especially nippy off the mark, borne out by a slightly leisurely acceleration figure of just over 12 seconds. But with 177lb ft of torque on tap, it doesn’t lack for pulling power through the gears. Meaty brakes, tidy steering and a cushioned ride make it a likeable drive.
If you need the space and flexibility of an estate car but would prefer economy worthy of a supermini, this eco Volvo is well worth considering.
RIVALS: VAUXHALL INSIGNIA SPORTS TOURER S 2.0 CDTi 16v ECOFLEX, VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT ESTATE BLUEMOTION 1.6 TDI
- Engine: 1560cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel with particulate filter
- Gearbox: 5-speed manual
- Max power: 108bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max torque: 177lb ft at 1,750rpm
- Max towing weight: 1,300kg
- Max speed: 118mph
- 0-62mph: 12.8secs
- Combined consumption: 57.7mpg
- CO2 emissions (taxband): 129g/km (D)
- Bootspace: 575/1,600litres
- Insurance group: 11/19