On test: Volvo XC70

Can Volvo’s latest multi-tasking motor appeal to a wider audience? Oliver Mark finds out.

Volvo cars are the steady Eddys of the automotive industry. In fact, driving a Volvo, along with spending Saturday afternoon wandering the aisles of B&Q, is one of the most adult things you can do.

Volvo XC70 D4 spec

  • Engine: Five-cyl, 2.4 litre turbodiesel
  • Power: 163hp
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual
  • 0-62mph 10.2secs
  • Fuel consumption (combined): 51mpg
  • Weight: 1.8t
  • Towing capacity: 2.1t
  • Starting price: £33,905

Looks

Despite the Swedes being famed for their looks, the XC70 4wd estate doesn’t quite have the same chiselled nose and slender body that has left many middle-aged women wobbly at the knees.

It’s a car of two halves. From the waist up it’s smart and inoffensive. The bottom half is less agreeable; clad in an unsubtle plastic trim it makes Bjorn Borg’s 1970s mullet look cool.

Inside

A trawl through the cabin checklist reveals the XC70’s interior to be one of the best equipped on the market. The seats are comfortable and the kit count is enormous. The materials and finish are smart, too.

A fold-down dog cage keeps the pets in the boot and the children out of it. Two extra seats can also be specified in the back.

A false boot floor hides a handy nick-nack tray and a cavern for a spare wheel (an optional extra). A one-touch button flops the rear pews down to double the boot size.

Engine

If it’s four-wheel drive you’re after, go for the 2.4-litre engine. The five-cylinder turbo diesel will pump out 163hp – more than adequate for day-to-day trundling and it should be enough for general towing duties, too.

For real the donkeywork there’s a muscle-laden 3-litre petrol that will boot out 215hp.

Unadventurous driving with the smallest engine will yield about 50mpg – good going for a four-wheel drive. If you’re struggling to reach that then venture into the depths of the 7in screen – there lurk various tips for how to drive more economically.

At tick-over, the engine runs at 750rpm. Lifting your toe off the clutch ups that to 1,000rpm, which makes the car practically unstallable.

Driving it

The XC70 is a jack-of-all-trades, so you should have no bother charging around this year’s rutty fields before hitting the open road in something with the warmth and comfort of a kangaroo’s pouch.

It might maintain a slight preference for tarmac but don’t expect it to handle quite like a saloon. It’s basically a V70 on stilts, so there’s a fair bit of body roll around corners. Those all-weather tyres – handy off road – lack a bit of grip, too.

Gearshifts are smooth and, at speed, wind and road noise is almost non-existent. The only sound comes from the pleasant mutter of the diesel.

Off piste, it’s as good as anything the length of a barge could be. It might not wade through mud quite like a truck, but its 210mm ground clearance should keep its belly clean.

Functions

Our test car came with a migraine-inducing colour screen. A few minutes exploring it and you should find everything you could need on a car (and some things that you probably don’t).

Turn on or off collision warning, lane departure warning and hill decent control. Want more? Add the blind spot information system and a reversing sensor to the list.

Fortunately, shortcut keys on the centre console can control some of these.

Farmers Weekly verdict

The XC70 is not quite a fashion accessory (until you’re over the age of 40, anyway), nor the most charismatic car on the market, but it is well screwed together.

It doesn’t have the road poise to rival a saloon either, but the squidgy off-road suspension is ideal for pothole-ridden roads and the cabin is top notch.

Rivals to the Volvo XC70

Sporty 4x4s seem to be the fashionable choice right now, but estate cars have their merits. Here’s some of the other options on the market.

  • Peugeot 508 RXH (£33,695)
  • Audi A4 Allroad (£31,380)
  • VW Passat Alltrack (£28,480)
  • Skoda Octavia Scout (£22,300)
  • Subaru Legacy Outback (£28,870)
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