The BMW M5, a 4.4 litre twin-turbo V8 with 560bhp of existential, unhinged, rear-wheel drive automotive mastery. With a class leading interior say the fan boys. I didn’t feel that class when being chauffeured around in one a few months back. It was the leather faced interior that was my main gripe, it felt as though I were sitting on a Buffalo that was drawing its last breath as if the accountants chose its hide over the suggestions of the designers. Volvo, on the other hand, are making some very classy interior these days, its all about restrained elegance.
Sitting in the V70 D5 SE Lux you get the sense that the accountants were held hostage by a group of renegade freedom designers whilst another group chose the material samples. Every surface seems to have been thoughtfully considered, from the quality of the leather faced seats to the plush feel of the soft touch plastics, its all in the details you’ll never even notice. Some Premium car manufactures are forgetting about this as they chase ever higher volume sales. Its called being cost effective, economies of scale or what ever cost reduction terminology is in fashion.
The V70 is available in three trim levels, Business Edition, SE Nav and SE Lux. The UK gets an all diesel engine lineup from 1.6, 2.0 and 2.5 litre options, no petrol engines are included because a vast majority of UK punters are opting for diesel power say Volvo. The V70 is based on the S80 saloon and like much of the Volvo range received a mild design refresh in 2013. The style revisions include a new lower, wider grill, revised headlights and rear light clusters and redesigned front and rear bumpers.
Some might find the exterior design slab-sided-simplistic when compared to rivals such as the Audi A6 Avant and Mercedes E Class Estate, but if you could ever make a posh looking car then the V70 certainly has that presence about it.
SE Lux trim is the top of range spec, it costs £35k, our test vehicle came fitted with up to £9k of optional extras. Without going into too much detail you get pretty much everything going, digital TV, fine. Gear shift paddles-beautifully crafted, 18 inch alloys-equals road presence. You also get things like Winter pack, Security Pack, Driver Support and Family Pack which are all rather self explanatory. But one option trumped everything, the heated steering wheel which became the main talking point.
The V70 is defined as a mid sized family car, but its safe to say its spacious both in the front cabin and for rear seated passengers but the facts say interior space isn’t class leading which is as much as makes little difference. The V70’s 40:20:40 seating split, is at odds with what motoring journalists prefer and many will make a fuss about it over the good old traditional 60:40 split layout. YAWN! Both systems offer exactly the same function, that is to lower the rear seats flat, in the V70’s case standard boot space increases from 575 litre’s up to 1,600litres. Underfloor storage cubbies also adds a degree of versatility.
The 2.4 litre, 5-cylinder diesel isn’t short on power, 215bhp and 420Nm of torque ensures easy straightline performance but it is subdued at low revs because the V70 weighs 2.3 tonnes in total. Acceleration from standstill is naturally hesitant, build up the speed and the mid range punch is available like a meteor shower. Neither is this engine epically refined its a couple of decibels louder at idle than its rivals which, to be fair, is all but eliminated at cruising speeds where its smooth changing 6-speed auto hustles along without drama. This is where the V70 feels most at home, the comfortable interior and calm driving environment makes for a pleasurable long distance cruiser thanks to an equally comfortable ride.
However the ride comfort does come at the expense of the handling, lets just say its functional rather than sporting, the V70 wallows when cornering, the steering is light and optimised for the motorway rather flicking quickly into corners. However that weight does impact on fuel economy 32mpg combined was the best figure I retained over the course of my week long loan. But you know what I dont mind, the V70 is what it is.
The V70 is like a giant blanket that wraps warmly around you comforting you for every mile of the journey undertaken, throw in practicality and versatility and the V70 is certainly deserving of its premium luxury status in a way that Mercedes and BMW have forgotten about. Only the refinement of 2.4 litre engine, which is good by modern standards but again not class leading, dents an otherwise heavyweight package.