Volvo thinks out of the box with V70

Volvo added style to its V70 estate without sacrificing practicality, says ANDY ENRIGHT.Like many relics of the 1980S, the Dudley Moore film Crazy People now appears horribly dated.

Volvo added style to its V70 estate without sacrificing practicality, says ANDY ENRIGHT.

Like many relics of the 1980S, the Dudley Moore film Crazy People now appears horribly dated. After all, who could mention an advertising strapline like 'Volvo, boxy but good' nowadays?

Yes, they're still good, but Volvo has now thrown away the boxes and kept the toys. No car epitomised this philosophy better than the V70 estate. Its predecessors were so ugly and dull to drive that they were nicknamed Swedish penalty boxes, whereas the V70 of the year 2000 majored in studied elegance.


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Buying a used example means buying into the legendary reliability without sacrificing style or driver appeal. The best of all worlds? Volvo owners would have you believe so.

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What you pay

The typical ownership profile of the Volvo V70 estate dictates that it's not generally bought by those who chop and change their vehicles regularly. Despite the dynamic improvements that Volvo made to the car, the target demographic was still middle class and over 45 years old. There will still be examples serving their original owners well but plenty have found their way on to the used market by now. These start at �3,000 for the first V-plate 2.4-litre models. You'll pay from �3,500 to get a powerful T5 of the same year or as much as �8,000 for a late 04-reg model.

The post-2004 facelift cars are the best bet. A 2.0T petrol model on 06-plates will still be �10,500. Go for one of the diesel models and you'll find 2.4D examples from �11,000 on 06-plates or �13,500 on 57-plates.

What to look for

The Volvo V70 has yet to report any significant faults although, as with any estate car, check the rear load bay for signs of damage. The five-cylinder engines are relatively unstressed units with the exception of the T5's 250bhp unit. With the more powerful models, check the tyres carefully as they can wear rapidly if the car has been driven in a 'spirited manner'.

The interior trim is hardy and the fittings well made, so the interiors tend to bear up pretty well. With the XC70 Cross Country models check for correct wheel alignment and inspect the suspension and exhaust if you suspect it may have been subjected to something more arduous than a grassy car park. The ramp and departure angles of the car aren't great so check the underside for scuffing or damage.

On the road

Volvos have always been safe but it seemed a streak of flair had crept into the model range with this V70.

It basic similarity to the S80 is most evident in its syrupy smooth ride quality. The dynamics are better than you might expect too. Body roll is evident in corners, but the steering feels accurate and the handling characteristics are benign and predictable.

Once on the move, all engines are quiet. The T5 is swift, but the turbo diesel is probably the best for everyday motoring. With a fair turn of speed, and the ability to average 44mpg, coupled with impressive refinement, the diesel offers an extremely practical compromise.

Overall

If the Volvo V70 was a quick-drying woodstain, it would do exactly what it said on the tin. Roomy, durable, well screwed together and priced towards the premium end of the market, this is a car for those who treat their cars well and in return expect trouble-free motoring.

As a used buy, this V70 makes good sense, although you may have to prise the registration document from the current owner's fingers. It's a car with no hidden surprises, no stings in the tail, and for the target customer, that's very good news indeed.

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