Ever since Volvo introduced its Amazon estate in 1962, the companyís estate cars have been considered the load-lugger of choice for antiques dealers and families alike. Recently, though, Audi, BMW and Mercedes have seized the initiative at the prestige end of the market, while cheaper alternatives such as the Mazda6 and Volkswagen Passat have won customers seeking plenty of space for less money.
In 2007 Volvo fought back with a bigger model. The third generation of V70 is 4in longer and 2in wider than its predecessor, with 1,600 litres of wardrobe-swallowing load volume when the rear seats are folded flat, and a new design of tailgate providing improved access. Thatís a generous amount of space, although the cheaper Mazda6 can muster 1,750 litres. Nevertheless, the V70 has neat features such as integrated rear child seats and a forward-folding front passenger seat that lets owners cram in additional long items.
To drive, the V70 feels less nimble than its forebears ó probably because its weight has increased by about 250kg ó although itís sprightly enough for most tastes. A new 3.2-litre petrol engine producing 238bhp was introduced in September 2007, and was joined by the 285bhp turbocharged T6 model with all-wheel drive.
An extensive range of trims, engine sizes and transmission choices makes the V70 line-up a little daunting to navigate your way around, but all models are well equipped with alloy wheels, an alarm, rain-sensing wipers and traction control as standard. The SE Sport and R-Design models additionally have 18in alloys, suspension tuned for sporty driving, subtle body spoilers and leather seats.
Whichever V70 model you go for, you can be confident that itís a particularly safe car, as it has scored the maximum five stars for adult protection in Euro NCAP crash tests, and four stars for child protection.
Reliability and servicing
The V70 spends little time in the workshop, thanks to a service interval of 18,000 miles for both petrol and diesel variants, although Volvo recommends that low-mileage users have their car serviced annually. A major service costs about £480, a minor, annual one £255.
When it comes to shrugging off signs of wear, Volvo seats and trim are among the best in the business, although this makes the V70 prone to clocking (having its recorded mileage tweaked to a lower figure). So check for an authentic service history and that the chassis number and invoices tally with the car youíre viewing.
The V70 doesnít hold its value as well as the BMW 5-series Touring, the Audi A6 Avant or the Mercedes E-class estate, but in comparison with estates from the likes of Ford or VW, itís still a pretty safe place to put your cash. Itís designed to handle hard work, so donít be put off by examples that have covered above-average mileages.
Need to know:-
Boot-floor rails provide useful lashing eyes for securing heavy loads
Check for chewed upholstery and trim on cars fitted with a dog guard
Front fog lamps
Check low-slung lenses for damage
Six-speed manual gearbox helps diesel models achieve 40mpg-plus
Due every 12 months or 18,000 miles, whichever occurs sooner
High-performance audio system with separate amplifier sounds excellent
The V70 D5 AWD SE won best towcar in the over 1,800kg all-wheel-drive category of the 2009 Caravan Club Towcar of the Year awards
There isnít a full-size spare wheel but the V70 has a space-saver instead