Volvo V70

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Volvo V70 D5 R-Design Premium

Road Test

Volvo V70 D5 R-Design Premium

Driven October 2009

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If it's been bothering you for a while, here's how Volvo's diesel nomenclature works. In the V70, you've got the choice of the 2.4D and the D5, both of which are 2.4-litre, five-pot turbodiesels.

Traditionally the D5 was simply a warmed-up version of the 2.4D, but now it has a second, smaller turbocharger that spools up at lower revs to minimise lag and improve bottom-end punch.The D5 now puts out 202bhp and 310lb ft of torque, 29bhp more than the single-turbo 2.4D and 20bhp more than the old D5. It's clean, too: returning 44.1mpg and 169g/km of CO2, comparable performance statistics to the oft-incomparable BMW 525d, though despite the extra turbo, the D5 still isn't as smoothly progressive in its power delivery as the BMW unit.

Though it's more responsive low-down than the old D5, don't expect much action below 2,500rpm, a lethargy amplified by the sheer bulk of the V70. But get it spinning up past 3,000rpm and the V70 becomes deceptively rapid, albeit never feeling quite as quick as its claimed 7.7-second 0-60mph time. It's a sweet engine nonetheless, warblesome of sound and quick enough that you'd have to have a serious hatred of your own wallet to consider the turbo petrol ‘T5' and six-cylinder petrols.

Don't get the impression that it's, y'know, exciting. Not a bit of it. The V70 is still resolutely Volvo in feel, understeering cautiously and generally feeling safe as houses. Actually, scrap that. The V70 is considerably safer than houses. Houses get damp and rot and bits fall off them. The V70 will not rot or fall apart. The V70 feels like it's made of three-inch thick steel and will survive a direct hit from a mortar, an impression amplified by this big torquey diesel.

The only time the V70 feels any less than mortar-proof is a slight choppiness of ride over bad roads, the fault of the 18-inch wheels on this ‘R-Design' version. Volvo is trying to pitch its R-Design as a trendy Scandinavian rival to BMW's M-Divison or Merc's AMG, but I'm not convinced. Volvo estates need spangly boot spoilers and chrome wing mirrors like Alan Titchmarsh needs gold jewellery and a tiara.

Fear not, the V70 still majors on practicality above glitz, the boot decked out with so many nets and dividers and compartments that it resembles a sadistic army training course for Borrowers. Even with this new bigger diesel and chintzy R-Design kit, the V70 still won't tempt many from their German estates, but it does its own Volvoish thing better than ever before.

Sam Philip

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