The XC70 made perfect sense to me once. Why would you buy an SUV when you could have a better looking, better handling and fundamentally less ostentatious estate car that still had all the off-road ability you’d ever need? The reason was that people want the ostentation. So the XC90 SUV sold in its droves and the XC70 didn’t. Audi had a little more luck with the allroad, but look at them now, with the Q7 selling like crack burgers and a smaller Q5 in the pipe. The public gets what the public wants, and does it really want a new XC70?
Probably not, if our brief road-going liaison is anything to go by. Where the allroad can be raised and lowered on its clever air suspension, the XC70 just sits there, looking oddly jacked up. On board this sensation isn’t quite so pronounced, but that in itself is a let-down. You don’t get the high driving position that XC90 owners love, but you do get weird looks and what turns out to be a fairly wobbly drive.
Volvo is renowned for its comfort, and that is borne out beautifully by the XC70, to the detriment of pretty much everything else. You can immerse yourself in the broad, bolstered seat, but finding a decent driving position is actually strangely hard. And as you move off, the softness of the suspension creates a sensation oddly akin to having drunk too much at sea. And, for all that, the ride still isn’t that great. Sure, you don’t need to slow down for speed bumps, but every little imperfection feels amplified.
The manual gearchange on our test car was also a rubbery, long- throw affair that complemented the whole sea-sickness thing quite nicely but did little for the driving experience. The D5 diesel engine is bloody impressive, making short shrift of the 1,868kg kerbweight, but the £31,035 basic price tag strays into allroad territory, a place Volvo doesn’t want to be.
There is some clever traction control gubbins on the XC70, meaning security in dodgy conditions and more grip over uneven terrain, but this is available on the V70, a car that’ll feel far more stable and secure for the 99 times out of 100 when you’re on regulation roads.
Suddenly the XC70 isn’t making much sense at all.