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£30,882 when new

Car specifications

Budget
£30,882
Brake horsepower
260bhp
Fuel consumption
29.7mpg
0–62 mph
6.80s
CO2
226g/km
Max speed
155Mph
Insurance Group
42E

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A slice of family life in the not-too-distant future: the week’s shopping is secured in the holder in the boot and tonight’s takeaway hangs from the curry hook. The baby is strapped into the ISOFIX child seat and the other brat is playing with his Pokémon cards on the centre table. My coat is on the coat hook and the fold-out bin is filling up with sweet wrappers. Oh, and we’re doing 155mph chasing a bloke in a 911.

So it’s a tad unlikely, yet it’s perfectly possible in the Volvo V70. Brimming with features to make family life more nuclear, the V70 is being launched with a choice of two turbocharged five-cylinder engines offering atomic acceleration. Later on, there’ll be a pair of normally-aspirated engines and a diesel, together with an XC four-wheel driver.

The 2.4-litre version conjures up 200bhp at 6,000rpm and 210lb ft of torque between 1,800 and 5,000rpm, while the 2.3-litre T5 steams in with 250 horses at 5,200rpm and 243lb ft available from 2,400-5,200rpm.

Attempting to transfer this to the road is a choice of a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic gearbox (with or without Tiptronic-style override).

Even hampered by the auto gearbox, both cars provide lively performance. Without the aid of the standard-fit DTSC traction control and anti-skid system, you’d be through a set of front tyres before you reached the end of the street. Against the clock, the 2.4T will crack 62mph from rest in 7.9secs (8.3 for the auto) and run out of oomph at 139mph (136 auto). The searing T5, meanwhile, will notch up 62mph in just 7.1secs (7.5 auto) and max at 155.

The V70 is a big car, and initially it feels huge, but as the miles pile on it seems to shrink round about you.

Although not quite the sports car Volvo likes to think it can be, the V70 does steer well and grips the road eagerly. Only under braking does the V70’s bulk really show as you battle the momentum of a tonne and half of Swedish metal. The brakes are certainly strong enough, but lacking a tad in feel.

The upshot of all this is that you don’t have to sacrifice an enjoyable drive for the sake of the Labrador and kids. Neither do you have to give up an element of style, for the V70 is quite elegant for a hearse-back. It strongly resembles the S80, yet Volvo insists that it is not the same car with a new rear end. It may not be as attractive as an Audi Avant or 5-Series Touring, but it’s a fine effort. Inside, all is functional (except the vastly complicated satnav system), well finished and squeak-free.

As well as sound deadening, this exceptional quietness has been achieved thanks to a body that gives significantly more torsional rigidity than its predecessor. This has also aided the handling without compromising ride comfort.

Priced from £25,855 to £29,660, the V70s offer high levels of standard equipment, with a twin-position rear seat, shopping-bag holders and roof rails, plus electric windows and the full complement of safety kit - twin intelligent airbags, WHIPS, SIPS, IC curtain and ABS brakes. Optional S and SE packs mean you can add everything from leather to satnav and a telly.

All that practicality and almost supercar performance makes the prospect of family life seem slightly less daunting. Not that I’m ready just yet.

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