There was a slight engine hesitation, and an intermittent erratic idle when the car was purchased. The front left wheel bearing was also on the way out when I bought it, but at the time I thought the tyres were just noisy.
The idle and hesitation have all, but gone, could be a combination of having the throttle body cleaned out and country running on PULP.
The climate control unit sometimes flashes on start-up, indicating a fault, but it still seems to work fine.
The overall comfort and ambiance of the car are genuinely luxurious. Leather seats, wood grain and dual zone climate control make every trip enjoyable. The fit and finish and overall build quality of the car is very high, the doors close with a reassuring 'thunk', not the tinny feel of a lot of modern cars.
The 2.4L low pressure turbocharged engine has more than adequate power, put the foot down and it pulls very hard, only just hinting at starting to run out of breath around the 5,500 mark. The gear-change is not the quickest and has a slight notchiness to it - and the engine does not really spool up until about 1500-2000 rpm. Even still, the car is adequately quick when you want it to be.
The rear seats can be folded down to make a completely flat loading area in the rear of the wagon. The space is cavernous and great for lugging gear around the place. Tie down points and baskets for smaller objects are also included, as well as a cargo net which retracts from the top of the rear seats to stop objects from flying forward into the front cabin during an accident.
The AWD system uses a type of viscous centre coupling, which sends torque to the rear wheels when the front wheels begin to spin more quickly than the rear. In practice, I have found this system to work remakably well. The AWD system engages seamlessly, without you even being aware of it. Steep gravel roads can be climbed with ease, I have never spun a wheel. The first gear ratio is quite low to allow low speed work of this type, and works adequately for the conditions the car is designed for. Ground clearance is more than your average road going car, but not really in true 4wd league. The car will clear small rocks on gravel roads with ease, but will not like to see deep sand or rutted out tracks, which is somewhat a shame as the 4wd system would handle it easily. Beaches can be accessed and provided you stay out of the really soft sand the car will handle it easily.
The car has 4 airbags, which is better than a lot of cars even today. The side airbags do not really cover the head though like modern curtain ones do, but its better than nothing - and the Side Impact Protection System (SIPS) is designed to minimise the chance of a head impact in the first place, by placing the occupants a reasonable distance from the window and having strong re-enforcement in that area of the car.
The car is fitted with 16" alloy wheels and is shod with 205/55 tyres. Handling is acceptable and more biased towards sporting intentions than touring ones. Body roll is quite well controlled with a bias towards understeer. The car feels to me to be underdamped though, and seems to take fractionally longer than it should to 'settle' when disturbed by undulating roads. Steering feel is good without being brilliant, and there is some kickback felt through the column when driving over bumps around corners.
The car is good looking and handsome, and the paint finish, as on most Volvo's, is very deep and rich in colour. Mine is cherry red, and looks superb after a wash and wax. Even though the car is a 98 model, it doesn't look like a 10 year old car. The shape seems to have a certain timelessness to it, and the car looks very smart even at 10 years of age.
Overall I have been very happy with this car so far, and would recommend the Volvo V70 and S70 to prospective car buyers who want an affordable, well built, reliable and comfortable car.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 20th February, 2008