2010 Volvo V70 D3 SE 2.0 diesel (163 PS) from UK and Ireland
Comfortable, relaxing, practical motoring
Original battery died this winter, to be expected at 4.5 years old.
Auxiliary belt had to be replaced 10,000 miles early (preventative measure).
I have to admit I never "got" Volvos before actually owning one. They invariably ended up behind the big German brands in group tests in magazines, with their handling being described as "dull" and always being marked down for one thing or another. This all changed when a new baby meant our old car needed to be replaced by something bigger. Yes, I am that cliche.
Ride & handling:
My SE-spec comes on unfashionable 16-inch wheels with 55-profile tyres, but combined with a suspension tuned for compliance rather than on-the-limit handling, it makes for very, very comfortable progress. Minor imperfections in the road simply aren't noticeable, and the relatively high ride height means that larger obstructions (like speed ramps) don't have me clenching my buttocks in anticipation of sump damage like on the Alfa before.
Motorway and main road cruising is, of course, where this car shines. At speed it feels planted and assured -- you can see why the British police bought so many of these things for motorway patrolling. Steering feel is numb to the point of anaesthesia, but with all that torque going to the front wheels, maybe that's not such a bad thing! Pushed on a winding country road, the car will get unsettled before a BMW or Mercedes would, but that's not really the point of this car. You'll only make your wife angry and the dog car sick, so what's the point?
Engines & Performance:
Although on a 2010 plate, my August car is in fact a 2011 model year specimen. This is good, because MY2010 and earlier engines were pretty crummy. Not particularly powerful and very thirsty (for a diesel). For 2011 and beyond, things got quite a good bit better, though still not up to the gold standard that is BMW.
The 163 PS offered by the 2.0L five-cylinder unit in the 2011 D3, mated to a six-speed auto, makes for very relaxed performance. Off the mark it feels like a V8, but being a diesel, soon runs out of puff. 0-60 comes up in 9.6s, which is perfectly adequate for a car such as this. If you want something faster, you'll need to go for a 2.4L D5 with 205PS, but that's less economical.
Make sure you know the exact specs of what you're buying. The 2011 D3 became a 2012 D4, with the latter model year getting a lower-power unit for the D3.
In the cabin/refinement:
The V70 is a very relaxing place to be, with everything executed with restrained Scandinavian style. The leather seats (standard on SE and SE Lux) are exceptionally comfortable, and wind/engine noise are nicely hushed at motorway cruising speeds. The stereo is excellent, and offers iPod/iPhone integration via a USB port, or generic audio support via a 3.5mm audio in jack.
The boot is huge and well-shaped, swallowing everything we needed for 2 adults, baby, and dog on a trip from Ireland to southern France. Oddments stowage is very good, especially when compared to my previous car: the Alfa 159 was especially dreadful in this regard.
Running costs aren't what you call cheap, but then again this isn't a cheap car. My local authorised Volvo service agent charged an eye-watering €266 for a service, but the customer care was excellent. The car came back washed inside and out, and a year's European breakdown cover was included in the price.
Like many (most?) modern turbo diesels, fuel economy has fallen well short of the manufacturer's claimed figures. Although the official combined figure is 48 MPG (UK), I'm averaging approximately 36 MPG. Even a long motorway run will struggle to get much over 40.
As someone with a young family who has a dog, does a lot of cycling and hiking, and takes long driving trips on the continent, the V70 is hard to beat as an ownership proposition. I'm normally the sort of person who's already planning the next car to buy six months after acquiring a new one, but this time I can see myself holding on to the V70 for a number of years. Come replacement time, I'll be looking at another V70, or maybe its country cousin, the XC70.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 2nd February, 2015
20th Mar 2016, 07:54
Original reviewer, 13 months later.
I'm coming up on two years of V70 ownership, and the car continues to perform brilliantly. A family + dog trip to the south of France last September was no problem, with the car easily swallowing everything we needed for the holiday. Comfort on the French autoroutes was excellent, and we felt rested and refreshed even after the longer legs.
Fuel economy has settled at an overall average of 36 MPG (UK), for a mixture of driving conditions. I have to admit to being a bit disappointed with this, but I suppose it is a 1.7 tonne automatic station wagon. The last service (108K miles) was a big one - it included the timing belt replacement and cost almost €800. Other than that, I've had no unexpected expenses to deal with.
I'll probably keep the car another 12 - 18 months and then start looking for its replacement: another V70.
21st Mar 2016, 11:15
A great and honest review. The best thing is that you understand the car and enjoy it for what it's designed to do. We are exactly the same with our V60 :-)
18th Jun 2016, 03:05
If you ever have issues with the gearbox banging randomly into gear, have a look on forums such as