CAR showrooms are stacked with many fine examples of carriers for transporting passengers and their stuff.
Whether your transport of delight happens to be an estate car, MPV, hatchback or saloon, there is something for virtually everyone. But it wasn’t always so, for there was a time when seekers of the ultimate in carrying capacity opted in the main for a Volvo.
Back in those days of yore, the Swedish car giant was recognised as the true wagonmaster, renowned for producing estate cars which, while lacking image, suited the older driver with its generous roominess and perceived strength and safety.
However, image means a great deal in the current motor marketplace and over the past decade, the range of Volvo estate cars has steadily shed that sharp-edged, boxy look, now taking to the road boasting decidedly fluid lines while mixing practicality and design with quality, roomy comfort and desirability, plus the usual high Volvo safety standards.
Since being introduced back in the year 2000, the Volvo V70 has banked a shedful of awards. It is the best-selling car in its home country, Sweden, and last year was the biggest-selling large premium estate car in the UK with 6,720 sold during 2005.
The subject of a recent makeover both inside and out, the V70 is now available in S, Sport, SE, SE Sport and SE Lux specification, plus the high performance R model, and the range offers a wide range of engines, including six petrol power sources ranging from 2.0-litre 1178bhp to the 2.5-litre 300bhp in the AWD R flagship model, plus, a brace of diesels and a bi-fuel power source which runs on both Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and petrol. T
here is also an All-Wheel-Drive option available for the 2.5T petrol model and the D5 diesel while five and six-speed manual transmission systems are also offered alongside a choice of three automatic gearboxes.
The V70 D5 SE which is yet another fine example of distinctive, smart and clean-looking Scandinavian design combining agreeably with classic Volvo estate car style.
That expensive thunk as you close the door constitutes more than a very broad hint that you have just entered a quality motor car and, should further endorsement of its cabin class be required, take a look around at the many thoughtful touches much in evidence along with plenty of manoeuvrable space and versatility.
For you are sat in a cabin which is a virtual ergonomic masterpiece where everything is positioned with driver and passengers in mind while the V70 fulfils its estate duties with honours with a vast and very user-friendly luggage bay.
Although there is plenty of decent room in the front of the cabin, the designers have not been so thoughtfully generous in the rear where legroom could prove a problem for taller occupants.
However, the SE model does provide a generous line in fixtures and fittings including leather-faced sports seats, dual-zone climate control, nine-speaker audio system with Dolby Pro Logic Surround Sound and six CD changer, electric windows all round, powered door mirrors, automatic rain sensor and auto-dimming rear view mirror.
As you would expect, safety and security is also of a high order with a full quota of airbags, Side Impact Protection System (SIPS) and WIPS (Whiplash Protection System) for the front seats while driver safety aids include advanced braking and stability controls.
Paired with a smooth-slotting six-speed manual gear change, the 2.4-litre D5 turbo diesel engine delivers some superb performance which proves an absolute joy. Hugely powerful with plenty of flexibility to hand, it provides a strong performance using its 183bhp to extremely good effect being capable of the 0-60mph dash in 8.0 seconds while returning above the 40mpg mark on average.
For a large estate, the Volvo V70 is surprisingly agile, handling adeptly for its size.
Overall, while pricing may prove a little on the high side, the stylish Volvo V70 is a practical, comfortable and well thought out estate car which is stacked with safety factors and so enjoyable to drive.
Volvo V70 D5 SE
Mechanical: 185bhp, 2,435cc 5-cyl turbo diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-spd manual transmission
Max speed: 140mph
0-62mph: 8.0 secs
Insurance group: 14
Combined mpg: 41.5
CO2 emissions: 179g/km
BiK rating: 25%
Warranty: 3 yrs/60,000 miles; 3 yrs paint; 8 yrs anti-rust