Volvo XC70 D3 VOR

AWD

Volvo XC70 dash
Volvo XC70 VOR front
Volvo XC70 side
Volvo XC70 loadbed

BEFORE it was nice to have a niche, Volvo had created its own.

If you wanted a big, no nonsense estate, roomy and practical with straightforward engineering and bullet-proof residuals, you bought a Volvo estate.

Then other car makers started to envy Volvo‘s niche and piled into the sector so the sophisticated Swedish car maker raised its game.

Its estate chassis became more sophisticated, its interiors more interesting and its dynamic delights more desirable. But it stayed true to its core values.

With some clever marketing and keen margins it has stayed firmly in the sights of its fans and attracted the attention of new buyers.

That marketing included becoming the key sponsor in the world's toughest sailing sport, ocean racing, which is the F1 of the waves as it takes in a series of legs around the world over several months.

Volvo created the Ocean Racing model in the XC70 and I have been driving the D3 2.0 version with its all wheel drive powertrain.

VOR Edition models are specific and while closely related to the usual SE they are actually better equipped but cost less, about £600 less in fact, than the regular model and yet come with distinctive body colours, exterior and interior trim changes and that specific driving and entertainment packages.

The usual 2.4-litre engine from the S60 and V60 has been given a shorter stroke to create 2.0-litres but there is a different turbo-charger designed to give better response from the smaller engine, as well as changes to the induction and injection system, so it pulls sharply and strongly.

The gearchange is positive, precise but a little slow and the clutch has a long travel but the brake pedal is big and the effort needed to rapidly slow the car is minimal.

Steering is well weighted for assistance and feedback and it turns very nimbly in town without being too twitchy on more open roads.

Visibility is good all round thanks to low waistline, deep windows, very bright lights and big wipers, but there are parts of the back screen which are outside the sweep of that blade.

The car had the useful blind-spot protection system to the side to warn of vehicle or people not visible in the rear or door mirrors and it worked very well. Specify the on-board radar and it will pick up people and objects which are threat and slow the car for you.

Noise levels were very low, the most noticeable being road rumbles from the big wheels and tyres.

Access was very good for passengers of when using the massive loadbed and carrying capacity rises from 575 to over 1,600 litres. It's a good shape and no awkward recesses, but also an underfloor compartment for added security.

Ride is very slightly firm, not hard, but improves with more people aboard. It soaks up bumps and road shocks without too much complaint and yet it does not excessively roll around corners as if it was at sea.

For a big car the Volvo XC70 handles well, thanks in part to its AWD transmission, and its higher than usual driving position, good visibility and responsive controls make it a firm favourite with some smaller drivers. VOR Edition seats have unique leather covers and detailing and are big and comfortable with very good adjustment range.

Volvo's reputation has been built on the fore-runner to the XC70 and its done well to win over buyers from bigger 4x4s but it also wants to compete in the super mini sector with some new model in the next few years and this is likely to be a bitter struggle when it could taste sweeter success with a new XC70 type model.

There is however a problem. The current XC70 VOR is a very hard act to follow for those in its wake.

FAST FACTS

Volvo XC70 D3 VOR AWD

Price: £32,565

Mechanical: 163bhp, 1,998cc, 5cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 127mph

0-62mph: 9.6 seconds

Combined MPG: 43

Insurance Group: 32

C02 emissions: 144gkm

Bik rating: 15%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles

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