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Volvo XC70: First-class comfort and sophistication

By Roger St. Pierre

Oh for the days when all cars had simple, memorable names like Escort, Viva and Maestro.

The latest Volvo to pull on my drive bears the formidably tongue-twisting tag XC70 D4SE NAV – try remembering that when you want to brag about your new car to your assembled mates.

Time was when estate cars seemed a dying breed but Volvo and other makers have fought back with ever more inventive ways of lugging round lots of luggage and lots of people than can be handled by a saloon without resorting to a high to the wind MPV people carrier.

While you will once again see plenty of such vehicles on the big city streets as their popularity resurges, it is particularly the country set who understand the appeal – which is why the Swedes added a more rugged XC range to supplement their V models. The latest of these is the just launched big boy XC90 but the car I drove is the slightly more compact XC70, which has been comprehensively upgraded with a panoply of new features, including the ground-breaking pedestrian and cyclist detection with full auto brake system.

Road sign information flagged up on the dashboard monitor is a worthy new safety feature from a maker renowned for such considerations.

Most buyers will likely opt for the 4x4 rendition of this byway bruiser. Which is why my test car perched on big 19-inch wheels to give added ground clearance, enhancing the car’s impressive off-road abilities, while big skid plates protect the under-body on uneven, rocky surfaces.

Hill descent control further boosts the XC70’s 4x4 go anywhere promise and the car can be specified with an advanced self-regulating active chassis system that uses a number of sensors to continually monitor the car’s behaviour and adjust it in fractions of a second to suit the driving conditions of the moment.

A luxuriously appointed bespoke interior provides first-class comfort and sophistication, combined with a spacious 575 litres of load space that swells to a cavernous 1,600 litres when all the passenger seats are folded flat – and usefully, the rear seats fold down into three segments. Neatly, the electronically controlled tailgate can be operated remotely via the key fob or by pressing a button on the dashboard.

The hot version is the T4 three-litre petrol model, but that’s rather thirsty at 26.7 mpg in the combined cycle, as against 44.1 mpg of the 4x4 two-litre diesel models or the parsimonious 57.6 mpg of the front wheel drive only version.

The two highly advanced diesel engines are of four sand five cylinder design respectively.

A range of gearboxes runs through six-speed manual to six and eight-speed automatic.

On the road prices range from £34,355 to £42,265.

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