BY ANDY ENRIGHT
The Volvo XC70 has quietly become one of the staples of the Swedish manufacturer's range. In many ways, it's become the inheritor of the classic Volvo estate mantle, despite being saddled with some dubious lifestyle marketing. If you want a sold Volvo estate that will do the business whatever the weather, then the second generation XC70 model we look at here is the default choice. Here's what to look for when tracking one down used.
The genes of the XC70 can be traced back through the V70 Cross Country right back to the V70 XC, originally launched in April 1999. Although many credit Audi with introducing the concept of the premium 4x4 lifestyle estate, history shows that Volvo beat its German rival to the punch by a year. The Swedes certainly made that experience count with the 2007 car.
It was initially launched with a choice of either a very thirsty 3.2-litre T6 238PS petrol engine or the more popular 185PS D5 diesel powerplant, displacing 2.4 litres. Trim levels ran SE, SE Sport and SE Lux with prices opening at £31,035. It didn't take long for Volvo to start tinkering with the product though.
In May 2008, the XC70 got a number of equipment upgrades, with the SE Lux specification getting Active Bending Lights, heated washer nozzles, Load Compensating Suspension and chronograph instrument dials. In February 2009, the engine range got a tweak with the D5 powerplant getting a boost to 205PS whilst at the same time its CO2 emissions were cut from 199 to 185g/km. A 2.4D front-wheel drive model was also introduced under its green DRIVe banner, boasting CO2 figures of 159g/km. Early 2009 also saw Volvo tinker with the styling a little, with a new front grille displaying the large iron mark and new steering wheel chrome highlights and chrome trim around the ignition area. Cars with the D5 and T6 engines also got visible twin rear exhaust pipes as standard.
Fast forward to May 2011 and Volvo introduced a new naming strategy for its cars and a new engine for the XC70. All engines were now badged depending on the power output. There were three engines in the new five-cylinder two-litre diesel family; a 150PS D2 (badged 'DRIVe'), a 163 PS D3 and a 177PS D4. The XC70 only got one of these; the D3 in front-wheel drive configuration, sold alongside the all-wheel drive 205PS D5 and 304PS petrol T6. The D5 was next to get worked on, Volvo dropping CO2 to as little as 149g/km.
What You Get
The styling is probably the ace in the XC70's hole. Where the Audi A6 allroad became more restrained, the XC70 opts for a beefier, more macho look and it suits it very well. As well as the scratchproof protective cladding along the car's flanks and arches, there are chunkier front bumpers, blacked out side pillars and C30-inspired tail lights.
The windscreen and tailgate are raked but the emphasis remains on serious carrying capacity. It's still extremely space-efficient with a class-competitive 485-litres of fresh air back there and a massive 1,641-litres can be liberated if you fold the rear seats down and stack your cargo to the roofline. You'll also find luggage nets and hooks to help secure any items with wayward tendencies.
The car's designers cleverly decreased the amount the side glass curves from front to rear, for maximum style at the driving end and maximum carrying ability at the business end. XC-embossed roof rails are a standard fit and the contrasting colour of the front foglight surrounds give the XC70 a mean squint. Front and rear crash plates leave onlookers in no doubt as to this car's dual purpose role. This being Volvo, every V70 comes with a comprehensive array of safety equipment including the excellent WHIPS whiplash protection system and traction control. There's obviously ABS along with numerous airbags as well.
What to Look For
Make sure the car is in very good condition. There's no reason why it shouldn't be, as it will be within warranty, but you may find a few scuffs or scratches on some of the interior plastics. Few XC70 owners will have subjected their car to any tough off-road antics but it's worth a check to see that the underbody hasn't been damaged by clumsy green laning. The diesel engines mop up miles very well although check the clutch on manual cars as the pedal is easy to ride. Otherwise insist on a full service record and contact a few franchised dealers to try to find the best bargain available.
(approx based on a 2009 XC70 D5) Parts prices are affordable and availability tends to be good. A clutch assembly will be around £250 and an air filter should be close to £18. Brake pads are around £90 a front set, with a water pump relieving you of nearly £170.
On the Road
When this second generation XC70 was launched in 2007, the chassis was comprehensively redesigned, ironing out the old car's vagueness and introducing an element of fun to proceedings. That said, the XC70 is never going to be a poster child of the evo generation, instead campaigning on the basis of all-weather ability and unimpeachable safety. The two launch engines were the Welsh-built 3.2-litre straight-six that punched a healthy 238PS with a maximum torque of 320Nm and the 185PS 2.4-litre D5 turbo diesel with 400Nm of torque. The D5 drives through either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed Geartronic auto with a sequential 'manual' mode, while the 3.2-litre car is offered solely with Geartronic. Later D2, D3 and D4 diesel models will be much cheaper to run though.
Extensive use of high tensile steels improved chassis rigidity in this MK2 design by 15 per cent, allowing the suspension to do its job better. Volvo's DSTC stability and traction control system was fitted as standard and buyers had the option of Four-C electronically-controlled dampers. Hill Descent Control and an electronically-controlled hydraulic clutch, which distributes drive to whichever wheels can best handle it, will help you out of a tight spot. Ground clearance, approach, departure and breakover angles were all improved in MK2 model guise and the wading depth of 300mm should see you through the worst of the winter's storms. There's even an intelligent power parking brake that automatically disengages when the accelerator is pressed.
The second generation Volvo XC70 remains a class act. Tough, reliable, stylish (in its own way) and effortlessly practical, it's exactly what you need to fulfil all of the sensible requirements in life, freeing you up to indulge in something a bit racier on the side. The later 2.0-litre D3 diesels are a smart pick, but even early D5s have a lot going for them. The petrol models might seem so rare as to almost not be worth bothering with, but their thirst has meant that depreciation has taken a big toll and value can be had if you look hard enough and don't cover too many miles.