2015 Volvo V70 D4 181hp Geartronic SE Lux review – Well-Rounded Estate Still Proves Its Worth

2015 Volvo V70 D4 SE Lux exterior

Volvo V70?

The V70 is currently Volvo’s largest estate in their lineup, and it’s one that you’ll often see being used by families and antique dealers, thanks to the carry capacity and high level of safety. Is that it though? Is the V70 just a practical, albeit slightly boring, estate, or is there more to the car? We were sent the 2015 Volvo V70 D4 SE Lux to find out…

Exterior. Butt ugly or beauty?

Volvos have a unique look about them, and their designs are instantly recognisable as brand-specific. The V70 is no different. The big horizontal slats across the front grille are Volvo through-and-through, and this particular 2015 V70 adds a more tasty look with chrome edging to both the surround and the aforementioned slats.

2015 Volvo V70 D4 SE Lux grille

I really like the lower grille section of the front bumper, which mimics the upper grille in styling, except this one stretches the full width of the front, and also houses the fog lamps.

The tall, brawny bonnet lines finish things off, providing the V70 with a reassuringly strong, safe appearance that has echoed through the ages of Volvos – something they continue to do. That strength is in line with the rest of the Volvo V70 too. A side-on view makes the V70 look like it’s been hewn from a solid piece of steel, where straight, thick swage lines cut their way along the doors, and a wide shoulder line runs from the front wings to the rear lights.

2015 Volvo V70 D4 SE Lux front light

At the back, yet again you could spot that the V70 is a Volvo from about a mile away. At night. In heavy fog. The upright lights are a dead giveaway, as is the wide boot lid, and somehow even the bumper looks like it belongs only on a Volvo. Strange, but true.

2015 Volvo V70 D4 SE Lux boot lid

The V70 I was sent had a whole host of options added (around £10,000 worth, all told), and it does actually look fairly striking combining the Electric Silver paint and 18 inch Magni wheels (a £700 extra), and they suit the car well. Finish that off with rear tinted windows (£380), and you’ve got a car that looks way more upmarket than your average Ford Mondeo or Vauxhall Insignia estates.

2015 Volvo V70 D4 SE Lux rear

And that’s the thing – the V70 is the type of car that fits in wherever it goes. It’s the kind of understated where you simply can’t tell whether its occupants have wealth or not. It’ll sit just as well on the driveway of an upmarket suburban house, as one that has its own gatehouse.

The Volvo V70 isn’t an entirely boring-looking car, but it also doesn’t set the fuel in my veins racing either. That’s fine though, and I don’t mind admitting that it still gave me a warm feeling inside to see the big solid estate sat outside in all weathers, knowing that it’s as safe as can be, and as reliable as the appearance of the moon.

2015 Volvo V70 D4 SE Lux side view

However, if the 2016 XC90 and S90 are anything to go by, the next generation of Volvo’s models are about to shift up a whole new level in the looks department, and while the V70 is fine as is, I won’t exactly be sad should it adopt that design.

2015 Volvo V70 D4 SE Lux boot lid

Interior. Neat or nothing special?

I’m always impressed by the cabins on modern Volvos, due to their good build quality, styling, and use of quality materials. The V70 cabin is (aside from it being an estate), almost exactly like the Volvo S80‘s, which is no bad thing.

The test car Volvo sent was the highest-spec V70 SE Lux, which included around £10,000 worth of options. Extras for the cabin included heated front seats, heated front windscreen, keyless entry and start, integrated 2-stage child booster cushions in the rear, dark tinted rear windows (£380), Sensus connect with Harmon Kardon sound system (£500) plus a sunroof (£950).

2015 Volvo V70 D4 SE Lux seats

I find that the Volvo’s tend to be fairly priced, considering how well built they are, but when it comes to the interior it’s very easy to start spending on options which you’d think were included on the high spec model: a power passenger seat is £400 extra, front heated seats are £300, a rear park assist camera is a whopping £800. These are the sort of things I’d like as standard on this V70.

Some advice though: if you do want the above extras, check out some of the packs Volvo sell, as they work out much better value. For example; pay £350 and you can buy the Winter Pack which includes Active Bending Lights, a heated front windscreen and heated front seats – a bargain when the heated seats alone are three hundred pounds extra normally.

2015 Volvo V70 centre console

Step inside the V70 wagon, and you’re struck by how nicely styled the interior is. The centre console is edged with beautiful satin-finished trim, and every button and knob presses or turns with such positivity that you can’t help feeling there’s much care and attention gone into almost every aspect of the V70’s cabin.

The steering wheel is just the right diameter, and is extremely comfortable, which may sound  like a strange thing to point out but if you used it, you’d know what I mean. The 11 controls on it are clearly marked and user-friendly – exactly how those controls should be. The aforementioned ‘floating’ centre console looks great, but as I mention in our other Volvo reviews there are too many buttons on it and to a large degree it goes against Volvo’s push for having the safest cars on the road as it can be distracting finding what you want.

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Back onto positive stuff, and the infotainment screen combines super-sharp, contemporary graphics with intuitive menus and a simple, yet brilliant idea: a digital car user-manual. Why is this not on more cars? The instrument panel features mainly digital gauges and info screens, which are well laid out and highly readable, and they’re also customisable too.

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The SE Lux version gets Volvo’s Active TFT Crystal Driver’s Information Display, and it’s a really nice bit of kit to have. The dial displays are completely digital, and there are three different configurations to choose from too; Elegance, Eco and Performance, which change the colours and what information is displayed.

On each display mode, you can also chose to have the average fuel consumption or real-time fuel consumption displayed, or to just have the rev counter or temperature gauge (depending on which setting you have) fill the outer edges fully instead. In the centre of the dials is a digital display for things like the cruise control setting, warning indications and more. It’s one of the best dial designs I’ve seen in a car to date, and it is without a doubt impressive.

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The optional £500 Sensus Connect system uses the 7-inch display, allowing you to connect to the internet and then to apps, which then allows you to be able to find restaurants, book parking, get music streaming services and more, and Volvo states that it’s ready for upcoming cloud and web-based infotainment features too.

With the Sensus Connect you also get the Premium Sound by Harman Kardon system, which uses up to 12 speakers, includes a 5 x 130-watt digital amplifier and long-throw 165mm bass loudspeakers. I like a great sound system, and the HK one is particularly nice, and if you’re into your music it’s well worth shelling out the extra money.

2015 Volvo V70 front of cabin

Slide into either of the superb-looking front seats and you’ll let out a sigh of contentment. The leather is supple, and they are exceptionally comfortable and wide, yet supportive at the same time. If you’ve optioned the heated front seats, on a cold winter’s day they’re as appealing and cozy as settling into a deep armchair at home.

The rear seats are also wonderfully comfortable, and you sink into them in a very satisfactory way. The backrest is reclined at an almost perfect angle, and any passengers had nothing but positivity for them. Personally, I’d option the heated rear seats (£285), just to make things even more pleasant for my passengers. Thoughtfully, there are variable air vents in each B pillar, which may seem like a small point, but it goes a long way to making the journey a more enjoyable one for those in the back.

2015 Volvo V70 rear seats

Volvo estates are of course famous for their boot space, and as such are a favourite with both families and antique dealers. The V70 is currently the largest of the Volvo estates (although a V90 may be in the pipeline), and with it you get some cool features, such as a cargo net which retracts neatly into the rear seats, so there’s no need to find space to stow it, and the seats themselves fold completely flat.

2015 Volvo V70 boot space

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So, as you’d expect the room is massive, with up to 840 litres behind the rear seats, and up to 1,600 with them flat. On top of that, there’s also a super-handy 46 litres (28 if you have the spare wheel option) of under-floor volume for stowing bit and pieces you don’t want on view. There’s also the ever-useful flip-up board which has hooks and heavy-duty elastic banding to hold shopping in place and stop it from flying all over the boot. A great feature.

2015 Volvo V70 seats folded

All said though, I still really like the V70 inside. It’s clearly high quality throughout, both with the materials and build standard, and even though it’s maybe not as modern-looking as some of the other executive models out there, it’s nicely styled and there’s a degree of character about it too. I believe it’d benefit from a touchscreen and doing away with a lot of the button on the floating console, but with the 2016 XC90 and S90 having that, it’s already begun to change.

Engine & transmission

Since 2014, Volvo’s have started to go over to their new Drive-E engines. From now on, petrol and diesel engines will be the latest two-litre, 4-cylinder units. Two engines will replace the current eight available, but they will obviously also be available with more or less power. If you’re fearing tinny, gutless engines, fear not, as Volvo reckon the supercharged and turbocharged petrol engine will be available with V8-like power, and it’ll also feel like a big naturally-aspirated engine. The diesels are also twin-turbo so there’ll be a heaps of smooth torque available too. Drive-E diesels will range from 120 to 230 horsepower, and petrol versions will start at 140 hp and go all the way up to 300+ bhp.

The new D4 diesel engine features world-first i-ART technology that helps to cut fuel consumption. With pressure feedback from each fuel injector instead of using a traditional single pressure sensor in the common rail, i-ART makes it possible to continuously monitor and adapt fuel injection per combustion in each of the four cylinders. The new 4-cylinder engines will be 50 kilograms lighter than a V6, and smaller too, whilst providing big power and torque throughout the rev range.

From the ground up, the 2014 onwards Drive-E engines (built at Volvo Car Group’s engine plant in Skövde, Sweden) are prepared for future electrification from the start. Key components, such as the Integrated Starter Generator, can be connected easily – and the compact size of the four-cylinder engines means that the electric motor can be fitted in the front or rear of the vehicle. The battery pack will be located in the centre of the car.

2015 Volvo V70 D4 engine

There’s also a new 8-speed gearbox available, and it’s a clever thing too. Above 40 mph (65 km/h) ‘Eco Coast’ mode kicks in, disconnecting the engine brake and allowing coasting. Less resistance means better economy, and not having to accelerate back up to speed as much as before. The V70 comes with two types of diesel engines: D3 (150hp) & D4 (181hp), which are both 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel units.

The V70 I was sent had the D4 diesel with the 8-speed Geartronic ‘box, and the car is driven through the front wheels. Power is 181 hp at 4,250 rpm and 295 lb ft (400 Nm) of torque at 1,700 – 2,500 rpm. 0 – 60 mph is completed in a respectful 8.1 seconds and it’ll go on to 137 mph v max.

Fuel economy (UK mpg) stats are: urban: 53.5, extra urban: 68.7, combined: 62.8. CO2 emissions are an impressively low 117 g/km , which equates to just £30 vehicle tax per year here in the UK currently (Dec. ’15). Real-life stats showed the V70 D4 Geartronic was easily achieving 50 – 55 mpg on a motorway run, and around 37 mpg in heavy rush-hour city traffic.

Read to roll? Let’s drive!

If the Volvo V70 D4 provided anything less than a decently refined ride and drive, I would be disappointed. It is, after all, a car which is designed to carry its passengers (and lots of cargo) in the comfortable surroundings of an airy and reassuringly safe cabin.

2015 Volvo V70 D4 SE Lux drive

Thankfully, I am not disappointed. The V70 is the sort of car you drive for hours, and get out at the end of your journey almost as comfortable as when it began. There are words to that effect on the Volvo website, but they are in fact correct to state that, as I found out.

If there’s one specific thing that I like with Volvos, it is that the cabin feels homely and welcoming. With the damp chill of Autumn descending, slipping into the soft, deep leather seating of the V70, then watching the pleasant Elegance graphics light up the instrument display as the D4 fires into life, before pushing the heated seat button and feeling the warmth come through, gives one a relaxed frame of mind. It is a very de-stressing car to be in, for both the driver and passengers.

 2015 Volvo V70 D4 SE Lux driving

The V70 is indeed a safe car, and as standard boasts technology and equipment such as City Safety, which senses potential collisions (active from 2 to 31mph) and can activate the brakes automatically should you not brake in time, SIPS (Side Impact Protection System), dual-stage driver and passenger airbags, plus Dual Chamber SIPS airbags, curtain airbags, front seats whiplash protection, ABS, EBA (Emergency Brake Assist) and DSTC (Dynamic Stability and Traction Control).

Should you want more peace of mind, there are options to do so. My V70 test car was fitted with the £1,565 Driver Support Pack, which includes Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake, Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, Adaptive Cruse Control (ACC) and Distance Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Driver Alert Control (DAC) with Active High Beam, amongst other features. Well worth the cost.

While we are on that, the adaptive cruise control on Volvos is simply excellent, and allows you to relax even further on a long drive. I like the Volvo system because it’s not overly fussy with the distances to the car in front before it’ll slow, it is smooth in both deceleration and acceleration when it does react, and in heavy stop-start traffic, you can simply press a button on the steering wheel, and it will keep up with the traffic one moving from a stop.

2015 Volvo V70 D4 SE Lux paddle shifters

Driving through the front wheels, the V70 handles itself with surprisingly good composure down winding back roads, especially for a car with a running weight of 1,854 kilograms (4,087 lbs). The D4 181hp engine responds well to throttle inputs in a smooth manner, and pulls the car along in a satisfyingly powerful way. Certainly. it does not want for torque either, and low-down grunt allows initial take-off or acceleration from cruising speeds upwards to flow strongly, whilst power delivery higher up in the rev range doesn’t peter out too quickly either.

The 8-speed Geartronic transmission (only available with the D4 engine) can’t be faulted, as changes are slick and unruffled under both slow urban and hard acceleration conditions.

2015 Volvo V70 D4 SE Lux auto gear shifter

Around town, the V70’s suspension soaks up those annoying low-speed jarring bumps and road imperfects nicely, and flows over – rather than crashing in and out of – potholes. The thickly-padded seats also help with this, and should you suffer with a bad back, the Volvo is certainly one to look at.

Motorway cruising is undertaken with utter ease, and the V70 feels made for long-distance, cross-continent hauls. At speeds of around seventy to eighty miles per hour the engine feels relaxed thanks to the eight-speed gearbox lowering the rpm, and also allowing for a decent fuel economy return.

2015 Volvo V70 D4 SE Lux on the road

However, I did notice that the V70 wasn’t as quiet as I would have liked at the speeds mentioned above, as there was slightly more tyre/road noise apparent than there should be for a car like this. Volvo state that the “V70 can be fitted with expressive 19-inch wheels without loss of comfort“. That may be true, but I believe the wider width of the 18 and 19 inch tyres will have a bearing on noise, so the 17” versions may be quieter.

Whilst I say it wasn’t as quiet as I’d have liked, this doesn’t mean it is annoyingly noisy or loud, in any way. It is just that with such a refined cabin and ride, there is some room for improvement in this department.

2015 Volvo V70 D4 SE Lux on the road

Even when slowing quickly for an unexpected reason, the V70 estate gives plenty of confidence thanks to its powerful and responsive brakes, and I imagine these will be perfect should you want to tow anything. On that, the V70 with the D4 engine has an impressive 1,800 kg (3,968 lbs) braked towing capacity, in case you wanted to know.

Overall then, the Volvo V70 drives and rides as well as I expected it to, and there’s very little to complain about, save for the fact I noticed it was slightly more noisy than expected at higher motorway speeds.

Price

(Figures correct Dec. 2015) The Volvo V70 is priced from £26,195 to £40,035. As tested, the SE Lux is normally £33,750 but with options including the D4 181bhp engine and Geartronic transmission, plus a whole host of other boxes ticked, it came out at just over £44,000.

Rivals at those prices include the Audi A4 Avant, Volkswagen Passat Estate, Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate, Jaguar XF estate, BMW 5 Series Touring.

Volvo V70 D4 181hp Geartronic SE Lux verdict & score

The V70 is about as quintessential a Volvo as you can buy – cavernous boot space, a comfortable and practical cabin, decently powerful and economical engine, plus a strong, safe place to be. Yes, it has improvements that need taking care of, but there really aren’t that many, and they’re slight.

The cabin isn’t quite outdated yet, but another year or so will see it need a definite overhaul to help it keep up with rivals. With the new XC90 and S90 doing just that though, it’s not going to be an issue for Volvo as they head into a new era for the marque.

That’s not to say the current 2015 V70 isn’t worth buying – it still is. This is an estate you can feel at home in, and something that will ease the stress of a hard day at work, or take you and the family across to France on holiday with a ton of gear packed in that big boot. The Volvo V70 could be classed as a little dull perhaps, but I genuinely wouldn’t care when it’s as well-rounded as this…

Do you own a Volvo V70, or have questions about it? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below! Read more of our Volvo reviews here.

Exterior  7.5
Interior  7.5
Engine  8
Gearbox  8
Price  7.5
Handling  7.5
Ride  8.5
Overall Score  8.0 / 10 

Specs

Model (as tested)  2015 Volvo V70 D4 181hp Geartronic SE Lux
Spec includes  See website for details
Options you should spec  Driver Support Pack: £1,565, 17″ alloy wheels (less road noise),
The Competition  Audi A4 Avant, Volkswagen Passat Estate, Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate, Jaguar XF estate, BMW 5 Series Touring.
Price  (Dec. ’15) £26,195 to £40,035. As tested: £44,060 with options
Engine  2.0 litre, 4-cylinder (inline) turbo-charged
Power, Torque  Power: 181 hp at 4,250 rpm | Torque: 295 lb ft (400 Nm) of torque @ 1,700 – 2,500 rpm
Drive, Transmission (as tested)  Front wheel drive | 8-speed Geartronic (auto)
Boot capacity  Behind 2nd row (to roof): 840 litres | Seats folded: 1,600 litres
Top Speed, 0 – 60 mph, Euro NCAP  Max speed: 137 mph | 0 – 62 mph: 8.1 seconds | Euro NCAP rating: 5/5 stars
Fuel economy (UK mpg), CO2  Urban: 53.5, Extra urban: 68.7, Combined: 62.8| CO2: 117 g/km
Weight (Min. kerb) 1,811 kilos (3,992 lbs)
Websites  Volvo UK, Volvo USA, Volvo global

Words: Chris Davies | Photography: Chris Davies, Matthew Davies, some Volvo media images of interior seating

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