Our cars update: Volvo V70

  • Posh estate holidays in France
  • Average 30mpg for French trip
  • Sluggish auto gearbox
Car tested: Volvo V70 D5 SE Lux
List price: £31,070
Target prices: £28,974
Run by: John Bradshaw, photographer
Tested for: 10 months/21,000 miles

It's been a busy month for the V70, largely due to colleague Will Nightingale's trip to France.

That's the problem with having a comfortable car with a big boot that's also fairly economical: whenever someone has a long trip planned, they want the keys.

First it was transporting Will and his friend down to Chamonix-Mont-Blanc to climb the highest mountain in Western Europe
(they didn't quite make it to the top).

The Volvo then lugged the two tired climbers with their gear to a more relaxing spot near Bordeaux, this time for a spot of fishing and lazing about in the sun.

Cruise control and a handy kilometres-per-hour digital readout ensured the gendarmerie didn't interrupt the trip – the speed limit on French autoroutes is 130kph (around 81mph).

Cruising on the limit drains a bit more fuel than it would at 70mph in the UK but, considering the rear seats were folded flat and the boot was rammed full with everything from camping gas to bottles of red wine, an average of 29.3mpg for the trip wasn't too shabby.

The Volvo didn't miss a beat, even when someone ran into the back of it in central Paris – thankfully the V70 remained unscarred.

Any complaints? Well, Will did whinge about the sluggish automatic gearbox, which is something I've also moaned about in the past.

Apparently it was a real pain on winding rural roads, downchanging out of corners when there was no need to. Still, manual mode improves matters on country roads, and the auto 'box makes life a lot easier around town.

There's also been the small matter of a first service and a pair of new front tyres. At £302 the service was pretty dear, but it wasn't needed until 18,000 miles. The tyres, however, were an eye-watering £150 each.

It's my own fault for buying them at a main dealer, but a quick check afterwards revealed I'd have saved only around £20 in total (after fitting) by buying online.

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