Volvo XC70 DRIVe
XC70 DRIVe may look like an off-roader, but in the quest to reduce emissions
this model is front-wheel drive only; so does this idea work?
with the economy – 47.1mpg, together with emissions of 159 g/km, is 7mpg and
27g/km better than the four-wheel drive version – although power is also down
at 173bhp compared to 202bhp for the 4×4 variant. The two-wheel drive version
is of course lighter – by 79kg – due to ditching the extra drive mechanicals to
the rear wheels.
are for the 6-speed manual gearbox; the figures for the auto option are less
good – only a 2mpg improvement for the front-wheel drive auto version over the
auto 4×4. And many buyers of this type of car will want an auto ‘box.
However the 2.4-litre
five-cylinder turbodiesel engine, despite having been around for a while, is
smooth and powerful, and feels as if there is still more in reserve. The noise
tends to reinforce the impression of power. It’s not an unpleasant noise, but
it’s certainly not quiet under acceleration.
comes complete with the off-road look thanks to stuck-on plastic bits, and of
course it still retains its ride height, which translates to the commanding
driving position that customers enjoy. Even with only front-wheel drive we took
it across a wet field and lived to tell the tale.
feels like a luxurious place to be, with good levels of equipment, and it comes
with the typical Volvo collection of safety features. Perhaps best of all, it’s
a Volvo estate – which means classic Volvo practicality.
It also has a
comfortable ride that masks out poor road surfaces, and it feels generally
refined. However the comfortable ride predictably translates to a tendency to
feel soft on corners, as per many 4x4s, and this is not helped by the vague
steering. Although it’s not as tall as a ‘proper’ SUV, it still feels high,
which doesn’t add to the feeling of stability through corners.
at £27,995 it’s not cheap, but it’s significantly less than the cheapest
four-wheel drive version, which starts at £31,535.
So it looks
good (if you like the pretend off-road image), it’s got a gutsy engine, the
interior is a nice place to be, and it has a collection of safety features.
So it’s all
good? Well, no, actually. This car has one big problem and the chances are that
you will notice this after only a very short drive. This car has one of the
worst cases of torque steer that we have ever experienced. If you need to
accelerate quickly out of a junction then you’re likely to get wheelspin, then
the car snaking down the road from side-to-side as each of the front wheels
pull it in opposite directions – in first, particularly second, and even in
manufacturer that prides itself on building safe cars, we cannot help but think
that a tendency for the car to pull itself off-course to either side as you
attempt to make direct progress down the road can’t be a particularly safe feature.
Especially for innocent bystanders who you may end up driving over.
car evidently needs four-wheel drive; if you’re going to disconnect the drive
to the rear wheels, please can you add some electronics to stop the torque
steer. We can’t believe it will be too long before Volvo finds a fix to this
So if we’re
saying that this issue is just too much to live with on a supposedly safe
£27,995 car, what other choice would we recommend? Well the Subaru Outback
diesel is a similar size crossover; it’s more economical at 48.7mpg, has lower
emissions at 153g/km CO2, it doesn’t feel soft to drive, it’s cheaper –
starting at £21,495 – it retains its four-wheel drive, and has absolutely no
torque steer. Hooray.
economy extra urban: 57.7 mpg
economy urban: 35.3 mpg
emissions: 159 g/km
rating: VED band G – £150
tax liability (2009/10): 22%
(From £27,995 to £39,695)