Like many relics of the 1980s, the Dudley Moore film 'Crazy People' now appears horribly dated. After all, who could mention an advertising strapline like 'Volvo, boxy but good' nowadays? Yes, they're still good, but as Design Director Peter Horbury likes to joke, Volvo have now thrown away the boxes and kept the toys. No car epitomises this philosophy better than the Volvo V70 estate. Its predecessors were so ugly and dull to drive that they were nicknamed Swedish penalty boxes, whereas the V70 is all swoops, curves and studied elegance. Buying a used example means buying into the legendary reliability without sacrificing style or driver appeal. The best of all worlds? Volvo owners would have you believe so.
Volvo seemed to change the habits of a lifetime, when in January 2000, they launched the Volvo V70 estate. Puzzled motoring writers searched the press launch in vain for traces of an S70 saloon version, but the implacable Swedes from Gothenburg calmly stated that there wasn't one. To the uninformed, the V70 looks like an S80 estate, and indeed it was based on the same modular P2X platform, but it's some 110mm shorter and 30mm narrower overall on a wheelbase shrunk also by 30mm. Not a lot of difference then, but enough to drop their biggest estate one class size by Volvo's measurements. If you want a saloon, you either pay more to bag a Volvo S80 or you downsize to the S60.
Upon launch there were a number of different variants to choose from. Several decent petrol engines are available, the 2.4-litre 140bhp unit carried over from the previous generation V70, as was the 170bhp version of the same engine. The 200bhp 2.4T engine was slightly uprated from the 'old' V70's 193bhp unit, and the 2.3-litre T5 variant, boasting 250bhp needs little introduction, coming from a long line of barking mad Volvo estates. Those after a diesel had a fine 2.5-litre turbocharged unit available.
In June 2000, Volvo introduced the V70 Cross Country all-terrain version, aping the upmarket appeal of the Audi allroad and fitted with the 200bhp 2.4-litre petrol engine. Trim levels started out as base and SE, although in September 2000, the base model was redesignated the S, a policy that was replicated across the V70 range. Conventional 140bhp and 170bhp petrol engines were still available whilst a 163bhp D5 common rail 2.4-litre diesel appeared in summer 2001. The Volvo V70 Cross Country was renamed the XC70 in early 2002 and BiFuel versions of the 140bhp V70 were also offered. In 2003 Volvo launched the V70 R, a performance variant with no less than 300bhp under the bonnet.
In 2004 a significant facelift was wreaked across the range. The key modifications most will notice were a more streamlined bumper and grille set with clear rear lights being fitted to all models. There were changes to interior trim and various snippets of new technology added. T5 also received a 10bhp boost to 260bhp. A further power boost was brought in for the 2006 model year with the D5 diesel given 185bhp. Despite this, the 163bhp engine continued in 2.4D form. Later in 2006, the SE Plus and SE Lux trim levels were introduced and a 178bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine also became available. All models received wing mirrors with integrated indicator lights at this time.