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First drive: Volvo XC70 provides rugged charm

Aggressive lines: XC70 has been given a sportier look.

Now roomier and swankier, Volvo’s XC wagon looks even more at home in leafy suburbs

30 Nov 2007

LAUNCHED in Australia this week ahead of its showroom arrival in January, Volvo’s third-generation XC70 all-wheel drive wagon is larger, offers more luxury equipment and looks more like a prestige model than the first-generation version that emerged in 1996.

With the bigger and heavier XC90 SUV still in development back then, the XC70 (or Cross Country, as it was known) had to carry the load as the Swedish brand’s sole entrant in the burgeoning prestige-medium 4WD wagon segment.

This time around, the XC70 will run alongside the XC90 and a forthcoming compact SUV known as the XC60.

Like its predecessor, the XC70 is essentially a modified V70 station wagon that has limited off-road ability, but without the weight and handling concessions typically made with a full-blown SUV.

There are two new engines, including a diesel for the first time, while safety has been improved with standard electronic stability control and specific child safety equipment.

Pricing has risen by $2000 to $58,950 for the base petrol model, while the luxury LE model has risen by $500 to $64,450. The diesel D5 base model kicks off at $60,950, while an LE version starts from $66,950.

Volvo has dispensed with the five-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, replacing it with a new naturally aspirated, transversely-mounted inline six-cylinder powerplant.

The new 3.2-litre features dual camshaft profile-switching on the inlet side, and produces 175kW of power and 320Nm of torque. It requires 95 RON premium-unleaded fuel, although the higher-grade 98 RON is recommended for best performance and optimum fuel consumption.

Compared to the previous petrol model, the fuel consumption figure rises by 0.3L/100km to 11.4L/100km, according to the ADR81/01 test. Meanwhile, the 2.4-litre inline five-cylinder turbo-diesel produces 136kW and a healthy 400Nm of torque. The common-rail diesel has been further developed from other applications with a new electronically-controlled turbo and a further refined injection system.

Fuel consumption for the diesel is much better than its petrol counterpart, coming in at 8.3L/100km.

18 center imageThe official Volvo stopwatch for the 0-100km/h sprint stops at 8.6 seconds for the petrol and 9.9 seconds for the diesel. Both engines are teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission.

The constant AWD set-up, using a Haldex electronically controlled hydraulic clutch, is unchanged. In cruising mode, 95 per cent of torque runs to the front wheels, but when things get slippery it can shoot up to 50 per cent to the rear wheels.

The system also features Hill Descent Control for customers who actually take their XC70s off-road.

ESC was a surprising omission from the previous-generation model, but Volvo has fitted it as standard in the new one.

The company has also added an electronically operated parking brake feature as standard. It can be engaged in situations such as traffic light stops and automatically disengages when the accelerator is pressed.

While it might look less like an off-road model than its predecessor, the new XC70 maintains an almost identical ground clearance of 210mm (up 1mm), while the wading depth remains a shallow 300mm.

The new XC70 is slightly bigger, thanks to the growth of the donor V70 wagon. Overall length has increased by 105mm to 4838mm, width remains the same at 1861mm, while height rises 42mm to 1604mm.

Volvo claims the rear legroom has increased 48mm and the width at shoulder height in the front has increased 30mm. The luggage area volume is up by 55 litres.

The extra steel, as well the addition of more features, has pushed the XC70’s kerb weight up from 1655kg to 1878kg.

The XC70 is still only a five-seater, so those wanting a seven-seater need to look at the XC90.

Volvo has paid a lot of attention to strengthening the side structure of the XC70 in order to protect the occupants in the event of a side impact, utilising higher-strength grades of steel.

The rear seats also feature Volvo’s innovative height-adjustable child booster seats, with specially adjusted force limiting seat belts. Its curtain airbags have been extended by 60mm for greater coverage, while the car retains front and side driver and passenger airbags.

Volvo designers have given the XC70 a more refined look. Grey plastic is still used for the side strips, wheelarches and the rear bumper, but is less prominent at the front.

While the previous version featured a thick grey plastic bumper and grille surround, the new model has a body-coloured grille surround and bumper, with grey plastic sections at each side featuring chrome-ringed foglights.

The new vehicle features larger headlights with curved edges, while the bonnet has a sportier profile with more aggressive lines. Designers have also made a feature of a metal-look sump-guard strip below the front bumper.

Volvo president Frederik Arp said the company wanted the XC70 to have a more upmarket look and feel.

“The all-new XC70 maintains a tough, capable attitude while at the same time growing more comfortable. What is more, our design team has given the car a more elegant, more luxurious look,” he said.

The diesel and petrol XC70 models both feature the same level of specification, leaving room for the luxury LE models for an extra $6000, while a separate Technology Pack is available for those who can afford another $6000.

The entry cars come standard with 17-inch wheels, climate-control air-conditioning, a luggage cover, single-CD sound system, leather seats, electric seat adjustment (driver only), aluminium interior trim strips, cruise control, rear parking sensors, integrated roof-rails and foglights.

Perhaps betraying the fact that the biggest market for the vehicle is the US, it also comes standard with a “hamburger tray and cupholder.” LE models add a sunroof, a power-operated hatch, woodgrain interior trim strips, an electrically adjustable passenger seat, six-stack CD, rain-sensing wipers, and front and rear parking sensors.

The Technology Pack includes satellite navigation, bi-Xenon headlights (with self-cleaning function), Bluetooth phone preparation and a compass integrated in the rear-view mirror.

2008 Volvo XC70 range pricing:
3.2 petrol (a) $58,950
D5 diesel (a) $60,950
3.2 petrol LE (a) $64,450
D5 diesel LE (a) $66,950

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