When's it going?

The all-new estate car will be with us any day now, and is tipped to be the most versatile and biggest estate ever. It is based on Volvo's biggest saloon, the S80, with an 11.5 per cent increase in boot space. The old one, however, was big enough for the family, the dog and some luggage, like all Volvo estates dating back to 1953.

What's good about it?

Estate cars have always been Volvo's speciality, and the V70 was a state-of- the-art load carrier with plenty of clever details. As you would expect, there are masses of room in the load area, and it also has lots of nets and hooks and straps to keep everything in place. A waste bin and an umbrella holder are neat and useful touches, while at the back, there's a useful pop-up worktop.

The V70 was always expensive, but the level of standard equipment is very high, and the choice of engines extensive, from the frugal to the outrageously powerful. The T5 is the outrageous one that will do a maximum and limited 155mph, and get to 60mph in just over six seconds, if you like that sort of thing. Everyone seems to agree that the D5 turbodiesel is smooth and powerful, and it returns just over 40mpg, which is almost the best of all worlds. Noise levels are acceptable – only when the engines are really pushed can they get a bit intrusive. In refinement terms, the suspension is quite smooth over a mix of conditions. Not surprisingly, quality, safety and reliability are unassailable.

What's bad about it?

Not a great deal, really. First, it isn't as big as you would imagine, and serious load-luggers look at the Mercedes E Class these days. It's still pretty massive, though, especially if you start folding seats. Some find the engines a bit noisy when pushed and, obviously, the bigger petrol engines will be very thirsty. Because of that, the rear legroom can be a little tight for really grown-up grown-ups. Despite this being a Volvo, depreciation is worse than for many rival estates from BMW, Mercedes and Audi. And with those marques in mind, despite the V70 being perfectly nice to drive, for the magazine road-tester, the Volvo will never have the poise of its German rivals when driven hard. Who cares, though, when you can get the flat packs on board with ease?

How much?

You don't have to go far to find money off, and Volvo dealers have to clear their forecourts of their old stock so that you can find models such as the D5 Sport on offer. The retail price is steep, at just over £30,000, but Johnsons Cars (01384 848180) had a 150-mile example at £25,500. That was great value and the best I could find. A cheaper SE, which costs £28,800, was at another dealer (Alan Gibson, 0844 826 8578) with just 100 miles, for £27,697, so shop around.

Any snags?

On the whole, the V70 is pretty reliable. There is the odd electrical upset as the immobiliser can flatten batteries. Meanwhile, a rattle from the engine can be a loose exhaust shield, while the diesel injectors may need replacing. There have been a fair number of recalls over the last seven years, and worryingly, many are overheating-related, but don't worry: V70s don't make a habit of catching fire.


Launched: 2000

Engine sizes: 2.0 litre, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 2.4 LPG, 2.4 CNG, 2.4 D, 2.5 D

Performance (2.4): top speed 127mph, 0-60mph 10.5 seconds

Economy: 31.4mpg

Safety: NCAP, */a but based on S60, which has 4 stars

Search for used cars