Volvo has improved the eco-oriented DRIVe versions of its big S80 saloon and V70 estate. According to official figures, these cars now emit just 119g/km of CO2, beating all but a handful small runabouts; that puts them into Vehicle Excise Duty Band C, which means they attract road tax of only £35. Combined cycle fuel consumption improves from 57.7 to 62.8mpg.

Of the cars with which the two Volvos might naturally be compared, only the latest version of BMW's 320d incorporating that company's fuel-saving EfficientDynamics technology, does better, with emissions of just 109g/km, although the S80 and V70 are closer in size, if not price, to the 5 Series than the 3 Series.

Volvo has achieved the improvement – previously the big DRIVe models emitted 129g/km of CO2 - by allowing the alternator to recharge the battery only under low load and by lowering friction on the belt that drives the alternator and air conditioning compressor. A similar modification has already been seen on the Ford Focus ECOnetic, which shares its 1.6 litre diesel engine with the Volvos. Volvo probably has scope to improve the S80 and V70 DRIVe variants even further; they have not so far been fitted with the stop-start technology that has already been incorporated into the eco versions of some other Fords and Volvos using the same engine.

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