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Volvo XC70


The Volvo XC70 is designed to take an active family from city to country; from highway to roughly formed track, and to do it in comfort and safety

Some cars get on with the job without fanfare or excitement, and if you're a petrolhead that's a problem. You want your heart to beat a little faster when you drive.

It won't after a stint in this XC70 diesel - but your more practical spouse and kids might love it.

It's basically a high-riding version of the V70 wagon, an up market Swedish version of Subaru's Legacy-Outback pairing. But now there's a five-cylinder diesel engine under the bonnet, with a pleasantly-growly engine note.

This isn't the XC90 single-turbo unit; it's the 2.4-litre twin-turbo also available in the XC60 and S80, and it's a goodie.

Forget the 151kW peak power figure, it's the 420Nm of torque you notice, and it's delivered anywhere from 1500 to 3250rpm via a six-speed auto transmission. That's plenty, and on tap over such a wide spread of rpm that you're guaranteed urge when you want it - once the turbo has spooled up. Urge without the fuel bill too. Volvo claims 7.5l/100km. My daily drive is hilly and demanding, yet the car still drank at 8.3l/100km - much less than the 3.2-litre petrol's 11.2l/100km claim.

Not that buyers of an $84,990 four-paw wagon are seeking fuel economy when they purchase. What they want is a classy interior - this one clad in leather, with an unmistakeably Volvo layout and seat comfort.

There are inbuilt booster seats in two of the second-row seats, their headrests fold away when out of use to keep the driver's view clear, and they fold to give a flat, if high load floor that increases luggage capacity from 555 litres, to 1580 (to the top of the seat).

The neatly carpeted boot also features integrated luggage rails - Volvo buyers are safety-conscious and will tie their bags down - and there's a 28-litre under-boot tray to keep your valuables hidden.

It'd stop them rolling around too - necessary for those actually tackling rough roads in this car. There's generous ground clearance, and a Haldex all-wheel-drive system that responds apparently instantly to wheel splip, sending power to whichever tyres have grip.

I took this XC70 over a few unsealed rough roads and farm access-ways, the worst it's likely to see bar wet boat ramps, and it performed admirably. My only reservations were on typically bumpy B-roads where the comfort-oriented suspension mandates a family-friendly approach to the road.

Lift the pace and you'll seen say hello to understeer, though the handling remains predictable and there's plenty of warning you're going too far. To be fair, this isn't a car designed for speed. It's designed to take an active family from city to country; from highway to roughly formed track, and to do it in comfort and safety.

That means leather heated seats and climate control air, park assist and cruise control, whiplash protection and six airbags. But it also means a car that's designed to do a job well, without the quirks that often add character.

See the Volvo XC70 for sale here.

Auto Trader New Zealand