When you see it you sense that there is something very different about the new Volvo sedan. This is a car that retains everything that we would expect to find yet executes its philosophy and conveys its heritage in a more pleasing way than its predecessor. The new Volvo S70 incorporates the Swedish car maker’s new styling initiatives but you must pay close attention to see it. It looks allot like the very popular 850 that it replaces so it comes as a bit of a surprise to find that that over 1800 changes have been made to the car including all new sheet metal panels. Anyone who has seen the new Volvo C70 Coupe, due to arrive in showrooms this fall, will conclude that the top brass at head office must have given stylists and designers a free hand in bringing to market a more emotional Volvo. The S70 (designation for Sedan) captures some of that emotional appeal while remaining a little more true to the core values that have made Volvos outstanding cars. It is a little rounder in the flanks, sports colour keyed trim all around, and has a softer, more inviting interior, yet the car has been structurally enhanced to improve, ride, handling and most importantly safety.
Where I most noticed the change was in the cabin. The dashboard and side door panels have lost their severe square lines. Controls have been somewhat simplified and now have a dark gray matting that is unique. The seats themselves have been redesigned and contour the human form nicely. While it’s a well executed interior, it is here that the new Volvo may suffer a bit of an identity crisis.
Available in three different variations, the S70 comes equipped with a standard a 5 cylinder engine that produces 168 hp. Moving upscale to the GLT provides low pressure turbo charging, boosting power to 190 hp. My test car was a top of the line T5 which is fitted with an intercooled turbo system. Here the numbers become really impressive with 240 hp delivered @ 5,100 rpm and 243 lb./ft. of torque @ 2,700 rpm. The intercooled unit is silky smooth and delivers power instantaneously throughout its powerband. For those who really live on the wild side of the Volvo cult, the T5 can be equipped with a five speed manual, turning the modest S70 into a world class athlete.
When driving the T5, one detects a sense of purpose about this car. It reminds you that you can be both a family person focused on the values of safety and stability as well as a free spirit enjoying the interaction of man, machine and the road. MacPherson struts upfront and Volvo’s patented Delta-Link semi-independent rear suspension provide an excellent ride with precise control. I did feel that the car may have dipped a little too much in hard cornering, creating a little bit of oversteer and leaving me questioning just how far I wanted to push it. Remember though, the S70 is built, not necessarily for the enthusiast but as a car you can live with and enjoy day to day.