The first time I came across the term Station Wagon was in a Hardy Boys flick. At that time, it came across as something inherently unromantic and unadventurous that I couldn’t help wonder how could these flambouyant teenage detective blokes be driving around something as functional as that. We didn’t have many around our part of the world at that time – the good old Ambassador was ‘space personified’ for most Indians while the Fiat was about easy, stylish driving. Later, when I stumbled upon a station wagon, my opinion didn’t drift poles apart.
So, when propositioned by Volvo to drive the XC 70, I would have resembled Archie enduring Ethel’s prom night! But the Polestar XC70 from Volvo turned out to be a different game altogether – here is a station wagon that looks good, drives smooth, acts safe and is enriched with power.
UPSIDE: Mid path between SUV and sporty sedan, Polestar enhanced, Practical cabin features, Safety features as standard, Impressive fuel economy
FLIPSIDE: Low road connect, Some cheap plastics, Concept yet to pick up in this region, Pricey for an estate
THE PRICE: 2013 XC70 T6 SE – AED 174,900 / 2013 XC70 T6 SE Lux – AED 189,900 / 2013 XC70 T6 SE Lux II – AED 194,900
The Volvo XC70 set me comfortably in an excellent driving position and the engine indicated its capability right at the onset. In the 6.5 sec it took to reach 100 kmph, its esteem had already grown as wide as my eyes. The XC70 sounded pretty good with its almost ‘motoring snarl’. But wait… somehow all this doesn’t seem to fit in with a station wagon.
Even as the XC70 delivers 304 hp with a 440 nm thrust, the utility and comfort come across as priority. Yes, there is a sports mode, which you can access by switching off a complicated sounding option called DSTC in the driver menu. But the fact remains that you still can’t treat it like a sports sedan at high speeds. The handling is definitely better than most SUVs; so it is sort of a midway. There is a hill descent control switch, but thankfully no paddle shifts or other sporty gizmos – Volvo is being honest there!
The XC 70 has a lot of surprise value though. It is unusual to see a wagon whizzing past you at autobahn speeds. In passing accelerations, another great trait of the XC 70 comes through; the transmission is smooth and power delivery steady, with no hesitation. As the torque is readily available from low rpms to high mid-cycles, there is no shuffling of gears even while stepping up hard.
The flipside is that there is little road connect. The passenger might thank you for a very smooth ride, but for a driver who expects sporty handling to match the power, this floating feeling isn’t what he ordered!
The Volvo XC 70 uses the frontal sheet metal of the XC 60, just as its T6 engine. It looks more like an SUV from a distance and has black framing, side skirting and highlighting all around it, which could leave you impressed or otherwise. Volvo has tried to jazz up the design by adding a few irregular lines, crisscrossing the aluminum inserts inside the body but that doesn’t do much to the interiors.
Cabin and Controls
The Volvo-style design is reasonably frill-packed and quality-focused, but the cabin is not without an occasional feeling of flimsiness (Read Chinesizing) – like with the press buttons. The good thing about the Volvo XC 70’s layout is that you know where the buttons are. Just as accessible and symmetrical as the console is the way the whole multimedia driver interactive menu is arranged on the 7” screen. Plus, there is a whole book of tutorial that is elaborate yet simple – so you don’t even need a to carry a manual in your glove box.
The interiors are a combination of the brown textured dashboard of the XC 60 and a pale beige leather that wraps the rest of the body, with stitching in the same colour. A bit sedate overall, but for a car that resembles an airport taxi, it essentially hints at the calm comfort in the cabin.
The rear view camera comes with park distance control but the slightly squeezed up image view needed a bit of adjusting to. Volvo offers an informed ride with various screen inputs. According to the trip statistics, the car took 11.1 L per 100kms or 9kms per Litre, which is rather efficient given that it is a powerful car.
The car was all about space at first glance – from the spacious seating for every passenger to the copious area that marks the boot of any station wagon. The attention to detail, like the multifunctional rear armrest, the expansive load holder in the trunk, or the roof rails make it a practical family car, not to mention a comfortable and safe one.
The essential Volvo XC70
It is a hard guess why Volvo would bother to soup up the engine performance of a station wagon. But the answer is quite clear; the Polestar boosted Volvo XC 70 with its All Wheel Drive capability must be here to edify people like me, who would rather be seen in a handcart rather than a station wagon.
For those who think the freedom of driving style is compromised in an SUV, this is a definitive mid-path for both the driver and the car, which provides more than half the utility of an SUV across the country along with the driving comfort of a sedan.
Drive Courtesy: Trading Enterprises / Volvo
Pictures: Sudeep Koshy