Volvo: Volvo V70
The answer is the new Volvo V70 – the uncompromising estate.
The new Volvo V70 is built on the same platform as the Volvo S80 saloon. However, the two models have been developed quite separately. In other words, the Volvo V70 is not derived from a saloon, but a new and unique estate - an improvement on today’s Volvo V70 in just about every area.
The challenge consisted of building a car that was the same size as its competitors on the inside but ten centimetres shorter on the outside. Even without these centimetres, the Volvo V70 was to be the safest estate Volvo Car Corporation has ever built, preferably the safest ever built by anyone.
Shortness has its advantages...
There were some major advantages in making the car a few centimetres shorter:
Greater torsional stiffness. This in turn dramatically improves the potential for optimising the chassis for comfort and sportiness alike.
Improved fuel economy. Thanks to the more compact format, the weight could be redistributed. Kilograms that could be shed as a result of the reduction in size were re-allocated in the form of new and better safety solutions and features aimed at improving versatility and flexibility.
However, a few centimetres involve major challenges for the designers.
The relationship between exterior and interior space is a delicate one. In order to create extra interior space without making the car longer, the front of the Volvo V70 was packed together more efficiently. The front bumper is designed to absorb more energy in a shorter distance – in Volvo’s case it is not just a matter of finding space for everything, but also of ensuring that the solution is the most efficient possible.
Technology to make life simpler
At Volvo Cars, the philosophy is that technology is worth having as long as it makes life simpler for the car buyer. This is why the new Volvo V70 incorporate a number of advanced systems that are fully automated – systems based on using modern technology to make the car more comfortable, safer, more entertaining, more practical and less complicated to use.
In order to keep the overall length of the car to a minimum, everything possible has been done to ensure that the bumpers protrude as little as possible. This, in turn, has also resulted in unique solutions. At the front, for example, the radiator is suspended in elastic elements. This means that in a low-speed frontal collision, it can spring backwards without being damaged. Another small detail that is worth noting is that, although the shaft of the tailgate wiper extends slightly beyond the bumper line, it is fitted with a spring to ensure that it yields and ensures that the bumper still takes up any rear-end contact.
Antoher good example is the ABS brakes. The car automatically senses if one or more wheels lose their grip and lock. The braking power is adjusted accordingly. All the driver has to do is press the brake pedal and steer. This means that braking on slippery surfaces – which otherwise only a few expert drivers have full command of – has been simplified into something that every driver can do.
The new Volvo V70 contains several systems that have been designed along the same lines – some are electrical, some are purely mechanical. On the mechanical side, for example, one finds the body and the chassis. The Volvo V70 has a simple and functional MacPherson-type front-suspension solution, while the rear suspension is a sophisticated Multi-link design. Together with the torsionally rigid body, these systems result in a consistent car with predictable handling.
The buyer of a Volvo V70 can choose between two chassi settings: Comfort or Dynamic depending on the engine alternative.
Reliable and consistent - even when heavily laden
It is the interplay between MacPherson, Multi-link and body that is crucial. One inherent problem in five-door cars is torsional stiffness. Volvo Cars’ principle that estates should have a vertical tailgate adds an extra challenge. Sloping it forwards automatically results in greater rigidity, but since it also results in inferior luggage space, we are not prepared to compromise.
Bonding instead of welding
The technical solution for compensating for this in the Volvo V70 is therefore somewhat different. The joins between body panels are normally spot-welded. Volvo Cars has chosen bonding instead. The bonding agent offers several advantages. Unlike spot-welding, the joins are continuous, which gives significantly higher torsional stiffness. Another advantage is that the bonded join steals much less space from areas such as the luggage compartment.
Noise – or, to be more precise, the lack of it – is another aspect that requires special attention in a five-door car. Since the passenger compartment and luggage compartment make up a single large "resonance chamber", special measures must be taken to deal with noise – both to shut it out and to muffle it. In order to achieve the best results, absorbent material have been used, both in the interior and in the body. "We have even created a special "silencer" in the air outlet. When fresh air is pumped into the passenger compartment, the old air must be let out. This is done at the back of the car. In order to prevent noise entering the same way, we have created a labyrinth in which the air passes several absorbent elements which eliminate it," says Jan Vulcan.
Top comfort, pleasant climate and sweet music Top-class comfort is one of the hallmarks of the Volvo V70.
Naturally, the Volvo V70 is fitted with the latest generation of Volvo Cars’ ergonomic seats - elegant and relaxing, with a wide range of adjustment possibilities for maximum comfort even on long journeys. All five seats have three-point inertia-reel belts and head restraints, of course.
The climate and audio units are also of the highest class. The buyer of a new Volvo V70 has several climate units to choose between, with the fully-automatic ECC (Electronic Climate Control) as the most advanced alternative.
When it comes to audio, there are four levels. The top of the line choice is a Dolby Surround® Pro Logic system. The audio units are fitted in the centre console together with the climate unit. The Volvo V70 is also available with a built-in mobile phone.
Smart rear seat
One of the things that distinguishes a good estate from a poor one is the rear seat. It must be comfortable. It must be easy to fold down, either as a whole or in sections. The luggage compartment floor must be flat when the seat is down. It must not be necessary to remove the head restraints and store them elsewhere. One new feature is that the rear seat can be locked into one of two different positions in order to provide a few extra centimetres of luggage space when necessary.
The rear seat of the Volvo V70 has been designed with all this in mind. This is why all three safety belts are integrated in the backrest, as is the safety net. The entire structure is so strong, moreover, that it can withstand the stresses and strains that could arise in the event of an accident.
(24 January 2000)
all photos: Volvo Car Corp.