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U.S.:Road Test: 2004 Volvo V70 R

Draggin' wagon

By Matt Stone
Photography by Brian Vance
Motor Trend, August 2003

Everyone is following BMW M, Ford SVT, and Mercedes-Benz AMG into the factory-offered performance-model game. Volvo is doing the same with its R Line: the S60 R sedan and V70 R sport wagon. The approach is similar to that of other manufacturers: Upgrade engine, handling, and braking performance in well-balanced amounts; add luxury accessories; make it look sporty inside and out; and sell in limited enough quantity to ensure an element of exclusivity.

Volvo has reworked its inline-five-cylinder engine by adding a twin-intercooled KKK turbo, revised engine-management and exhaust systems, and other tweaks. The result is an impressive 300 horsepower from 2.5 liters. Take your choice between a five-speed Geartronic automatic or six-speed manual transmission. R Line Volvos are equipped with standard full-time all-wheel drive, employing a Haldex differential to monitor traction and distribute power front to rear. Besides aggressive 18-inch performance rolling stock, the chassis benefits from driver-adjustable damping (Comfort, Sport, and Advanced settings) and Brembo brakes. Dynamic Stability Traction Control, which is driver-defeatable, and ABS are standard.

While it won't chase down an M3 or Audi S4 (the latter also offered as a wagon) the V70 R really moves the freight. Its slalom speed of 65.9 mph betters non-Z06 Corvettes, and a 114-foot 60-0-mph stopping distance is impressive. These numbers mean that the chassis, AWD, brakes, and tires are working together. The shift linkage is easy and precise, though there's a learning curve with the clutch before you're smooth with it. Acceleration is plenty punchy "once the whistle kicks in," to quote our test driver, though few are fond of the five-banger's less-than-harmonious moan and drone at high rpm. Volvo has achieved an exceptional ride/handling balance here; you give up darned little in the way of ride quality and on-road quiet in exchange for markedly enhanced cornering prowess.

The already-pleasant V70 cabin gets more so: superb sport seats, special R Line leather, blue-finished gauges, and an optional Dolby Pro Logic surround-sound system. We also appreciate the subtle exterior treatment and Bi-Xenon headlights. Hmmm: A 300-horse luxury machine with AWD, room for five, plenty of cargo space, and a 0-60 time of 6.06 seconds. Now that's a vehicle that packs both sport and utility.

2004 Volvo V70 R
Price, base/as-tested $38,325 / $42,505
Vehicle layout Front engine, awd, 4-door, 5-pass wagon
Engine Turbocharged I-5, DOHC, 4 valves/cyl, cast-alum block/head
Displacement, ci/cc 153.8 / 2521
Max horsepower @ rpm 300 @ 5250
Max torque @ rpm 295 @ 1950
Transmission 6-speed manual
Curb weight, lb 3757
0-60 mph, sec 6.06
1/4 mile, sec @ mph 14.43 @ 99.22
Braking, 60-0 mph, ft 114
Skidpad, g 0.87
600-ft slalom, mph 65.9
EPA mpg, city/hwy 18/24
On sale in U.S. Currently

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My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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