Getting to meet your hero. It is something that we all dream of doing. However, most everyone knows that it very rarely works out for the best. So was my case with one of my automotive dream heroes, the Volvo V70R. I began lusting for one after seeing a beautiful example come for sale near me when I first started looking for cars. So, when I had enough saved up and this example showed up, I had to jump on it. Boy did I regret it. Nevertheless, here is my review.
(Full Disclosure: Volvo wanted me to drive the V70R so badly they first made my dad get a very nice 2012 S60 T5. This made me really appreciate the Volvo brand. They then made me join Oppo and get this dumb obsession for station wagons. Then, using a time machine, they made sure to first sell a 2000 Volvo V70R to a very nice older gentleman here in Florida. They then made sure it would end up in the wrong hands; first being repossessed. Then ending up in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina. Then getting a rebuilt title. Then being sold to a guy in Florida. Then another guy. Then another guy. Then stolen. Then stolen again to be stripped. Then wrecked. Then written off again. Then bought at auction by a somewhat sketchy Russian dude. Then repaired with the wrong bumper (both in color and model) and some questionable other choices. Then posted it on my local Craigslist for a price I could afford. Then finally making sure I had enough money to get this machine home. To be sure other people could enjoy this car as well, they possessed her with demons and issues galore, forcing me to sell her not even 6 months after purchasing.)
(Second Disclosure: This car has given me quite a few headaches. Just search the tag "Vikkie" to see what I mean. I am going to be attempting to keep this review as bias free as possible because I know for a fact they can't all be like this.)
When new, with all panels matching and aligning properly, this was a rather good looking car. It sits a little lower than the rest of the V70 lineup. Some of them had a spoiler; although I don't know if mine was stolen or simply ordered without it. The front bumper normally would have a small splitter on it. Paired with the 16" graphite finished wheels, it was a very good looking car. It easily could qualify as a sleeper; when it runs.
2000 marked the end of this design; which ran for 6 years as both the 850 and V70. It is simply very clean. There is no real flash to it, which is nice because it lets you blend in very easily. It can be, however, easily described as slightly boring. There are no crazy lines or creases. I prefer the clean look but to many, including friends questioning if I really was a teenager, it looked like "a crappy old man's car".
Volvo has long been known for making some of the best seats in the industry, and this car doesn't disappoint. For being a 2000, it came very well equipped. Dual power seats that go every which way (when they work), a 3 disc CD player (as long as yours isn't stolen), a cassette deck (which is great until it starts blowing fuses), dual zone climate control (which worked surprisingly well), heated seats (super-heated I might add), moonroof (also working perfectly), full trip computer with instant MPG readouts (when it didn't yell DISC at me after going over a little bump), and a lot of other nice little touches.
The seats not only look great with three tone black leather and grey and blue diamond alcantara inserts, but are some of the best to sit in. They are super supportive, adjust to everyone, and hold you in place quite well. All controls are right where they should be and feel right. This car, as large as it is, has virtually no blind spots. The aluminum trim, exclusive to the R, is a nice touch. Sadly there is a lot of plastic which is not holding up too well. So many rattles. Oh, and useless cupholders which pop out of the center armrest which can't hold more than a small water bottle. And poorly designed door panels. On the plus, the blue gauges (which becomes the trend for R and R-Design models later down the road) really look nice and are clear and easy to read.
That sweet sweet turbocharged inline 5. Wow. A decent amount of turbo lag make for driving shenanigans and odd feelings of sportiness. This wagon is no slouch; with zero-sixty times of around 6.5 seconds. During normal driving, you'd never know it was a turbo wagon making over 260 horsepower. Mash that pedal though and the engine (sadly in my case the dash as well) lights up. 2000 model year cars featured a five speed automatic transmission which helped improve acceleration and gas mileage, but more on that later.
Your results may vary here. My brakes were not the best and didn't inspire much confidence. I didn't like the response of the brake pedal and distances seemed kind of long, even on brand new Hankook rubber. The R's supposedly had bigger, better brakes. It is unknown whether or not mine actually had those. 4 wheel discs and ABS helped keep the car rather controlled though. Hell, my 13 Civic still uses drums in the back! I also suffered a seized rear caliper, so under braking I pulled so hard to the right, I'd scare the shit out of anyone traveling next to me.
Good seats are important to have; especially in a car with a racing tuned suspension. You feel every bump. Potholes will kill your back. You will be dodging every imperfection in the road in order to save yourself. However, body roll is rather limited. More on that in the handling section though.
The R comes standard with the Haldex AWD system. When it works (my Volvo's driveshaft fell off while I was driving it, making it FWD) it should keep the car rather planted in the corners. It still understeers; even more so as only FWD. You can't take corners all that fast though because the car just doesn't feel like it could handle that sort of treatment. It drives heavy. Doing a U-Turn takes up quite a bit of road. Under hard acceleration, the torque will try and fight with your intentions of going straight. It isn't the best but it isn't terrible.
GET THE MANUAL! MANUAL! MANUEL! M-A-N-U-A-L! DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT get the automatic. It isn't good. Earlier cars, like the 850R and 98 V70R used a four speed automatic. This was a good transmission. 2000 got an upgrade: a 5 speed automatic. However, it is terrible. Unreliable. Overcomplicated. A bitch to fix. And very prone to breaking. On my 130,000 mile example it hated the 2-3 gear change; and threw a code (P0785) virtually every week. Sometimes, it'd go into limp mode. Other times, the shift would be so rough you'd be flung backwards into your seat. Or, it wouldn't shift at all and you'd be redlining in 2nd gear. Oh, and sometimes, if you are really lucky, you'll chirp the tires in first gear and the car will stall (but only when the ETM decides to act up).
I am not one to preach manual only. I don't believe in that honestly. But in this year, the automatic is just so terrible. I guess when new, it worked. Acceleration improved over the previous model by a couple tenths of a second. Having 5 gears made highway cruising a little quieter. I mean I guess if you avoid the 2-3 shift (or the even more painful 3-2-1 downshift) it isn't too terrible.
I was told that the transmission just needed to be changed in order for it to work a little better. I would've checked the fluid, but Volvo uses a sealed system so there is no dipstick or means for me of checking easily. I told the person who bought it that it could be that simple, or it could need a whole new unit. I would love to know what happened.
As I listed in the interior section of the review, this car has a lot of goodies. It should also have fog lights (my bumper being from a base S70 means it does not) and headlight washers (also, blame the bumper). The mirrors are heated (not even my 13 Civic has that). The sound system is quite good (more in the next section). It was a pricey car when new and all of its features proved it. Although in my case most don't work anymore, the ones that do work do so quite well. It is hard to believe it's a 15 year old car because of everything it has standard.
I'm going to seem very biased here. The main reason I got this car was because of the sound. The turbo 5 just sounds so… unique. It is hard to describe. Around town, you don't hear much of it. But step on it, and you will scare all your passengers and smile so much. Even when the car brought me near tears, I could step on the gas, and, as long as the transmission felt like shifting, could make that noise and grin so much. It really is that special. If you haven't driven a 5 cylinder before, go do so and report back.
The audio system is quite advanced here as well. Speakers are well placed throughout the cabin. Bass was powerful. Sounds were very clear. You will enjoy whatever you like to listen to in this car. It has to get a 10 out of 10 here (but only when they both work; sadly rare in my case).
On one hand, I was able to get a car that did run (most of the time) and was all there (with a few wrong parts) for less than $2000. On the other hand, this car ruined my life. It ruined the trust I had with my family. It nearly stranded me. It required me to pour a lot of time and money into it. It also overloaded my driveway. Because of this, so so so many points have to be taken away. I seriously hated this car and it singlehandedly ruined my car passion. At least I sold it for a small loss.
I'm asked all the time if I ever miss her. Honestly, I do on occasions. When it worked, it was awesomely fun to drive and have. It was a good feeling having something you bought all by yourself with your own money. On the other, it partially ruined me, so I can never forgive it. No, I do not see another P80 Volvo in my future. Hopefully a V60 R Design Polestar in Rebel Blue with a CPO warranty will be someday!
Engine: 2.3 litre turbocharged inline 5
Power: 265 HP at 5,700 RPM/ 258 lb/ft of torque
Transmission: 5 Speed automatic,
0-60 Time: Around 6.3 seconds
Top Speed: Not Specified, Speedometer maxes at 140 MPH
Drivetrain: All Wheel Drive
Curb Weight: 3,278 lbs
Seating: 5 people (7 with rear jump seat)
MPG: 16 city/ 22 highway (Observed around 21 due to FWD)
MSRP: About $40,000 when new in 2000. Bought for $1700.