The Volvo S70 is the successor to the Volvo 850 saloon. The exterior styling was handed down from the Volvo 850 but with more rounded edges, a design approach that was becoming a trend with auto manufacturers during the 1990s. The Volvo S70 was first marketed in Europe late in 1996 and was then released in the United States the following year. Classed as a compact executive car, this had a front-engine, front-wheel-drive configuration with a later variant having all-wheel drive.
Exterior changes seemed to be just an upgrade with the redesigned front bumper, the sloping V-shaped hood and body-coloured trims. However, according to Volvo, over 1,800 changes were done to make the S70 more powerful, dynamic, and safer than the model it was replacing. The interior was also redesigned to create a sense of spaciousness and comfort. New front seat height adjustment and better heating were incorporated. The dash and controls integrated the design from their higher-end model C70.
The Volvo S70 saw production from 1996-2000 and eventually stepped aside for its successor, the Volvo S60.
The base model engine was the 2.4L DOHC inline 5-cylinder petrol engine producing 125 kW of power. The T5 version had a 2.3L turbocharged petrol engine that was finely tuned to produce 175 kW. The base and T5 versions were available with either an automatic transmission or a 5-speed manual transmission. The T5 also came with an all-wheel-drive version from 1998 to 2000.
The GLT was a turbocharged version of the base model with an output of 141 kW. The T5 version had a 2.3L turbocharged petrol engine that was finely tuned to produce 175 kW. There was also a 2.0L which produced 101 kW. These options were only available with automatic transmission.
The S70R version was equipped with a more powerful engine derived from the T5 but with a high-pressure turbo. It produced 184kW and a torque of 340 N⋅m at 2,700 rpm. Transmission options were the 5-speed manual and the 4-speed automatic with an all-wheel-drive variant also being offered. The S70R test with a manual transmission was able to do the 0-100 km/h in 6.8 seconds.
Also offered was a modified Audi-sourced 2.5L turbo-diesel engine which produced 103kW. In 1999, the engine management system for this engine was upgraded to comply with emission regulations.
Aside from the mentioned engines, the choices also included a Bi-Fuel B5244SG rated at 106 kW for the years 1998-2000. These fuel offerings were available in Europe and some select countries.
Volvo has always been an innovator of automobile safety equipment and features. Volvo owns the patent for the three-point belt system and introduced the Side Impact Protection System (SIPS) years before.
Improvement of the S70 safety features was incorporated starting in 1998. The B-pillars of the SIPS underwent further upgrades, and the interior received softer padding in this area to give better protection against chest injuries. Some of the upgrades include a new steering column that breaks farther away from the driver in certain types of collision, three-point seatbelts and head restraints for all five seats. Also installed were four airbags. The dashboard airbags used the new two-stage sensors that adjust inflation relative to monitored collision speed and unlock all the doors after deploying the bags.
In 1999, the Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS) was also incorporated to minimize whiplash injuries in an accident. A few other safety features were the installation of child-proof rear door locks, heated rear windows and ambient temperature freeze warning lights. These upgrades also incorporated daytime running lights, rear window LED brake lights, headlights with two internal reflectors giving 10% more light, and four-wheel ABS.
Suspension and Drivability
Volvo’s goal is to bring the best combination of comfort and handling in its vehicles. The Delta-Link rear axle together with shock absorbers and stabilizer bars gave this car one of the best chassis designs during this era. This feature provides the driver with a good sense of road conditions allowing for better reaction to varying situations. The S70 introduced mechanical and safety innovations that have been adopted to become standard features on future vehicles, not only from Volvo but also from other manufacturers.