Fleet News

Volvo V70 Bi-Fuel LPG 2.4 SE – 1,180 miles

Volvo

Review

REVIEWS of our new environmentally-friendly Volvo V70 Bi-Fuel are going to split between the car and the living experience of finding and refuelling with liquefied petroleum gas.

From a driving perspective, the V70 is a big, comfortable cruiser with a huge boot and lazy 2.4-litre engine.

The driving position is ergonomically perfect, with a generous and multi-adjustable leather seat, and the impressively solid fit and finish of materials indicate a car whose odometer will go twice round the clock without blinking.

Sombre plastics, black leather and a fuss-free dashboard create a functional cabin that could really do with a sunroof to brighten the atmosphere, especially given the long, long, long roof from dashboard to tailgate.

But at least the gas tank in the spare wheel well leaves uninterrupted the vast boot load area – typically the principal reason for buying the V70.

However, the aerosol tyre repairer that replaces the spare wheel (so you can limp to a fast-fit garage in the event of a puncture) does not fill me with confidence. Out on the road, the V70 proves exceptionally refined, and no matter how many times I have tested a diesel car and written that you lose the clatter soon after start-up, there is still a discernible and pleasant decline in noise delivered by a petrol (or LPG) engine.

However, the sluggish 140bhp Volvo cannot compete with diesels on torque, and while it cruises effortlessly at motorway speeds it's right at the back of the grid for the traffic lights grand prix.

Spirited or sporty performance hardly fit in with the Bi-Fuel spirit of aiding the environment, but my best green credentials have been stretched to breaking point by the lack of refuelling points.

No matter that there are now 1,200 LPG sites in the UK, the only thing that matters to a driver is that the next filling station down the road sells gas. A drive from Peterborough to Gloucestershire saw me run out of gas south of Birmingham on the M42 and not find another refuelling point until Cheltenham.

Likewise, a trip from Peterborough to Southampton, with a planned refuelling stop on the A1, was scuppered when the LPG pump was out of order.

As a result, I have managed to run on gas for about 80% of the time (delaying the payback time on the the additional cost of the engine conversion), and while I have no problems with my local LPG forecourt attendant, I don't particularly want to see him every 240 miles – the range I am achieving from a tank of LPG. By contrast our former diesel-powered Volvo S60 long-termer went for 600 miles between refills.

The only bright side is the £20 cost of a refill – it's like going back to the late 1980s. Now that it makes sense for most company car drivers to pay for their private fuel, this at least sweetens the bitter pill of the inconvenience of finding LPG pumps at regular intervals.

BIK tax charge: (40%) £1,996.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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