We got hold of the Volvo V70 SE Nav to test out for one week and we decided to take the car to the Highlands of Scotland on a journey of over 1,500 miles.
Day – 1 Volvo V70 D3 SE Nav First Impressions
Taking a first look at the car I found the Volvo to have a very understated look and didn’t really stand out much on the road against a lot of the more exciting and up to date competitor’s designs. Taking a look inside the car it looks the same as most of the Volvos in the range, just with a larger interior with greater passenger space. The V70 also has 555-litres of boot space, designed in an easy-to-use square shape with no boot lip.
The car looked ideal to take on my trip from Birmingham up to Inverness and then onto the North Coast 500 road trip, before heading back to Birmingham. I couldn’t wait to put some miles on the car and see how it felt.
Day 2 – Birmingham to Edinburgh
We took an early start at around 5 AM to take on the 400 mile trip up to the South of Scotland to Edinburgh before moving on upwards from there. We spent around seven hours on the motorway simply just traveling up the country. Without a doubt, the Volvo V70 was a hugely comfortable motorway car. The biggest feature that made the journey so much simpler was the adaptive cruise control. This system will keep a set pace from the car in front of you up to a set speed. This means that if the car in front of you slows down the Volvo automatically adjusts the speed to keep a safe distance. This makes a huge difference on such a long journey, and will give you one less thing to worry about.
Other elements that make the car so comfortable include the suspension and the choice of tyre on the car; the car nicely absorbs all the bumps and creates little road noise. Volvo have also managed to create a great sense of isolation from the outside elements when you are inside the car. Sitting on a heated seat kept me cosy for the entire journey – just what you need for a trip around Scotland.
After the four-hour trip to Edinburgh, and a pit stop to take in some of the sights of the city, we headed north to stop for the night in Perth, which was a further hour journey. After an entire day of driving I felt pretty happy with the Volvo and fairly relaxed.
Day 3 – Perth to Inverness
As you may expect the further North we went the colder the weather became, even in September, but that didn’t stop me enjoying my journey. The misty weather just made the scenery look more and more impressive. The trip from Perth to Inverness only took around two hours, which wasn’t too bad and we still had some impressive scenery on the way. I was excited to start our North Coast 500 road trip the following day and I knew that the scenery was only going to get better as we got into the Highlands.
Day 4 – North Coast 500 – Inverness to Wick
Our journey from Inverness to Wick started with another misty morning and some light drizzle, but we were warmly seated in the V70 so couldn’t complain too much.
From our journey so far I had already learnt that Scotland has a lot of castles, which you can stop and take a look at what seems like every turn of the trip. We took the opportunity to take a look at two or three and I may have taken a cheeky picture or two of the car at the same time.
The further north we went the better the roads and the scenery got. You can see from the picture below just how immensely impressive even a normal road looks up there. We spent the entire day travelling 30 minutes at a time and then stopping off to look at some of the local towns, beaches, attractions or just some of the scenery along the way. I was certainly very impressed with Scotland so far.
Day 5 – North Coast 500 Wick to Kylesku
Continuing our journey our first stop for the day was John O’Groats, which I had actually been really looking forward to visiting as you always hear about people travelling to the end of the country and I’m now glad to say that I have seen that well-known signpost too (exciting I know). As with most places like this we learned that the signposted area isn’t actually the most northerly point after all and we took on some smaller roads with the Volvo to make our way to the real northerly point of the country.
At this point in the trip I was still extremely pleased with how the Volvo V70 had been as an exploring kind of car. The electronic boot system helped to make things a lot easier when getting things in and out of the boot on a regular basis; especially when your hands are full.
The day was spent with lots of small stop offs, visiting castles, ruins and looking at some of the most fantastic beaches you could ever imagine. It was hard to believe you were in the UK to look at some of this stuff, but in most cases the weather was a giveaway.
Taking this journey, everywhere you looked you found yourself saying “wow”, I couldn’t believe just how incredible the scenery was. Every corner you turned it just got better and better. And when I saw the scenery you can see in the picture below it blew my mind. I literally pulled the car in at the first available point just to step out and have a better look. You can see the car sits in front of a huge valley with the mountains disappearing into the clouds. The picture is even blessed with a short burst of sun breaking through the clouds. This was really a great moment looking over into the valley feeling very small and insignificant in such beautiful scenery. I think this may be the best picture of the Volvo that I have taken.
We arrived at a small village called Kylesku to find our accommodation for the night looking out over a beautiful loch, an absolutely stunning way to end the day.
Day 6 – North Coast 500 Kylesku to Loch Ness
Back on the road again and covering lots of miles in probably the most remote areas we had seen during the trip. The majority of the journey was done on single-track roads with mountains towering over the valleys. At some points during the trip you could travel for an hour and you might only see one other car, I certainly felt very isolated, but confident in the Volvo to get me through this journey successfully and not leave me stranded.
We travelled for hours and hours taking in the scenery all around us and just enjoying the epic road trip around the Highlands. In some places if the road was removed you could be forgiven for thinking you were on another planet – it was literally like nothing I have seen before.
There were times during his trip that I questioned why I hadn’t done this sooner. There were lots of stunning sights to be seen and 90% of them were all natural beauty that doesn’t cost a penny (outside of getting there) to visit. For someone who enjoys a good drive, and despite some of the scary single-track roads, the journey is just incredible.
That evening we headed over to Loch Ness to get some sleep and prepare for the 450 mile trip back to Birmingham the next day.
Day 7 – Loch Ness to Birmingham
So we completed the North Coast 500 in just 3 days and travelled over 550 miles taking our own little detours and making the most of being able to explore in the V70. And nothing phased the car either, every tight bend, bumpy road, steep hill and even the Scottish weather were no match for the V70. The Volvo did all of this on a single tank of diesel. Bearing in mind that the entire North Coast journey has been up and down hill and through tight stop/start bends I think, as far as economy performance is concerned, it’s a great achievement.
We filled the Volvo up again and hit the road back down to Birmingham. This part of the journey took about nine hours, with around three of those working our way out of central Scotland back to the motorway infrastructure. Even after all the time we had spent in the car, the journey was still very comfortable. Once we arrived back in Birmingham we felt fairly energised and relaxed after taking on such a huge journey, which speaks volumes for the car.
I can’t recommend the road trip enough and would encourage everyone to give it a go even if you don’t fancy doing the whole thing – and if you can do it in a Volvo V70, so much the better!