First drive: 2012 model year Volvo XC70

How many Volvo XC70 owners actually realise just what their cars are capable of? At the launch of the refreshed model in Sweden, Volvo let Autoblog try what many buyers never will - tackle some seriously rough off roading.

Seen by many as simply a jacked-up version of the V70, Volvo was keen to demonstrate just how capable its refreshed model is when the going gets grubby - and its performance was seriously impressive.

Boasting a new D5 diesel unit, which offers 10bhp more than the outgoing five cylinder diesel lump, the 4x4 model tackled rutted, muddy tracks with ease.
On standard road tyres, the XC70 rarely put a foot wrong - only one car was marooned in around a foot of mud, rescued eventually by a quad bike with a winch. But it was certainly the exception.

Check out the 2012 model year XC70 in action with the video below:

Overall, the XC70's refresh is relatively mild. New colours and alloy wheel designs are combined with an updated interior. Standard equipment levels have been upgraded too. Now the City Safety system, which automatically brakes for you up to speeds of 18mph if it detects a crash is imminent, is standard. Stop start is included on the manual too (and will be added to the auto later this year). It helps bring emissions down to 145g/km and return fuel consumption of 50mpg on the combined cycle.

During our short road route the D5 felt punchy thanks to 420Nm of torque and the ride was superb. Inside it is particularly premium and the new "infotainment" system with colour screen, which includes Bluetooth audio streaming, is particularly good to use. There's a Fisher Price feel to the interior with chunky buttons that are easy to use on the move, while the steering is light and visibility excellent.

The slight changes to the XC70 have simply served to improve an already thoroughly impressive package. And as a tool to tackle the harsh winters we've recently been forced to become accustomed to in the UK, it certainly makes a lot of sense.

The model year 2012 version is available to order now, starting at £28,815 on the road.

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