Introduced in the U.S. for the 1998 model year, the first Volvo S70 sedan and Volvo V70 wagon were updated versions of the Volvo 850. The S70's body style was a more rounded version of the 850.
The six trim levels were: Base, SE, GL, GLT, T5 and R (exclusive to Europe). The exterior has new headlamps and a reshaped hood as well as a rounder front end. The new interior included dual front and side airbags.
New electronic brake modulation helped optimize performance in normal stops. Volvo's traction-control system now included throttle as well as brake intervention. A starter interlock was added to models with a manual gearbox, while automatic transmissions gained "adaptive" shift logic. Immobiliser became standard. Dashboard airbags received new two-stage sensors that matched deployment force to road speed and belt use; they also automatically unlocked doors after the bags triggered.
In the 1999 model year, the Volvo badge was changed. For the 2000 model year (2001 in the U.S.), the S70 model was discontinued and V70 was replaced by a completely new car with same model designation. The newcomer was built on Volvo's new large car platform that is shared by Volvo S80 (the first that was to be available of this series) and Volvo S60. Also, seat-mounted side airbags were modified to improve protection to the head and chest in case of impact. Newly standard was Volvo's WHIPS system, designed to move the front seatbacks and headrests rearward in a rear-end collision, to minimize whiplash. The S70 Base models gained an all-new 5 speed automatic transmission using a synthetic based transmission fluid. The potent engine in the V70 R AWD now was rated 261hp (195kW).