Car Review: Volvo - V60  Series 10 (3 stars)

The Volvo V60 is an estate with emphasis on lifestyle - preferably one without much luggage.

Volvo launched its S60 saloon to much fanfare several months before getting round to the estate version - probably to give the saloon a Gladiators-style head start on the assault course. Saloons traditionally don't sell well in this country, so Volvo no doubt expects that the estate version will fly off the proverbial shelf, especially when such cars are what the company is known for.

Not that Volvo would want to hear it called an estate - the title 'sport wagon' is much preferred these days, because sport wagons are not what the company is known for and it rather hopes to change its image to something a little more dynamic. It sort of suits the V60, that sport wagon name, because it's not really much of an estate.

From the side the V60 has much the same silhouette as the Audi A3 sportback, which is a sort of slightly extended version of the traditional A3 hatchback without entering into fusty estate territory. The V60 has swooping lines and a raked rear that seems on first sight to rule out any vigorous furniture moving.

Surprisingly there are only 13 litres more space in the V60's rump than in its little brother the V50. There aren't incredible amounts of legroom either, but conditions are adequate for four-up touring. The quality of materials in the cabin is better than anything seen on a Volvo for a while - the V60 genuinely feels more premium than mainstream and the robust build quality that Volvo prides itself on is also evident.

The driving experience is somewhat muted - the steering is uninvolving, but at least quite accurate in placing the car on the road. It is sharp enough for day-to-day driving, but there is definitely an emphasis here on motorway cruising ability over handling prowess. The sport part of the V60's name does start to look a little shaky based on the evidence of the handling.

There is a reasonable range of engines available for the car, the most interesting of which is a new 1.6-litre petrol unit. Whilst this may sound unfeasibly small for a big car, the turbocharged engine arrives at the height of the downsizing craze sweeping the industry and will achieve 44mpg with respectably low emissions.

The V60 is in many ways a flawed car - it might tempt buyers out of rival cars, but it is barely an estate at all in the traditional Volvo sense of the term.

Volvo V60 StatisticsCar Reviews

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