With Volvo having produced brilliant SUVs like the XC60 and XC40, it's easy to forget that not too long ago the Swedish carmaker was perhaps best known for large family estates that put a premium on safety.
The V60 sees Volvo going back to its roots, although this isn't some fuddy-duddy estate designed to appeal to geography teachers. Oh no. Since Volvo broke free of Ford's ownership some eight years ago it's thrived under new Chinese owner Geely, and found a new design confidence that's seen the company shed its stuffy image.
Handsome, premium design
The slab-sided designs of the 240GL and 740GL from the 1970s and 80s were already a distant memory, and like many recent Volvos the second-generation V60 sports a sharp, sophisticated look.
Tying the V60 to the rest of Volvo's sleek new range are the 'Thor's Hammer' daytime running lights on the front that lead to a concave grille. The design of the V60 plays it a little safer than the XC40 though, leaving out the baby SUV's distinctive rear pillars and two-tone paint schemes.
While you'd be forgiven for thinking that the XC60 SUV would be the larger vehicle, it's actually the V60 that has the bigger footprint, measuring 4.761m in length compared to the XC60's 4.688m.
This translates to a massive boot with a 529-liter capacity that puts rivals from BMW, Mercedes and Audi in the shade, and even eclipses that of the XC60, which will swallow up 505 liters. If you need even more space, you can fold the rear seats down to increase the capacity to 1441 liters.
Up front, and as we've found with the XC60 and XC40, the V60's cabin is a lovely place to be. It's light and airy, with premium materials ensuring a quality finish. Dominating the center console is Volvo's portrait-orientated 9-inch Sensus touchscreen, through which most of the V60's key controls are accessed.
The Sensus interface is easy to navigate, and responsive, and acts as your gateway to the V60's entertainment, convenience and safety functions. This means the rest of the console is pretty streamlined, with dedicated controls for volume, and the heated windscreen and heated rear screen. Hard-wired controls to adjust the climate control features would be nice though, so you didn't have to rely the on-screen controls.
Traditional analogue dials are replaced by digital instruments on the V60's dashboard, with a large 12.3-inch screen nestled behind the steering wheel. As well as key driving information, the system can display media, phone, navigation and other data. Our Inscription Pro model also had a rather handy heads-up display.
As you'd expect, there are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto options on board, while a 10-speaker system is standard on the V60. If that isn't enough to satisfy you there's also a 14-speaker Harman Kardon option that kicks out 600W, while the car we drove was decked out with a 15-speaker Bowers & Wilkins system that punches out 1100W. The clarity was stunning.
Advanced safety tech
A Volvo estate wouldn't be a Volvo estate without a serious dollop of safety tech, and the V60 is equipped with a host of advanced object-detection and collision-avoidance systems. All V60s feature integrated radar and a forward-facing camera to detect objects in front of you and warn of a potential collision; the safety system will even go so far as to automatically apply the brakes to either avoid or limit the impact should you fail to react in time.
How many times have you had to double-check as you've pulled out to change lanes that nothing was in your blind spot? Our V60 featured Volvo's optional Blind Spot Information System, which as the name suggests will warn you of anything in your blind spot via a beep and a flashing light in the wing mirror on the side where the potential hazard is.
Our V60 was also equipped with Volvo's brilliant semi-autonomous Pilot Assist drive technology. You simply select your desired cruising speed (up to 80mph) and the V60 will take car of the rest. This sees the car using the radar and camera to take control of braking and steering, while you can also set how close you want to travel to the car in front.
While you're still required to keep a hand on the wheel, the V60 will unerringly apply subtle steering inputs as it follows the lane of the highway you're in, while gently braking and accelerating to keep pace with the flow of traffic.
We tested the system out on both a four-lane motorway and windy dual carriageway, and came away incredibly impressed. It's designed to take some of the stress and strain out of driving on major roads, and it left us feeling a lot more refreshed after a good four hours of driving than we would have been otherwise.
On the road
Our V60 featured Volvo's lower-end D3 diesel engine delivering a modest 150bhp; there's also a slightly beefier D4 model available that ups the power to 190bhp. If you fancy a petrol engine, your choice is limited to the 250bhp T5 engine for now, while depending on the model you opt for you get a 6-speed manual or 8-speed auto transmission.
The D3 engine felt a little underpowered to us, with a sedate 0-62mph time of 9.9 seconds. Once it's up to speed on the open road though it happily cruises along, while it's fine trundling around town too – and considering the size of the V60, it doesn't feel like you're having to wrestle a large car around the streets either.
The Volvo V60 is emphatically no stuffy old estate. The elegant styling is complemented by a sumptuous cabin with a Scandi-cool design that oozes class, while there's enough space to easily whisk kids, dogs and all the accompanying paraphernalia around in comfort. Factor in the suite of safety tech on tap to ensure you and your family are kept safe, and this is a compelling choice if you're after a family estate.