The Volvo V60 is far removed from the Volvo estates of yesteryear. They were vast Swedish motherships with all the style of an aircraft hangar but a bit more space inside. Driven by people with straw in their hair and porridge in their beards, they were the only cars on the road that actually looked better with every panel bashed in and 200,000 miles on the clock than they did when new. Now look at this glinting, curving, handsome slice of automotive sculpture and consider the journey Volvo has been on during these past few years.

Volvo won’t sell a single example of this new V60 estate to those interested only in an indestructible beast of burden. You’re never going to see one loaded up with trunks to take the little dears back to boarding school, because once they’re on board you’ll do well to get more than their tuck boxes in the load bay. What you will see is V60s being sold to family fashionistas. Should they really abandon their Mercedes, BMWs and Audis for a Volvo? If looks were the only means of measurement, the answer would be a fairly clear “yes” and we’d all be out of a job. As it is, there are some stern tests the new Volvo estate has to pass before we can judge whether it really is as good as it looks.

The V60 gets a vast array of engines: petrol-wise the 1.6 T3 is a 148bhp motor, T4 is also a 1.6 with 177bhp, T5 is a 2.0-litre with 237bhp and T6 is a 3.0-litre with 300bhp. The eco-friendly DRIVe models are 113bhp 1.6s, D3s are 161bhp 2.0s and D5s are 212bhp 2.4s.

There are even more trim levels ;going from top to bottom they are ES, SE, SE Premium, Lux, Lux Premium, R-Design and R-Design Premium. R-Design designates a sportier version, with bigger wheels and bodywork addenda. All-wheel drive is standard only on T6 versions.

Top 5 Compact saloons

  • The Jaguar XE - the big cat's new compact exec
    Jaguar's new four cylinder 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel engine comes with either 161bhp or 178bhp outputs

    Jaguar XE

    1
  • BMW 3 Series saloon
    BMW 3 Series is priced from £24,975

    BMW 3 Series

    2
  • Ford Mondeo Titanium 180PS

    Ford Mondeo

    3
  • The 2015 Audi A4

    Audi A4

    4
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class
    The C-Class shares a lot of its looks with the new S-Class, furthering its desirability

    Mercedes-Benz C-Class

    5

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • 2016 Fiat Tipo Lounge 1.4 T-Jet
    First Drive
    5 May 2016
    The new Fiat Tipo offers a Focus sized car for little more than Fiesta money. We try the turbocharged petrol version in and around Turin
  • First Drive
    5 May 2016
    Peugeot has facelifted its small SUV 2008 for 2016, changing its looks and adding this Puretech 130 GT Line model. We've driven it abroad
  • First Drive
    4 May 2016
    The new Edge SUV is looking to steal sales from BMW and Audi, but has it got enough of an edge to make that happen?
  • First Drive
    3 May 2016
    New entry-level 1.8 TFSI engine takes over from Audi's 2.0 TFSI as the cheapest way into a TT Roadster, but is it necessarily the best choice?
  • First Drive
    3 May 2016
    Audi's SQ7 is silly fast, and makes a silly noise, at a silly price – but contains tech that will prove incredibly influential