What is it?
The V60 is Volvo's first proper foray into Europe's premium sports estate market, dominated by the BMW 3-series and Audi A4. Volvo estimates that it will sell 50,000 V60s each year, with just 5000 sold outside Europe.
What's it like?
The company calls the V60 a 'sports wagon' and insists that it is meant to look as close to a coupe as possible. In the metal, this is a very handsome and distinctive machine.
The roofline isn't much different in height from the saloon's, but clever shaping at the edges and a very small third side window make the V60 look even more dynamic than the S60.
It also helps the V60's sense of poise that the distinctive ridge along each side of the car does not droop downwards aft of the rear door, as it does on the saloon. And the V60's rear elevation is the best expression yet of the styling theme that was introduced on the XC90 nearly a decade ago.
Volvo says the V60 is the same as the S60 up to the C-pillars, and the light, airy interior is identical to the saloon's, although I'm not convinced that rear leg room hasn’t been slightly compromised in the wagon.
Despite the tucked-in tail, the V60's boot is a very usable 430 litres with the seats up. The rear seat splits 40/20/40 and can be folded to create a totally flat load bay. The back of the front passenger seat folds forward to allow for very long loads.
Decent dynamics are essential in a market dominated by the 3-series, so the S60 and V60 spent 20 weeks on the B-roads of Wiltshire having their damping tuned to cope with the most challenging roadscape in Europe.
Volvo's chassis engineers also made extensive changes to the front end of the EUCD platform (which also underpins the S80, V70 and Ford Mondeo).
Compared with the S80 and V70, the S60 and V60 have a stiffer front subframe, stiffer strut top mounts and bushes, a quicker steering rack and a new steering column that’s twice as rigid.
The first sense the driver gets from behind the V60's wheel is of an immensely stiff and rigid machine. It feels remarkably all of a piece – perhaps even more so than the saloon.
On the motorway, the V60 is planted four square and runs pretty much arrow straight, which is at least partly due to the four-wheel-drive drivetrain of our D5 AWD test car.
This particular V60 is clearly not going to set the roads alight. The 2.4-litre, five-cylinder turbodiesel is powerful, refined and torquey, but it's also a little slow to rev and a tad vocal.
The sporting potential of this V60 is further hampered by the deadening effect of the AWD system and a CO2-conscious automatic 'box that shifts into top gear as often as possible.
That's not to say that the car can't be made to go pretty well. All that work in the UK has given the V60 good body control, and the car's rigid front end allows the driver to place the front wheels with great accuracy in corners.
Should I buy one?
Overall, the V60 looks great, feels extremely well made and has commendable load-carrying potential. The chassis is impressively stable and well damped, too, and it can be pointed with great accuracy.
However, the car's true sporting potential will probably be best experienced with a snappier engine and two-wheel drive.
Volvo V60 D5 AWD
Price: £35,400 (est); Top speed: 143mph; 0-62mph: 7.4sec; Economy: 44.8mpg (combined); CO2: 166g/km; Engine: 5 cyls in line, 2400cc, turbodiesel; Power: 202bhp; Torque: 310lb ft; Gearbox: 6-spd automatic