From £31,5508

Volvo's reborn estate has a svelte image and upmarket aspirations. How does the V60 stack up against the likes of Mercedes and BMW?

If you fancy a challenge, try understating the transformation Volvo has undergone since it was offloaded by Ford eight years ago.

Under chief designer Thomas Ingenlath, the brand has since unleashed a series of beautiful, powerfully styled concept cars and then followed them up with recognisably related production models.

Volvo’s signature ‘Thor’s hammer’ headlights grab your attention straight away. Could this be one of the best-looking estates on sale? We certainly think so.

Its engineers have developed an economically viable, effective powertrain strategy whereby four-cylinder diesel and petrol engines are adapted to a broad range of mission briefs with the use of supercharging, turbocharging and, increasingly, plug-in hybrid technology.

There are 48V mild hybrids to come in 2019 as Europe adapts to a post-Dieselgate market and plans are currently being put in place to meet ambitious expectations for demand in autonomous technologies and the purchasing of cars through a subscription service.

Now, under the auspices of Chinese multinational Geely, Volvo is a savvy organisation earning record profits and routinely challenging for best in class. It’s a different world from the one in which the marque was quietly admired by those of a certain persuasion for the manner in which a dog-eared 240 GL would dispatch a quarter of a million miles without histrionics.

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So where does the Volvo V60, introduced as an uncharacteristically svelte Volvo estate in 2010 and now in its second generation, fit in?

You might be surprised to learn that profit is not necessarily its primary objective. The market for premium estate cars is, after all, a shrinking one (we’ll let you guess where those in need of family transport are now choosing to put their money), but as a premium brand looking to cement its new-found aspirational charm, it’s one in which it is imperative for Volvo to be regarded among the best.

That means matching, and perhaps exceeding, the likes of the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4 in terms of practicality, desirability and performance. While that’s no mean feat, we suspect many of those lining up the purchase of a mid-sized premium estate would welcome an excuse to go somewhere other than those German marques.

The question is whether this new V60 will allow them to do so without regret.

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