Volvo means “I roll” in Latin, conjugated from “volvere”, in relation to ball bearing. It was registered as a trademark with the intention to be used for a special series of ball bearing, but instead, in 1924, the founders decided to start production on a Swedish car. Their vision for Volvo was to construct a car that could withstand the vigours of Sweden’s cold climate and rough roads. And so Volvo’s twin values of reliability and safety were born. But as time marched on, some serious sex appeal was added to the mix, some rock to the roll as it were. The result has been record-breaking global sales performance in recent years, driven in large part by the award-winning XC60 and four top-of-the-line 90 Series cars. All those impressive safety systems clothed in a sexy skin of soft curves and hard edges.
Still, for all those dizzy design heights, Volvo has not lost sight of its core values. Few car makers can match Volvo Cars’ history and credibility in making well-designed, practical and versatile estate cars. It is somehow fitting then that the new V60 five-door, mid-size premium estate was launched last year in its natural habitat – the driveway of a family home in Stockholm. Because if there is a car that can take on the popularity of the compact SUV and remind modern families of the versatility and practicality of a family estate, the V60 must surely be it.
There are many points to be made here about handling – the V60 is as comfortable to drive in the midst of the school run as it is eating up the kilometres on the open road – but this actually is not at the top of the wish list for most families. Rather more important for the average family are the luxurious interior, increased levels of space, advanced connectivity plus Volvo’s comprehensive list of safety features that come as standard, including advanced driver support systems.
The City Safety with Autobrake technology uses automatic braking and detection systems to assist the driver in avoiding potential collisions, and is the only system on the market to recognise pedestrians, cyclists and large animals. In a world first, City Safety now also engages autobraking to mitigate oncoming collisions. The V60 also includes Pilot Assist System (which supports the driver with steering, acceleration and braking on well-marked roads up to 130km/h), Run-off Road Mitigation, Oncoming Lane Mitigation and other steering assistance systems. The optional Cross Traffic Alert with autobrake further improves safety for people inside and outside the car.
In short, the Volvo V60 is beautiful to look at, inside and out, supremely comfortable, has oodles of space front and back and is one of the safest cars on the market. Whilst the price tag is unashamedely on the premium side, it is considerably less than its comparable German cousins and with just as much, if not more, panache. If any car can encourage the average family to ditch their crossover SUV in favour of an estate, the Volvo V60 must surely be it.
Volvo V60 from €46, 489
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