Volvo V60 D3

These days it can be hard for even the keenest anorak-wearing enthusiast to tell cars apart.

The number of models on the market has expanded enormously, while safety regulations and the dictates of aerodynamics, an important factor in fuel consumption, have reduced the scope car-makers have to distinguish their products from the competition in visual terms.

And yet there are still a few cars which are universally recognised. Just about everyone has a picture in their mind of what, say, a Mini, a Beetle, a Land Rover or a Porsche 911 looks like. You just can't buy that sort of recognition, which is why such cars are often reinvented within the same external silhouette, rather than replaced with something completely different.

But another of these wheeled icons is undergoing something of a transformation. We all know what the words "Volvo estate" mean; the problem is that the image they convey is rather a mixed one. Safe, solid and sensible certainly, but boxy, and perhaps boring and barge-like as well.

Volvo is trying to change all that with the new V60, the five-door version of the S60 saloon. When the latest S60 was introduced earlier this year, it was presented as a younger, sportier sort of Volvo, but it is the V60 that represents the greater break with the past. In fact, Volvo describes it as a sport-wagon, a term often applied to a five-door model that emphasises style rather than load-carrying capacity. According to Volvo, the difference between such a car and one of its traditional estates is whether or not you can get a washing machine into it.

And the result of all this effort is pretty impressive; the on-road behaviour of the V60 is similar to that of the S60, which is to say that it is rather sharper and sweeter than what came before. It works particularly well with the smooth, free-revving two-litre, five-cylinder D3 diesel engine option. With its sloping rear roof-line, the V60 looks good too – it's even got curves, a bit of a novelty where Volvo station wagons are concerned.

Volvo hopes that the S60 and V60 will worry the established German brands, but I suspect that their impact will be felt even more strongly closer to home. Groovier cars from Volvo, traditionally the staider of Sweden's two automotive brands, will put the squeeze on poor old Saab as it fights to re-establish itself after escaping General Motors' ownership earlier this year.

Price: from £24,500
Top speed: 136mph
0-60mph: 9.4 seconds
Consumption: 51mpg
CO2 emissions: 144g/km
Best for: cool Swedes
Also worth considering? Audi A4 Avant, BMW 3 Series Touring, Mercedes C Class estate

PROMOTED VIDEO
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Polish Speaking Buying Assistant

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Superb opportunity for a BUYING...

    Recruitment Genius: Support Worker

    £14560 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers personalise...

    Recruitment Genius: Key Account Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A really exciting opportunity has arisen for a...

    Recruitment Genius: Multi Trade Operative

    £22000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An established, family owned de...

    Day In a Page

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project