Words that you never thought you’d read: “This car is not designed to carry big loads”say Volvo – about a Volvo estate.
What, antiques dealers need not apply? I shouldn’t be too surprised. Volvo started meandering down “sportwagon”alley some years ago, leaving the provision of a proper-sized estate car to, well, just about no one. Even Mercedes-Benz seems to have sacrificed utility to style, and BMW and Audi have never even tried. Where once Volvo had the market to itself, in the days of the “snowplough”240 and the like, nowadays no one seems to want to build a traditional big estate. Curious. Although, to be fair to Volvo, they still make the spacious V70. Anyway, the car certainly lives up the sporty bit of its remit, especially in its all-wheel drive T6 derivative.
Already a handsome beast that artfully takes subtle styling cues from Volvos past, this high-performance version adds a more prominent spoiler “chin”and bigger wheels, as if it had has collagen injections. The suspension is lowered and softened and the stunning wheels suit it well and didn’t detract too much of the ride, considering. Considering, that is, its superb performance and an honourable successor to the boxy Volvo 850 estate that once starred in Touring Car races (but which you could also get a wardrobe into, just to prove you can have space and pace). So what's not to like. Well, for a car from Sweden, the home of fine clean design, the interior is a bit of a jungle. It looks classy, but to claim “the controls are so intuitive that Volvo’s goal was to make reading the instruction manual unnecessary”would be absurd even if they were coherently laid out. So this Volvo is something of a paradox – delighting and disappointing where you’d least expect. If you buy one, skip the £1,280 extra for a “premium pack”and use the spare cash to buy a second-hand 240/740/850 estate, for when you want to shift something more than yourself very, very quickly.
VOLVO V60 T6 R-DESIGN
Price: £ 42,400 as tested (starts at £36,285)
Engine capacity: 2,953cc (straight 6cyl, 24-valve)
Power output (PS @ rpm): 304 @ 5,600rpm
Top speed (mph): 155
0-60 mph (seconds): 5.9
Fuel economy (mpg): 28.5
CO2 emissions (g/km): 23
For speed – BMW 335i M Sport Touring or Audi S4 Avant.
For space – Honda Accord Tourer or Skoda Superb Estate.