Lots of space on

Volvo journey

Volvo V60, front action
Volvo V60, front static
Volvo V60, side action
Volvo V60, front action 2
Volvo V60, rear action 2
Volvo V60, rear action
Volvo V60, boot 2
Volvo V60, sunroof
Volvo V60, dashboard
Volvo V60, rear seats
Volvo V60, boot 1
Volvo V60, upright static

VOLVO is keen, very keen, to embrace a future where everything is green and everything is safe.

It's not a journey you can take in one giant step, so you aim for everything to fall in place in a mildly distant future - say 2025 - when the air will be clean as a forest clearing in spring and nobody will be badly hurt, let alone suffer something more final, while driving a Volvo.

We are clearly not there yet, although nobody has been killed in an accident in the UK in one of the Volvo's big XC90s since they went on sale in an earlier form in 2004. So the brand already builds very safe cars, with still better to come.

On the green front there's a positively electrical future on the way, starting as soon as next year when every new model line will offer a version with some sort of battery assist, from mild helper to the full monty, with electric only power.

Which may move you to utter one word: diesel. And you might be surprised to learn that the smelly fuel plays an important part in Volvo's future for years ahead. A cleaner and more frugal diesel, of course, but diesel all the same.

Which is why this maker of cool Swedish cars (now with billions of euros backing from its Chinese masters) reckons diesels will be the most popular powerplant for its newest model, the V60, which costs from £31,810 and aims to take the posh estate car battle to the likes of Audi's A4 Avant and the BMW 3 Series Touring.

It might just do that, starting with couple of strong hands; the biggest boot in its class (529 litres with rear seats up, 1,441 with them folded) and handsome lines that whisper elegant Scandi style so strongly you half expect only men called Sven are allowed to drive them.

Longer and wider than the outgoing V60 (and feeling all its 1,916mm width on narrow country lanes), you can choose between two diesel engines (D3 150 and D4 190 horsepower) and a single 250 horsepower petrol engine, with the less powerful D3 diesel the likely most popular choice.

With this engine aboard the V60 manages up to 64.2mpg in the new and tougher economy test and will reach 127mph and hit 62mph in 9.9 seconds, with tailpipe emissions of 117g/km. So, all perfectly respectable figures, if hardly earth shattering.

But like a lot of cars an owner will come to respect and rely on, you sense the real attraction of Volvo ownership lies deeper than mere on-paper figures. Being built safe as a battleship is a good place to start.

Then you climb aboard and discover a driving environment refreshingly less obviously sporty than its German competition, with light surfaces and finely turned alloy lifting the mood.

It is a bit of a given but, yes, the seats are deliciously comfortable and the dash layout - shared in most respects with other current Volvos - is crisply defined and almost entirely touchscreen in operation.

You may find the lack of physical controls for heating a bit of a bind but there's no denying this is a cockpit you will enjoy sitting in long after the delight of first purchase has passed.

You can buy your V60 in one of three versions - Momentum, R-Design and Inscription and all can have high value Pro packs added. Volvo says the R-Design will be the biggest seller, from £35,410 in manual D3 form. Even the least expensive of the newcomers is well equipped as standard, with satellite navigation, powered tailgate, dual zone climate control and 10 speaker sound system.

Move to the R-Design and you add part leather sports seats, paddle shifts if you have the eight-speed auto gearbox, sports suspension, front parking sensors and bigger, 18ins alloy wheels.

Poshest of all, the Inscription comes with full leather upholstery, powered front seats, elegant drift wood interior inlays (much smarter than they sound) and chrome exterior trim.

Add the Pro pack to the cars and goodies include head-up display, keyless entry, handsfree tailgate opening, active bending headlights that help you see round corners and a heated steering wheel.

Whichever version your pocket stretches too, your rear seat passengers will appreciate the newfound legroom thanks to stretching the distance between front and rear wheels and those up ahead will enjoy a seat that makes your average sitting room settee seem lumpy and unformed in comparison.

Out on the road the D4 engine, attached to a smooth shifting automatic gearbox, did its job precisely as expected. So no heroics on the performance front but quiet, calm progress that impressed more with each passing mile. The big wheels sometimes objected mildly to rougher road surfaces but otherwise a pervading calm dominated.

No raised eyebrows at journey's end, with the trip computer showing a wholly praiseworthy 47.6mpg. No wonder diesel will be with us a while longer.

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