FOR anyone thinking that SUVs have taken over the motoring world and the future of the once-popular estate cars was dead and buried, think on because Volvo has something to say about that with the launch of its second generation V60.
It's a premium mid-sized estate car that offers a perfect alternative to buyers in a SUV-saturated market. Boasting a striking Scandinavian design, a wealth of on-board technology, competitive pricing and all the safety innovations you could imagine, the V60 truly is a breath of fresh air.
In fairness, Volvo is on a bit of a roll at the moment with 21 awards so far in 2018, including European Car of the Year for the XC40 and World Car of the Year for the XC60. So, the latest arrival has quite a lot to live up to and it does just that.
Priced from Â£31,810 to Â£40,600, the V60 is available with three initial trim levels called Momentum, R-Design and Inscription - each of which has a higher specced Pro version.
There's also a choice between two diesel and one petrol engine - all 2.0-litre - with further additions such as a hybrid powertrain joining the line-up later on.
Whereas estate cars in bygone days looked like giant boxes on wheels with load-lugging capabilities but very little else to offer, the V60 covers all bases.
It is a very practical option with a boot capacity ranging from 529 litres to 1,441 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat.
In addition, it looks appealing and stylish in its design with sleek streamlining, distinctive lights with the Volvo Thor-hammer LED daytime running lights, neat alloys, a piano black grille with chrome surround, tinted windows, a power-operated tailgate and the option of a panoramic sunroof.
Move inside and the V60 is typically Scandinavian and minimalist in its layout, but there is plenty of classy kit to be explored.
The portrait nine-inch Sensus touchscreen is like a computer tablet and there is a 12.3-inch active digital driver's information display that can be configured according to taste.
Other creature comforts include a Harman Kardon sound system that can be upgraded to a premium Bowers and Wilkins set-up with 15 speakers, all the connectivity systems necessary to link to a smartphone and options such as four-zone climate control, drift wood inlays, ventilated Nappa leather upholstery and plenty more besides.
The V60 is also available with Volvo's Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive technology which combines a forward-facing camera and radar to detect your lane and any other vehicles in front.
It then assists with the steering at speeds up to 80mph to keep the car within the lane. It will brake and accelerate with the flow of traffic and is the perfect system to make life a little easier on long motorway journeys. This forms part of the Intellisafe Pro pack that is a £1,625 option
And being a Volvo, the V60 boasts a whole host of safety features. In fact, a spokesman for the company summed it up perfectly as he claimed: "Safety is core to everything we do."
The technology to protect occupants and pedestrians includes the Volvo City Safety suite of collision avoidance aids such as autonomous emergency braking - this works day or night and detects vehicles, pedestrians, large animals and cyclists in front of the car. It warns the driver if a collision is likely and, if ignored, takes action by applying maximum braking force to avoid the collision or reduce the severity of impact.
Other safety features include run-off road mitigation, steering support to help steer around an obstacle in an emergency, oncoming lane mitigation, blind spot warning and lots more besides.
These systems form part of Volvo's Vision 2020 plan that no-one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by the year 2020.
We tried the V60 on a stunning road route across the North Yorkshire Moors with plenty of long winding bends along with lots of stop/start village driving and it was a pure delight to drive.
We opted for the near-entry level Momentum Pro version powered by a 2.0-litre 190hp diesel engine mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
The car carried a £36,610 price-tag that rose to £43,835 with options fitted. It could sprint from 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds, maxed out at 137mph, and according to official figures, can deliver combined fuel economy of 61.4mpg with carbon emissions of 122g/km.
The V60 is a car that you quickly feel at home in. Comfort levels are first-rate with all the seat and steering wheel adjustment necessary to find the perfect driving position.
The all-round visibility is excellent and all dials, controls and read-outs are well positioned for ease of use.
It feels beautifully refined too with barely a sound from the engine or road surface filtering through into the cabin and the highly effective suspension system smooths out all but the most severe road surfaces.
The acceleration through the automatic gearbox is both smooth and responsive with a constant stream of power on tap to make light work of overtaking.
The road-holding is ultra-grippy and there is no sign of any body lean into bends even when pushed hard.
There are different drive modes settings called Comfort, Eco, Dynamic and Individual that alter the response of the engine, automatic gearbox, suspension, steering, brakes and even the climate control in Eco mode.
All in all, the arrival of the V60 proves there are viable, practical and very attractive options out there for any active family looking for a stylish, feature-rich, reliable and safe car that isn't billed as an SUV or crossover.