YOU could be forgiven for thinking that estate cars had been swept away by a tidal wave of trendy SUVs and crossovers.
Not so, as Volvo can confirm. Although it has in fact done pretty well with its ownthree-way range of high riding XC models, it believes there's still room for the conventional estate ... although the word estate is substituted for the initial V (as in Versatile).
Following up from the large V90 comes the smaller, and definitely more elegant and better proportioned V60 which is pitched against such established all-rounders as the Audi A4 Avant, Mercedes C-Class estate and BMW 3 Series Touring.
Tough rivals but Volvo's somewhat stuffy image has been cast off under Chinese-ownership as have the boxy lines and antique-dealer nature that tended to characterise previous members of its estate car family.
The new V60 is sharply styled with squat, sporty lines that flow better than most rivals despite losing nothing in terms of practicality. The boot can soak up no less than 529 litres of cargo, along with five adult passengers making it the roomiest in class.
Although Volvo has gone on record declaring an end to diesel pòwer by 2019 in its new models after that date, it is expected that the best selling V60 diesel D3 will be its best selling version in UK.
Built on the same platform as the S90 and V90 family and also the XC60 and XC90 it's a pretty smooth rider with absorbent suspension which is nevertheless composed during fast cornering - little sway around bends and a complete absence of harshness even on rutted roads.
Steering is pleasant high geared and not over light. It weights up nicely on bends allowing plenty of road feel. Noise levels are low once you get beyond the usual grumbly diesel start up.
There's a choice between manual six speed gearbox and slick auto which complements the car's relaxed and refined character perfectly.
All versions get two litre power. The D3 diesel knocks out 148bhp, while the D4 diesel produces a lustier 188bhp. The T5 petrol is most powerful with 247bhp. All models are front drive until the all-wheel-drive hybrid joins the range next year.
Three trim levels are available when the first cars go out to customers in September. Prices range from £31,810 to £40,600.
Only the D4 in auto and manual were available to drive at the launch. It's a nifty mover with acceleration to 62mph in under eight seconds, almost a second quicker than the D3.
Both cars are miserly on fuel consumption with emissions of just 117g/km which tallies with around 60mpg combined, and probably the high 40s in everyday use.
Volvo tends to go its own way when it comes to cabin architecture...and it's all the better for it. With natural materials, drift wood inlays a largely button-free fascia me and a huge central touchscreen the driver's ‘office' is a coolly efficient place to be.
Audio sound can be specified by Bowers and Wilkins with 15 speakers. The driver gets a 12.3-inch visual display directly in front of his nose, there's optional four zone air con and voice activated control system.
Throughout the range, the tailgate is electronically activated and operates quickly enough for most. Sensibly, boot dividers are provided to prevent shopping or luggage sliding around. The rear seats fold completely flat, increasing carrying capacity to 1,441 litres.
As you'd expect from Volvo the V60 is packed with safety kit. The firm is understandably proud of the fact that no-one has died in a Volvo since 2004 in a car-to-car collision.
Among these is Steering Support to help the driver steer around an object in an emergency, Oncoming Lane Mitigation which operates between 37-87mph and guides the car back on to the right side of the road if it moves into the path of an oncoming vehicle and Blind Spot Information System.
Built in Gothenburg, the V60 is expected to be one of the best selling models in the Volvo line-up. With good looks, dazzlingly good dynamics and loads of cargo and passenger space it might even attract buyers back from the crossover craze.