Don't forget the

appeal of estate


Volvo V60, front
Volvo V60, side
Volvo V60, interior
Volvo V60, rear
Volvo V60, boot
Volvo V60, rear
Volvo V90, front
Volvo V90, side
Volvo V90, rear
Volvo V90, rear
Volvo V90, interior
Volvo V90, rear

IT'S a fact that the motoring world has gone SUV-bonkers with even the likes of performance car makers such as Jaguar, Aston Martin and Bentley developing the high-sided, practical people movers that are big on style and comfort.

But one sector that is often overlooked can offer the same all-round appeal, but with the added incentive of exhilarating driving dynamics - it's the good old estate cars.

And Volvo is one of the best in the world at developing this style of car with decades of know-how under their belt.

Long gone are the days when an estate car looked like an over-sized rectangular box on wheels with about as much finesse or appeal as an overturned washing machine.

These days, with clever design teams and skilled engineering, the modern estate not only ticks all the boxes when it comes to practicality and versatility, but they also come fully loaded with technology and a performance that leaves most SUVs standing.

For example, the ever-popular Volvo V60 in dynamic R-Design trim, powered by a 2.0-litre 300hp petrol engine with 420Nm of pulling power, can complete the 0-62mph dash in just 6.0 seconds and tops out at 112mph.

It isn't cheap though with our car starting life costing £44,590 (an entry-level Momentum model will set you back £34,410). The usual array of optional extras saw the final price creep up to £53,515, but that was for a car that was kitted out with all the latest gizmos and safety kit.

The handling is superb with ultra-grippy road holding through tight bends and, unlike many SUVs, no sign of any body sway no matter how enthusiastically it's pushed into corners. The acceleration through the automatic transmission is rapid and very smooth with drive modes called Eco, Comfort, Individual and Dynamic that alter the way the car behaves. No prizes for guessing which mode is the most fun then!

It's a car that eats up motorway miles for fun so is perfect for business drivers, but also likes to show off its true handling potential through the country lanes. Excellent all-round visibility and perfectly weighted steering are other benefits on this model too.

Creature comforts include the likes of a superb Bowers & Wilkins sound system, the upright Sensus touchscreen infotainment system and, of course, some of the best safety kit in the industry.

And not forgetting that, as an estate car it has a boot capacity that ranges from 529 to 1,441 litres with the rear seats dropped flat.

On the downside, fuel economy is not brilliant with a combined 34.0 to 36.2mpg and carbon emissions 0f 175-186g/km.

But if you want to step up to the next level - size-wise - the V90 could be the ideal vehicle with its load capacity that ranges from 560 litres to 1,526 litres with the rear seats folded down.

This car costing £56,155 (£65,330 with options) was a plug-in hybrid model powered by a 2.0-litre 253hp petrol engine that worked with an 87hp electric motor.

If used for lots of EV-only driving and regularly charged then this car can officially deliver a combined 104.6-134.5mpg with emissions of just 47-62g/km. So already there are huge financial savings for the business owner.

Our model was in the most luxurious trim called Inscription which is far more refined than the aggressively-styled R Design V60 we drove.

Comfort levels are sublime with soft Nappa Leather upholstery and all the technology you could possibly wish for. Smartphones are quickly integrated via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and the panoramic roof lets light flood into the cabin.

Back seat passengers are treated to likes of heated seats and a couple of six footers can stretch out in comfort with bags of head, leg and shoulder space.

Once again, the handling was excellent with the highly effective suspension system smoothing out any bumps and dips along the way and the acceleration through the auto gearbox was nicely timed with a 0-62mph sprint time of just 5.9 seconds and maximum speed of 112mph.

Both cars also featured Volvo's Pilot Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control, although this was an optional extra on the V60 costing £1,600 as part of a Driver assist pack.

The Pilot system is Volvo's semi-autonomous driving technology and it assists with steering up to 80mph and takes care of the braking and accelerating to keep the car within its lane's markings and at the desired cruising speed while slowing down to stay a safe distance behind the car in front.

Both models impressed and act as a clear reminder that despite sales and new models in the SUV sector increasing at a rapid pace, there is still plenty of appeal and demand for the good old estate car.


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