Accordingly its cars have always been, well, a little dull. And what’s more dull than a station wagon right? No surprises that Volvo prides itself on a good station wagon. But they're just so out of vogue these days it's ridiculous; with the masses favouring SUVs as family vehicles instead.
So the V60 then. A station wagon that Volvo has positioned in its marketing blurb as a 'sports wagon' for people who 'need the versatility of an estate but want the handling of a sports sedan'.
On the outside
To give off that 'sporting' appeal Volvo has had to throw away their rule book for what makes a 'Volvo estate'. Gone are the boxy dimensions and in their place you'll find sleek flowing lines that actually do make the V60 look rather appealing. But that does come at a cost…
On the inside
Together with throwing away the styling rule book, Volvo has thrown away exactly what made a Volvo station wagon so well regarded - space. The boot on the V60 is a mere 430 litres. That's smaller than the equivalent Mercedes C Class Estate. Sacrilege I tell you.
Space aside, you do get a rather pleasant interior. It's very well designed and very Swedish, to use an over-used cliché. I liked it. What's more is that it quashes the notion that Volvo's are fuddy duddy. There's a sophistication and simplicity that is uber cool.
Behind the wheel
This is actually the important bit for Volvo - after all they've come on quite strong with the sports-talk in the marketing material. To start, the 2.5-litre T5 petrol motor is really great. There's 187kW so it'll get along the road at quite a lick if needs be.
Unfortunately that's where it all starts and ends for the V60's sporting pretentions. There's little feel to the steering and the chassis just isn't quite up to the job of coping with the V60 being flung into a corner with any gusto. It may be better than past attempts, but falls short of the Mercedes.
So the Volvo remains a safe, sensible car. And the positive side to that is that the V60 is very relaxing. Gear changes are smooth as silk, the suspension is firm but not bone crushing, and you can just waft along in peace and quiet.
The V60 hits the pricelist at R544,000 which is slightly more than the Mercedes. But those are the only two to choose from, as BMW and Audi have dropped the estate from the 3 and A4 lines respectively. The Volvo has more grunt than the Merc, and more standard features, though.
The V60 falls short of the mark that Volvo set for it. It's just not sporty, plain and simple. But that doesn't mean it's a bad car, in fact quite the opposite. The big downside in my books is the lack of Volvo-practicality. But if you can live with having a smaller-than-it-should-be estate, then the Volvo is a very pleasant one at that.
Engine: 2,497cc five-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Fuel consumption: 8.5l/100km - claimed
Service: Five-year/100,000km maintenance plan