IT used to be so simple. There was the saloon and there was the estate. You bought the former if you did not need the space and you bought the latter if you did.

These days it’s a lot more complicated. There are saloons that look like coupes, then there are coupes that act like saloons, SUVs that mimic family hatchbacks… and then there’s the sport wagon.

Gone are the boxy five-door interpretations of the boxy four-door saloon staples. In are flowing, boldly styled and curvaceous five-door models that attempt to emulate the sport driving characteristics of the saloons; themselves emulating the driving experience of sports coupes.

Having introduced the highly attractive new S60 saloon, complete with coupe inspired bodywork, Volvo followed it up in typical fashion with an estate version, that’s a sports wagon.

The V60’s interior is more adaptable than many unabashed estates, with a handy 40:20:40 split rear bench that combines with a front passenger seat that can fold completely flat to offer a convenient array of load and people carrying combinations.

Its overall volume is not the greatest in its sector but few owners are likely to routinely be cursing its lack of accommodation.

Unlike a Volvo V70, the V60 will not take care of a house-move single-handed – but it won’t be left wanting when it’s time to shift one of the offspring to campus either.

The V60 is intended to deliver the same characteristics as the S60 saloon on road, and it succeeds with responsive chassis that feels tightly-controlled and is well damped.

The un-estate-like poise is most noticeable when cornering, where body roll is successfully limited and grip remains constant, making the V60 an assured and responsive car to drive quickly, certainly more so than previous similarly-sized Volvo’s.

Attempts have been made to inject some enthusiasm into the steering as well with weighting that can be adjusted – although not on the move in a traditionally safe Volvo manner.

The effect of the system is noticeable, although the steering lacks the feedback of the key rear-wheel drive competitors.

Also worthy of note is the engine technology, including a 1.6-litre turbocharged direct engine unit available in two power outputs badged T3 and T4. With 177bhp, the T4 is the more powerful of the two, and is also available with the sharp Powershift transmission.

Designed to offer a petrol-engine experience with the economy and emissions of a diesel, the unit certainly punches above its capacity in terms of performance.

It works well with the automated gearbox and its linear torque delivery makes for smooth progress, with only a little gruffness taking the edge off of a refined performance.

The V60 is a far cry from Volvo estates of old, but the slick delivery makes it seem as though the Swedish manufacturer has done this many times before.