VOLVO did not used to do sexy. It did practical, and built a reputation for making comfortable, safe cars ideal for longer journeys, but boxed itself into a corner.

In particular, its estate cars became synonymous with the slippers and pipe brigade that cared little for the aesthetics.

But look across the entire range now and you will find more muscular and curvy bodies than in a Love Island bedroom.

A prime example is the V60 estate, particularly in the R-Design specification.

Yes, it still can hold a serious amount of luggage – the boot is the largest of any premium compact estate – and it exudes a sense of wellbeing as soon as you ease into the lovely seats, but attention to detail has also been lavished on its look.

Refined it most certainly is, and the word that springs to mind on first view is sleek.

My test car was the dynamic R-Resign version, which comes with part-leather sports seats, sports suspension, 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels and a high-gloss black exterior trim.

All that comes on top of the entry-level nine-inch vertical touch screen, hammer-like LED daytime running lights, power-operated tailgate, satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control, ten-speaker sound system, rear park assist and choice of drive mode.

And if you specify the Pro form version your V60 comes with a superb head-up display in the windscreen, keyless entry, active bending headlights, a heated steering wheel and heads-free tailgate opening.

There is a price to pay for the new-found sleekness, and that’s the low point of entry and egress. I suspect that one of the main reasons why the XC60 SUV holds sway is the ease in which you can slide into the cabin, whereas the V60 requires a lowering into the seats.

Once installed, both driver and passengers will undoubtedly succumb to its charms as a most refined carriage, generously equipped and a superb example of technology and design coming together in minimalist luxury.

On a motorway cruise, the D4 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine was near-silent. The V60 simply glides, even with the sport suspension of the R-Design. It handles beautifully too, perhaps not as well as the BMW 3 Series Touring, but the light and accurate steering is perfectly suited to a car of significant proportions.

The default drive mode setting is comfort, but if you want to sharpen responses then simply switch to the dynamic mode. There’s also an eco mode that includes a coasting function and you can also create your own individual settings.

The manual gearbox in the tested model was fine, but I suspect that the eight-speed automatic transmission will prove a better seller for a more relaxing drive.

The choice of engines on offer is limited to two diesels – D3 and D4, with the D3 producing 150bhp and the D4 offering 190bhp – and a faster 250bhp T5 petrol. These are being joined by a T8 twin engine plug-in petrol-electric hybrid.

It’s easy to forget that with a car that looks and feels so good, and drives with sublime ease, that it is also laden with the sort of safety features that have become the hallmark of a Volvo car. These include automatic emergency braking, steering support to help you steer round an object in an emergency and oncoming lane mitigation if your vehicle should move from its lane into the path of an oncoming vehicle and the optional pilot assist to take the strain out of motorway or dual carriageway driving.

Looks aside, the V60 remains a practical option for those needing space for passengers and/or luggage. The boot measures 529 litres with the rear seats up, and it takes only a touch of a button to drop the seats and create a cavernous 1,441 litre of space in the back.

Desirable and distinctive, the V60 is expected to be one of Volvo’s best-selling models. That is with plenty of good reasons, because in virtually every area Volvo has created an exceptional estate car.