BABY number two arrived in my life earlier this summer.
Joining three-year-old Arthur, little Mia - a precious, tiny little thing - came early and reminded me just how important safety is in a choice of car.
Fatherhood changes everything as your number one priority immediately turns into keeping them away from danger. Like it or not, the roads are indeed very dangerous places, with dawdling lane hoggers and idiotic boy racers both vying for the ‘most stupid’ award.
If I cast my mind back to, say, January 2018 before my son arrived, my ideal car would have been manual, small, quick, communicative, have no electronic nannies and be petrol-powered.
A simple hot hatch is my idea of motoring nirvana - it doesn’t have to have a six-figure price tag or crack the 200mph barrier, or indeed get to 60mph in a silly quick time. Involvement has always been the key.
However, the make-up of my ideal day-to-day car now couldn’t be further away from what it was pre-fatherhood. I’d consider a diesel, petrol or a hybrid, it’d have to have a giant boot, have four doors and - shock horror - be an automatic. Modern-day life can be stressful enough, so just slip it into ‘D’ and waft along, please.
This car, the four-wheel-drive V60 in 'Inscription' spec, encapsulates all my new-found motoring necessities because it’s sizeable, it’s automatic, it has acres of boot space, it’s safe and it’s comfortable, just like its wonderful V90 bigger brother. It’s also quick, thanks to it being in 350bhp T6 Recharge guise, and really rather frugal as a result of its plug-in hybridisation which offers more than 50 miles of range.
It’s a looker. The V60 - which is effectively an estate version of the S60 - shares its chiselled face but goes without the saloon’s rear light design, so it’s an improvement on that car through my eyes. Who doesn’t love a Volvo estate, either? They’ve always been far cooler than their saloon counterparts.
Open the door and you’ll find all of Volvo’s quality components, something which actually trickles down through its entire range. Its iPad-like infotainment panel controls everything from its fantastic satellite navigation to the heating controls, but it’s effortlessly smooth and is by far the best system I’ve ever used - something shared among all S, V and XC models.
It’s full of tech and has several stand-out features, including its fantastic 360-degree cameras which enable a bird’s eye view setting to help parking, while its clever headlights are adaptive so change direction through the driver’s steering inputs.
The automatic gearbox is a joy, though, and a great match for the laid-back character. There’s undeniable pace on tap thanks to that 350bhp but it’s a car you don’t ever feel like grabbing by the scruff of the neck, so selecting ‘D’ and wafting along is what it does best.
There’s a nice sense that if you need power it’s there, but the 0-60mph time of under six seconds and 155mph top speed aren’t ever really on your mind despite it being undoubtedly potent.
It too is a class-leading car. It’s everything to everyone, especially in T6 Recharge spec, and combines practicality with accessible performance.