The Volvo Wagon: 10 models that made an icon
The concept of lifestyle probably didn’t exist in 1953 when Volvo launched its first wagon. Yet it was precisely the need to combine active leisure time with a practical, professional life that persuaded Volvo to create what would become one of the most loved models ever – the Duett. It was one of the first Volvos to be exported to the United States, and in 1997 it was immortalised, at least in Scandinavia, when it featured on a Swedish postage stamp.
The 1962 Amazon – or the 221 as it was officially known – was a significantly more elegant and refined wagon than the Duett, which had its origins as a delivery van. It was also more practical, offering increased boot space.
Late 1967 saw the 140 Series become a complete family-car range with the presentation of an important variant: the 145. The design of its rear section has since become a well-known characteristic of all Volvo wagons, while its combination of safety, elegance and space was not only irresistible for wagon enthusiasts but cemented Volvo’s reputation for wagons.
A refresh of the 1800 sports coupe, the 1800 ES was known in England as a Shooting Brake: a sporty wagon with space for hunting gear or golf clubs in the back. The 1800 ES was introduced in the autumn of 1971, and its most exciting feature was possibly the huge rear windscreen that had no bezel whatsoever. Hinges and handles were fixed directly to the glass, which was very modern in the early 1970s. With only approximately 8,000 models built, the 1800 ES has become one of the most sought-after classic Volvo models.
In 1974, the archetypal Volvo wagon was launched: the 245. It remained in production for almost 20 years, until 1993, and is a car still strongly associated with the brand. The 1980s marked the launch of the 245 Turbo edition, the world's first wagon with a turbo engine.
The 700 series, the 740 and 760, meant a giant leap up the prestige-wagon ladder for Volvo. The 1980s was a decade in which it became important to demonstrate an active lifestyle and many wanted to do this in a Volvo wagon.
Volvo called the 850 wagon “a 5-door sporty sedan” when it was launched in 1993, and it reinforced this with the limited edition, 1994-only T5-R variant. With its intense yellow paint job, turbocharged five-cylinder engine and acceleration of 0-100 km/h in 6.9 seconds, the T5-R was a wagon like no other ever seen before. Its successor, the 850R, was even faster. The wagon version of the 850, the first “big” Volvo with front-wheel drive, also made a memorable appearance in the British Touring Car Championship in the early to mid 1990s.
V70 / V70 CROSS COUNTRY
Three generations of Volvo’s V70 wagon started in 1996, when it transformed from the 850 wagon not just with a badge change but also significant updates. The first iteration also introduced an all-wheel-drive performance wagon called the V70 R AWD, while the V70 XC AWD debuted the company’s now-famous XC badge and became an instant success, especially in North America. The 1999 successor brought a distinctive new design, while the 2007 generation was significantly longer and was available with a compact six-cylinder engine.
V60 / V60 CROSS COUNTRY
Sports Wagon was the epithet used for the V60 in 2010. The objective was to design a wagon with a coupe-like silhouette while still including a strong dose of extra space. The V60’s sporty approach has been epitomised by the high-performance Polestar variant introduced in 2014.
The 2016 V90, sharing its SPA architecture with the XC90 SUV and S90 sedan, redefines the large luxury wagon with its handsome aesthetics, spacious and stunningly crafted cabin, and cutting-edge technology. A higher-riding Cross Country variant continues a 20-year heritage of its own.