CROSSOVERS are getting classy as Volvo comes on to the scene with its new - and very upmarket - XC40 compact SUV.
Pitching in against the likes of the BMW X1 and Audi Q3, the new Volvo is not only packed with innovation it also heralds a new approach to motoring from the Swedish car brand.
Share it with family or friends at the touch of a button, buy into it for a fixed monthly fee or use it as a drop off point for your shopping, the XC40 is an SUV that will go beyond the norm.
It's Volvo's third SUV and joins the larger XC60 and XC90 models and will be priced from Â£27,905 for a petrol version or Â£28,965 for a diesel.
What's different is that the XC40 is Volvo's first ‘global' car and it sits on a new small model platform that will be shared with its Chinese parent company Geely.
The XC40 also has a world-first up its sleeve with a high-end audio system from Harman Kardon that features an air ventilated woofer to pump up the bass.
Not content with that, Volvo has made the XC40 a well-proportioned SUV that looks the part, can be had as a 4x4 and drives rather well.
To kick things off when the XC40 arrives next spring will be two fully kitted First Edition models costing from £39,505 for a D4 diesel and £40,005 for a performance oriented T5 petrol.
Eventually, five trim levels will be available with a choice of three petrol and two diesel engines, all 2.0-litre and developing between 150 and 247bhp.
Manual and automatic gearboxes are offered across the range but front-wheel-drive will be available only on the lower powered D3 and T3 versions.
We've just put the XC40 through its paces with the D4 and T5 engines both mated to eight speed auto boxes and with all-wheel-drive.
These two engines are fitted only in higher specification R-Design and Inscription versions of the XC40 priced from £34,850 for the T5 and £34,400 for the diesel and the real difference between the two is going to be down to economy.
Both pull well, the diesel has an edge in mid-range acceleration but overall the T5 is the smoother and slightly quicker at 6.5 seconds 0 to 60 compared to 7.9 seconds. Top seeds are 140mph and 130mph respectively.
Official fuel returns are 40 to the gallon for the T5 with emissions of 164g/km and 56mpg for the diesel with a C02 figure of 133g/km - both respectable for cars with 4x4 set ups and on similar drives we managed to average 30mpg in the petrol and 43 for the diesel.
However, when pushed hard the diesel was noticeably thirstier and closer to 35 to the gallon overall.
With a 12 gallon fuel tank on both versions, real world range is going to be in the region of 400 miles, so not as generous as some.
A sport chassis can be specified with a slightly stiffer ride but the feel in the regular set up is nicely compliant.
Where the XC40 impresses is with the high standard of finish inside and out.
With plenty of concave cuts into the side of the body above sill level and also on the grille it looks a proper SUV - an effect embellished by extra body protection around the wheel arches, under the bumpers and along the sills.
With a two-tone paint option allowing the roof to be finished either in white or black it creates a very distinctive shape.
Inside, the concave theme is continued along the dashboard and into the door linings which not only possess decent sized door bins, are also finished in a carpet-like fabric which extends all the way into the pockets.
Volvo's Sensus touchscreen display has been shrunk down to nine inches to fit the smaller XC model but it still comes with all the functions available on the bigger SUVs which includes sat nav and a 360 degree camera system with a very handy overhead view which helps considerably when manoeuvring in tight spaces.
Other useful features include a 'curry hook' which flips out of the glovebox from which to suspend bags, a wireless phone charger and a rubbish bin in the centre console as well as power outlets and USB connectors front and rear. There's even a Volvo branded cleaning cloth to keep the touchscreen looking tip top and free of finger marks.
Room inside is plentiful and the XC40 is of proper family proportions with a boot that ranges from 460 to 1,336 litres. There's also a clever stowage system for the luggage compartment cover which can slotted into the boot floor if its needed to be removed.
Refinement all round is high order and the First Edition cars will come with the 600W Harman Kardon hi fi as standard. It's a Â£550 option on the others.
As entertainment systems go it is top notch and differentiated from others by the woofer speaker being sited at the top of the bulkhead behind the engine allowing the airflow to sweep back the sound into the cabin where it can be further enhanced for surround-sound effect.
On the safety front the XC40 has all the features that have helped the larger XC models gain a reputation as the safest cars on the road with automated emergency braking on top of a full complement of driver aids such as lane departure and blind spot monitors and rear cross traffic sensors.
There's also adaptive cruise control and Volvo's semi-autonomous drive system which allows the XC40 to control itself while motorway cruising for limited periods.
It may be Volvo's baby SUV but all the features associated with its bigger cousins are included in what must be the class leader when it comes to all-round accomplishment.
That ability extends to driving in harsh conditions and the 4x4 models have an off-road setting in the drive mode selector which gives extra traction in low gears coupled to a ground clearance of almost 8.5 inches.
The XC40 is also the model Volvo has chosen to its new way of acquiring a car. Called Care by Volvo it takes leasing of PCP a stage further and enables drivers to get behind the wheel for a fixed monthly payment.
The scheme will be pioneered within the M25 circle where the XC40 can be had for £629 a month over a two year period which covers tax, insurance and routine maintenance as well as breakdown cover and the use of another Volvo for 14 days each year.
There's no deposit nor mileage restriction and if successful the scheme will be rolled out to other cities. So could a concierge service that includes a car sharing system that works by sending a code to another driver's mobile phone and a personal shopping service where goods can be delivered direct to your boot wherever the car is parked.
Volvo compares the subscription service to a mobile phone contract and sees it as another way of having a car without buying outright.