THEREis a theory doing the rounds that we stand alone in the cosmic bus shelter of the universe and furthermore, the last double-decker has long since departed for the depot.
The argument goes that human life is late to the party and higher intelligences have been and gone, unable despite wit, wisdom and better television programming, to protect their planets from themselves. Based on current history who could argue.
Cockroaches do indeed stand to inherit the earth with the human race unable to adapt to its changing environment or elect leaders who do not see Dr Strangelove as a basis for foreign policy.
On top of that we are a singularly naive and stupid breed.
Take, for instance, the 1980 version of Protect and Survive, your guide to enjoying the nuclear barbeque. There is a page on which it is proposed you avoid the effects of irradiated flash by wearing a hat. From this we can deduce that, had the balloon gone up, Boy George would have been supreme ruler of the ashes.
All this, not the Boy George bit obviously, theorists say has already happened across the cosmos.
A glimmer of light exists, however. It is reasonable to argue that had the little green men enjoyed the benefit of Volvo XC90s they may well still be listening to broadcasts of Karma Chameleon.
The XC90 is, almost certainly, the safest car on the planet. You are in more danger from a pair of carpet slippers than driving one.
All XC90 models have city safe which not only protects pedestrians and cyclist from themselves but provides full collision warning and automatic braking. Run-off road protection also features if look like diverting into the undergrowth unintentionally. Should you wish to take in the countryside the AWD system is surprisingly efficient for what is not primarily an off roader.
An optional safety extras pack adds adaptive cruise control, queue assist lane keeping aid and blind spots alert. £1,500 to you.
Today's supernova is the 225bhp two-litre, four-cylinder eight-speed automatic Inscription version.
Although hardly what you would choose as a sports car the XC90 is capable of quite a lick for one so big. Foot down, the 60mph mark comes up in 7.4 seconds and that's good by any of the sector's standards. In fact by any measure at all.
This performance comes at a cost. Road tax may be a middling £180 but the claimed 49mpg was not confirmed by the car itself with a computer reading of 37mpg.
Frankly, this is not much of a surprise. Should you wish to see what is happening in the third row of seats I would suggest a pair of field glasses. It is a long, long way back and with the last row down massively gifted with cargo capacity. Big is an understatement applied to the XC90.
In the front the switchgear from the old model has been banished, replaced by a centre touch-screen which can be swiped, pinched and zoomed. Graphics are exceptional and it is intuitive to use.
At its starting point the Inscription costs some £50,000 and comes with a long list of luxury goods like leather interior and powered tailgate. Add the optional packs and that rises to £69,000.
Having arrived successfully at your destination via a field or two and some sharp acceleration it may occur that there is more to consider than just personal protection. Your benefit in kind bill for a start.
The D-5 Inscription is seen as a bit of an indulgence and not as green as a hybrid so we now have the option of a £100 tax a month plug-in T8. Which, er, defies the laws of space-time, basically.
Firstly the space. The T8 still allows for a third row of seats making it a first in plug-in vehicles. Normally the battery stash prevents this but Volvo has lined up the power packs down the centre of the car.
As for the time; 60 comes up in 5.3 seconds with an electric motor - which also provides the all-wheel-drive element - added to the petrol engine. 407bhp, than you very much.
The mid-range R-Design costs £63,355 but claims an astonishing 134.5mpg and emissions of 49g/km. Choose the Inscription and the price is fractionally over £64,000 but the tax benefits are massive with full first year write-down and £12,550 corporation tax relief.
Using electric only mode you get less than 30 miles range but as a hybrid the world's your lobster. There are normal, sport and off-road drive settings and charging via a domestic supply takes between three and six hours.
If you want tax effective performance this car has everything to recommend it with comfort and style thrown in - clock the crystal gearshift by Orrefors.
And so we can conclude that there are ways to protect both the environment and ourselves based on a giant sized SUV. Unless, that is, mankind collapses as a species as expounded in my own specialtheory of relativity: if your parents had no children the chances are you won't.