VOLVO has been turning out cars that sit as a sort of halfway house between a conventional estate car and an SUV since the late 1990s, having got the ball rolling with the V70 Cross Country.
Once upon a time such cars were collectively known as crossovers - before the term got hijacked to refer to the abundance of scaled-down SUVs that now seem to entirely dominate the family car market.
One might wonder what's the point of a car like the V60 Cross Country, which could be described as neither one thing or another but that would be overlooking quite a few attractions of such alternative estate cars.
First there's the styling. With their jacked-up suspension and chunky body cladding cars such as the V60 Cross Country actually look rather good.
Rugged and purposeful there's an undoubted allure but it's something that's easily achieved from a design point of view.
You get black mouldings around the wheel arches and they also run along the sills.
There are also striking silver skid plates front and rear below the bumpers.
Then there's gloss black window trim and door mirrors, a specially designed front grille and unique alloys.
These combine to great effect and when one factors in the V60s curvy profile that's a world away from the traditional boxy estate design blueprint it makes for a vehicle that is distinctly stylish.
The elevated ride height is part of the impressive overall visual effect too and the V60 Cross Country boasts an additional 65mm of ground clearance over standard V60 estate models.
While it's hardly the kind of added height designed for extreme mud-plugging it does give the vehicle real off-road capabilities if it's a four-wheel drive version should you want or need them.
On the inside the V60 boasts a comfortable and classy cabin with instrumentation that's well laid-out and easy to navigate your way around.
Its defining character is perhaps Volvo's ‘floating' centre stack, which has been around for some time now yet still looks innovative and modern.
About the only criticism that could be levelled at it is that the sloping roofline means headroom in the rear is slightly curtailed, yet four adults can still travel in reasonable comfort.
While it isn't the most cavernous of estate cars the boot is roomy enough at 557 litres.
There are just two trim levels - SE Nav and Lux Nav - and a choice of three diesel engines.
Buyers can opt for the D3 2.0-litre unit delivering 148bhp and the D4 2.0-litre offering 188bhp and both are available in two-wheel drive form.
There's also a 2.4-litre five-cylinder diesel unit - the D4 AWD - which offers 188bhp and as the name suggests four-wheel drive.
You can choose from a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic for the D3 and D4 while the D4 AWD comes only as an automatic.
This was the 2.0-litre D4 and I have to confess that given a choice I would plump for an automatic over a manual.
It was front-wheel rather than four-wheel drive but still felt extremely assured, with a considerable amount of grip when travelling at speed.
The 2.0-litre D4 unit is surprisingly potent, meaning the car is actually quite a performer and definitely in the sporty rather than sedate estate category .
It handles splendidly and scores highly as a driver's car yet does so while delivering impressive fuel economy too.