IT'S easy to imagine an automotive future where almost everyone is driving an SUV or crossover - and probably an electric one at that.
In our seemingly unquenchable thirst for spacious and practical family cars that offer a commanding view of the road and look like a rugged off-roader, one might rightly imagine estate cars to be on their way out - but don't write them off just yet.
Demand is still high for what once was the de facto family car of choice - perhaps even more so at the premium end of the market where the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes continue to battle it out.
In many ways it's horses for courses when it comes to choosing between these three and all have multiple strengths and few weaknesses.
Do you like the impressive glide-like ride quality that characterises most Mercedes cars or do you prefer Audi's renowned fit and finish?
BMW buyers might traditionally have favoured driving dynamics above all else.
Nowadays all score highly in all regards and it probably is just a case of personal preference.
So, what of the latest 5 Series Touring - just the fifth generation of BMW's flagship estate car?
As one might expect it's a good example of evolution.
A significant first is being able to opt for BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive, which is being offered for the first time on a 5 Series Touring.
As is the trend in the industry it also comes with more refined and potent diesel engines compared to the outgoing model.
Diesel-wise you can choose the 530d or 520d - a 3.0-litre, six cylinder diesel unit or a 2.0-litre, four cylinder one.
A 520d in SE trim is at the more reasonably priced end of the scale while this 530d xDrive M Sport Touring sits at the other end.
The 2.0-litre engine delivers 187bhp while the 3.0-litre delivers 261bhp.
In between there's a 525d, which has a more potent (228bhp) version of the 2.0-litre diesel unit.
For petrol purists you can choose between 182bhp and 249bhp 2.0-litres (520i and 5301) or a 3.0-litre six-cylinder delivering 335bhp.
The latest 5 Series Touring looks good, with enough difference and modernity to distinguish it from the model it replaces.
It is 36mm longer, 8mm wider and 10mm taller than its predecessor and significantly lighter.
The enhanced dimensions mean more room throughout the cabin with the most notable improvement being for rear seat passengers, who get extra leg and shoulder room.
A real bonus is a bigger 570-litre boot, which offers an extra 10 litres of carrying capacity compared to the old model. With the seats down you get a whopping 1,700 litres of space.
A split opening tailgate, which means the glass window can be opened separately, is great for throwing those small bags in and another easy to like feature is the kick opening for the boot.
Basically you slide a foot under the rear bumper and hey presto the tailgate opens automatically.
Talking of clever features I really loved the remote parking function (£695 as an extra), which means you can move the car in and out of tight spaces using a very high-tech key fob.
Is it a gimmick? To a degree but I could also see the real world benefit of it, particularly in those tricky multi-storey car parks where spaces seem to get ever smaller.
On the inside the 5 Series Touring is sumptuously appointed and beautifully kitted out.
Forget the clinical and somewhat stark interiors BMW favoured a few years back, this is splendidly stylish and despite some of the high-tech kit on board is a breeze to find your way around, with an all digital dashboard and iDrive infotainment system using a 10.2-inch screen.
Standard equipment is decent enough, though as with all BMWs it's easy to start adding things on.
To drive it is as good as one would expect and very much in the BMW tradition of being a real driver's car.
The 3.0-litre diesel engine is super-smooth and powerful too.
It's a hugely comfortable car on a variety of surfaces but also a consummate driving machine when the occasion demands it.
Engage sport mode and head out on an empty A road it won't be long before you forget you're in what is ultimately quite a large family estate car.