By Mike Torpey on 2018-02-25 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Volvo V90 D4
ASK anyone for the names of a few cool-looking cars and chances are an estate model won't make the cut, let alone the shortlist.
Definitely not those big boxy antique dealer load luggers like the Volvo 850 and early versions of the V70.
But in the shape of its new V90, the Swedish brand has a premium model that does everything an estate car owner would require but delivers it with real panache.
Voted 'Best Estate' in the UK Car of the Year Awards 2017 for its mix of style, practicality and desirability, the V70 is a vehicle of outstanding appeal.
The key word is desire because if our tested R-Design version is an accurate gauge this is a car you can quicky fall in love with - yes it's cool, relaxingly calm and also connected.
And that latter attribute doesn't just refer to the modern digital world but also to the future, courtesy of something called Pilot Assist.
Included as standard fit on the V90 and its saloon stablemate the S90, the system is seen as a stepping stone towards fully autonomous driving, a key innovation area for Volvo.
You just press a button on the wheel and the system takes care of the car's steering, throttle and brakes to keep you within your lane at a set speed up to 80mph.
You can keep to the desired cruising speed or stay at a set distance from any vehicle in front, accelerating or braking with the flow of traffic - right down to a standstill.
Up for grabs in a choice of Inscription. Momentum and R-Design trim levels, the latter is the sportiest grade and features more dynamic suspension plus some sporty style upgrades.
As for engines, the existing D4 and D5 Power Pulse diesels and T8 Twin Engine have recently been boosted by the arrival of a new T4 petrol unit.
Most economical though is the D4. combining a useful level of kick from its 190ps engine with an official Combined fuel return of 62.8 miles per gallon, a figure our predominantly urban pottering couldn't match.
What most other estates can't match is the V90's carrying capacity - 560 litres with the rear seats in place, increasingto 1,526 litres with them folded flat.
That proved more than enough to carry home a pair of six-foot Christmas trees, easily loaded thanks to the Volvo's wide, low boot opening.
Inside, the V90's cabin is a work of minimalist art - simple, Scandinavian and smartly laid out, the dash dominated by a vertical tablet with its intuitive Sensus touchscreen control set-up.
There's also the option of Smartphone Integration - which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto - plus a Bowers & Wilkins sound system with 18 speakers and an audio setting that mirrors the acoustics of the Gothenburg Concert Hall in Sweden.
And those who suffer from backache need have no worries as the V90's heated leather seats are as comfortable and supporting as they get, while the steering wheel is also heated.
Safety measures, always a top priority with Volvo, included both Run-off Road Mitigation and Large Animal Detection.
Volvo V90 D4 R-Design
Mechanical: 190ps, 1,969cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 140mph
0-62mph: 8.5 seconds
Combined MPG: 62.8
Insurance Group: 29
C02 emissions: 119g/km
Bik rating: 25%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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