IN a motoring world now dominated by SUVs Volvo's decision to introduce a new compact one might have seemed a bit risky.
But judging by the awards and accolades picked up by the new XC40 - including European Car of the Year - the bosses at Gothenburg, Sweden knew exactly what they were doing.
Despite being the smallest of the company's XC range the new model boasts many of the same up-market features and certainly the same quality of its larger siblings.
The new model has a bold, dramatic exterior with its clamshell bonnet, concave grille, sculptured doors, distinctive T-shaped daylight running lights and - in the case of the R-Design spec model driven here - contrasting roof and body colours,
Its tall stance and spacious interior means good all round vision and everyone on board has an abundance of space.
But while leg room in the rear is generous tall passengers might have to bend their knees a little more than on the bigger XCs to get in and out because of the narrower door openings.
The doors themselves are cleverly designed to overlap the sills so that you don't get your clothes dirty as you get out.
On the inside armchair-like seats hold you well in place and I liked the clean contemporary, Ikea-like look of the interior.
A centre-set large touch screen which operates many of the on-board features eliminates the need for too many switches and there's a generous amount of interior compartments to keep everything neat and tidy.
There are even slots in the dashboard for credit card style club cards as well as a fold-out hook in the glove box for takeaways.
Boot space too is generous thanks to a flat floor, few lumps and bumps on the sides and a tailgate that comes right down to the rear bumper.
The model tested here is the all-singing, all-dancing top-of-the-range T5, an all-wheel-drive petrol-powered vehicle for motorists who want to combine performance and comfort with off-road ability.
With a top speed of 140 miles per hour and a 0-62mph time of just 6.5 seconds the T5 powerhouse is an exceptionally quick car that delivers its power in a quiet, refined manner.
There's a choice of driving modes too, from eco to dynamic and you can even set individual preferences to tailor-make your Volvo to your style of driving.
The 247bhp engine is mated to a seamless eight-speed automatic gearbox which comes with the flexibility of a short sporty gearshift as well as paddles behind the steering wheel for manual gear changes.
And if you're lucky enough to be able to buy one of the First Edition models you will find it even more lavishly equipped than the standard one, coming as it does with a host of extra equipment worth more than Â£5,000.
This includes a panoramic sunroof, automatic parking, parking cameras with a 360 degree surround view, power operated tailgate and heated rear seats.