Volvo takes V60 off

road

Volvo V60 Cross Country, front, static
Volvo V60 Cross Country, side, static
Volvo V60 Cross Country, rear, static
Volvo V60 Cross Country, front, action
Volvo V60 Cross Country, side, action
Volvo V60 Cross Country, rear, action
Volvo V60 Cross Country, badge
Volvo V60 Cross Country, sun roof
Volvo V60 Cross Country, display screen
Volvo V60 Cross Country, boot
Volvo V60 Cross Country, interior
Volvo V60 Cross Country, centre console

YES, crossovers and SUVs are the shape of the moment. It's the trend that's sweeping the nation and beyond.

But let's say you are not a fan of off-roaders, what are the options? Well, the traditional estate car design is still around and still commands a loyal following.

And if you need something with a tad more grip for towing a boat or caravan or trips to the local gymkhana or similar outdoor stuff, a number of prestige auto manufacturers are turning out an appealing compromise in the guise of an estate car with higher than average ground clearance, four wheel drive and a bit of body armour that might appeal to our ‘adventurer' nature.

The latest example to join the fray is the new Volvo V60 Cross Country, a handsome five-door that's just as at home parked outside a five-star hotel as it is romping across a muddy field.

At the moment, just one engine option is available - the 190bhp D4 diesel, but expect a high performance T5 petrol by the end of the year.

In order to support its off-road looks and all-terrain credentials the Cross Country is raised 60mm, the suspensions is modified to absorb bumps easier and hill descent is added to the standard equipment so it can cope with the ups and downs of rural driving.

While it's not intended to traverse mountain slopes, boggy paddocks or a slippery river banks should not present any great difficulty.

Where the Volvo scores extra points is in the cabin. It may be a bit agricultural in character on the outside, but inside is a high fashion experience. A huge iPad-style nine-inch touchscreen takes centre stage on the classy fascia and a driver display behind the steering wheel takes the place of standard dials.

Impressive though the touchscreen definitely is, operating it over the rough stuff becomes is a non-starter as your finger is joggled around.

The heavy duty plastics used for the dash are both tactile and stylish adding to the luxury ambience of the Volvo.

With a low rear platform and no lip, loading is a synch with acres of space - with rear seats folded there's 1,441litres of cargo room which is roomier than most rivals. Even with the back seats in place there's 529litres of room with an underfloor compartment for valuables too.

So what does this all-purpose estate drive like? Well, if you've just stepped out of the conventional two-wheel drive V60, particularly in sporty R Design form, as I had, you can pick up on a marginal lack of athleticism. Nothing startling, just a slight blunting of the senses.

The vast majority of buyers at normal speeds wouldn't notice a difference, but the all-paw drive and higher ground clearance would definitely be appreciated over tricky surfaces.

The 190bhp two litre twin-turbo diesel engine might not be the flavour of the month in the eyes for future thinking Tesla types, but it certainly does a good job of propelling the V60 with a decent turn of speed and a meagre thirst. 62mph comes up in under eight seconds and most owners will squeeze 45-plus out of a gallon.

An eight speed auto gearbox is fitted but, unlike the R-Design, it doesn't come with steering wheel paddles.

Owners can select an appropriate driving mode - comfort, eco, dynamic, off-road or individual - from a barrel switch on the central console.

Of course hybrid power will be introduced soon to the entire range, but there's little substitute for the huge reserve of torque packed by a good diesel.

Equipment level of the Cross Country - price £38,270 - is pretty good and includes parking sensors, climate, silver rood rails and charcoal grey wheel arch extensions. Perhaps surprisingly leather seating remains an extra.

The new model neatly bridges that gap between estate car and crossover and deserves to hold a definite appeal to those who don't want to climb on the SUV bandwagon.

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