WITH the seemingly unstoppable rise of the SUV it is easy to forget there are other options for families seeking a stylish and practical transport solution.
One such is the Volvo V60 which is not only a quality offering but also makes a compelling case that estates are no back number.
This it achieves with a modern look both inside and out as well as a raft of hi-tech gadgetry.
Forget the tanks Volvo was once famous for, the second generation V60 is sleek and streamlined with a hint of dynamism thrown in.
Built alongside the V90 at Volvo's Gothenburg headquarters, the V60 takes a lot of its design cues from its big brother while adding athletic looks as well as a more vertical rear tailgate which allows class-leading capacity figures to be achieved.
It sits lower than the previous incarnation appearing to hug the road and is also bigger which has a positive impact on the interior.
Slip into the comfortable driving seat and the first thing you notice is the huge sunroof which gives the cabin a light and airy feel.
A nine-inch Sensus tablet-style colour touchscreen dominates the centre of the dash - keeping the need for any further buttons to a minimum - and is flanked by two natty air vents.
The sat nav system is easy to use and comes as standard, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to hook up your smartphone on the options list.
Look ahead and there's a digital dashboard giving the driver ample information that can be changed to suit your requirements.
The Momentum Pro model is the second rung up the model ladder and handily adds a head up display that puts speed, traffic sign and navigation information into the driver's eye line.
Prices for the V60 start from around £32,000 and rise to almost £41,000 for the Inscription Pro flagship, which is competitive compared to its rivals as even entry-level Momentum cars get plenty of goodies.
As an estate the V60 should be able to cope with lots of luggage and shopping and indeed it excels coming top of the compact executive estate league for boot space at 529 litres rising to 1,441 litres when the rear seats are quickly and simply folded flat. There's also a handy fold-up shopping area with a strap to stop your shopping bags attempting to escape.
The interior offers plenty of head, shoulder and legroom for four adults. A fifth can be accommodated with the minimum of fuss - although a raised transmission tunnel does make legroom a bit tighter for the middle rear-seat passenger.
With just two in the back a handy drop down centre armrest containing cup holders and a cubby hole is available.
There are plenty of places to store away a family's nik-naks with a covered storage box between the front seats as well as a large glovebox and door bins.
The 190bhp D4 diesel engine, linked to a slick six-speed manual gearbox, is a decent performer both in terms of pace - 62mph is reached from a standing start in shade under eight seconds - and fuel economy - Volvo claim an average figure in excess of 60mpg with emissions of 117g/km.
I only managed to get around 40mpg in urban and motorway conditions employing the diferent drive settings available ranging from Eco to Dynamic.
Also available is a 150bhp D3 oil burner and a 250bhp T5 petrol power unit.
The V60 is soothing to drive with a relaxed feel concentrating on comfort thanks to an efficient suspension that absorbs the many humps and hollows littering our roads. Corners are taken with confidence as there is plenty of grip available.
This estate is particularly suited to long motorway journeys where a Pilot Assist system really comes into play keeping the car a set distance from the vehicle in front once you've selected the desired speed as well as maintaining your position in lane.
It is part of a raft of technology, including all-round object detection and automatic braking to help avoid a collision with an oncoming vehicle, that maintain Volvo's place at the cutting edge of safety systems.