UNCERTAINTY around Brexit, muddled Government policy on diesels and incoming congestion charges are among the issues which have left the UK car market in something of a precarious state of late.
New registrations dropped for the fourth consecutive month in June, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, and concern is growing among industry bosses.
Volvo, however, has bucked this downward trend in some considerable style.
The Swedish car-maker, now firmly established in the premium sector after reinventing itself in recent years, saw UK sales soar by 27 percent, to almost 30,000, in the first six months of 2019.
A major driving force behind this success has been the hugely well-received XC40 compact SUV which, after launching in early 2018, quickly became Volvo's best selling model.
Although it may be stretching the interpretation of compact somewhat, with its upright stance and imposing presence, it is easy to see why this car has been such an instant hit with its combination of style, space and high tech features.
Retaining the instantly recognisable design language of Volvo's larger SUVs, the equally impressive XC60 and XC90, but cleverly infusing that with a more youthful look and feel, the designers have produced an attractive car that disguises its basic boxy shape very effectively.
With a range which extends to almost 40 different combinations of engine, trim level and transmission, including petrol or diesel power and front or all-wheel drive, there is certainly plenty of choice.
The 1.5-litre T3 petrol power plant in our car, mated to a very smooth eight-speed automatic transmission, debuted in the XC40 and is the manufacturer's first ever three-cylinder engine, which combines decent everyday performance with family-friendly frugality.
It'll shift this sizable motor from 0-62mph in less than ten seconds and on to a top speed of 124mph while delivering a claimed 43.5 miles per gallon on average.
The driving experience is easy and enjoyable, without being overly engaging, but that's just what you want in this type of car, and the ride is impressively smooth and unruffled.
There's a little body roll in corners, as with most high-riding SUVs, but grip is good and well weighted steering means the car is easy to manoeuvre in town but offers reasonable feedback at speed.
Inside the cabin the look and feel is more in keeping with that of the XC40's bigger siblings, with premium materials; comfortable, supportive seats front and rear; and a minimal number of buttons and dials thanks to the tablet-style touchscreen infotainment system which, at nine inches, is large and intuitive enough to be pretty easy to use even when on the move.
This is undoubtedly the highlight feature but all versions are suitably well equipped to live up to their premium billing with entry level Momentum cars getting LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, a 12.3-inch configurable digital driver's display, navigation, digital radio and rear parking sensors.
Stepping up to the sportily styled R-Design or flagship Inscription trims adds more bells and whistles and all three grades can be specced up with the Pro pack our car had, which adds a powered driver's seat, heated front seats and a heated windscreen.
This is a Volvo, so safety is also comprehensively catered for, with automatic emergency braking and lane keep assist standard across the range.
Interior space is impressive, with room for five adults to be comfortable on shorter journeys while four will be able to really stretch out on long trips. There's plenty of clever storage cubbies for various odds and ends and the boot, 432 litres rising to 1,305 with the rear seats folded flat, is big enough to cope with most loads.