THE Volvo estate is one of the cornerstones of Middle Britain.
From the days two decades ago when it was a boxy Lego brick with the aerodynamics of a hearse to todays shapely, low-slung offering, it represents something almost as fundamental to society as the Sunday roast or the village pub.
Whether you happen to have a pair of wagging Labradors in the rear or not, the current incarnation is truly a car for all seasons with a decent performance, loads of space for people and baggage and a frugal thirst for fuel.
One of the most popular models in the extensive line-up of mid-sized V60 models - V stands for Versatile - is the D4 version which is propelled by a two-litre turbo diesel which inspires the five-door with punchy acceleration especially for mid range acceleration.
Coupled to an eight-speed automatic gearbox the 187bhp four-pot diesel gets to 62mph is a reasonably brisk 7.9 seconds.
It does pretend to be a sports model, but the handling and road-holding is tidy enough with relatively low roll angles despite it being a comfortable family car. Ride is generally slightly on the soft side and the V60 responds best to relaxed, smooth driving which shows off its refined, easy-going nature.
Owners can switch between four drive modes to tailor their journey according to their requirements - Comfort, which is the default setting, Eco, Dynamic or individual. By picking a particular mode response of steering, suspension, automatic gearbox and suspension is tweaked accordingly.
The big bonus with the diesel power is its economy. The high 40s are easily possible with a light right foot - on one easy-going long run we clocked up 53mpg. Noise levels are low by diesel standards.
The extra available space for cargo of an estate is clearly a prime attraction to buyers and the V60 is among the roomiest in its sector with 529 litres. Fold down the rear seats and this expands to 1,441 litres. All models come with an electric tailgate and there's no lip over which heavy items need to be lifted.
There's also a section of the floor that flips up to separate luggage items to stop them moving around the boot area.
If there's a prize for cabin design, Volvo would be collecting it. Its stylish practicality using a principal of minimalism and natural materials is a lesson to rivals. Not only is it great looking and quite luxy, but the iPad-style touchscreen works a treat, although it does take a bit of getting used to.
The Inscription Plus model driven here comes with multi-adjustable front seats that are heated, extendable squabs and lumbar support.
There's no shortage of standard equipment - power front seats, automatic folding mirrors, parking sensors, LED headlights, wood inlays in the cabin and Bower &Wilkins sound system are included.
With a declared mission statement that no-one should ever be killed or badly injured in a Volvo, the V60 incorporates a number of safety features.