TAKE an upmarket estate car and add some aggressive styling traits to the mix and you have the rather striking Volvo V90 Cross Country.
While SUVs may be all the rage these days, there is still great demand for estate cars too with their sleek streamlining and massive boot capacities. And Volvo has always developed some of the finest load luggers in the business.
Gone are the box-like, characterless designs of bygone years and in their place, we get the stunning V90 Cross Country. The CC title relates to this model's off-road ability and also means there are some rough-tough design cues to help it stand out in the line-up.
For example, there is added cladding to the wheel arches, bumpers and side sills, along with dark tinted windows, a blacked-out grille and our car also featured distinctive 21-inch alloy wheels.
Moving inside, the interior is very swish and upmarket with the latest nine-inch centre console touchscreen with all the Google Automated Services such as Google Maps, Google Assistant voice control and apps to Google Play Store with four years' data allowance.
Creature comforts are plentiful with a premium Harmon Kardon sound system, Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity, a wireless charging pad, rear parking camera, front and rear parking sensors, heated front seats and lots more.
A Climate pack, costing an extra £575, added heated outer rear seats, a heated steering wheel and heated front windscreen.
In addition, the Volvo Cars app allows you to control a number of features remotely via a smartphone, tablet or smartwatch. It also acts as a tracking service in an emergency.
Our car costing £53,695 (£60,210 with options) was powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine delivering 235hp and 480Nm of torque. It could sprint from 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds and topped out at 112mph. According to official figures, it can deliver a combined 44.8mpg with carbon emissions from 164g/km.
When it comes to performance, the Volvo V90 is an absolute delight to drive. The market has been flooded with so many SUVs and crossover vehicles in recent years, it would be easy to overlook the good old estate car. And that would be a real shame because they drive so beautifully.
With excellent grip and no sign of body sway thanks to its low centre of gravity, the V90 is composed when attacking the country lanes. It cruises on motorways with ease and, thanks to all the sensors and a reversing camera, is fairly agile in busier city centre traffic. You will need a larger than normal parking space though as this estate car stretches almost five metres in length.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox is perfectly timed and the steering is beautifully weighted with plenty of driver feedback.
While the V90 is not an out and out off-roader it can cope when faced with rougher terrain which makes it ideal for family adventures and also towing a caravan weighing up to 2.4 tonnes. And the V90 Cross Country version gets a raised ground clearance for added protection.
Comfort levels up front are sublime with powered seats to quickly get the ideal driving position. The cabin is upmarket and very driver focused with all controls simple to operate on the fly.
There is ample room in the back for two adults to stretch out in absolute comfort - add a third and it gets a little cosy. But storage limits are impressive with a boot that can swallow 560 litres of kit, increasing to 1,526 litres with the split-folding rear seats dropped flat.
Throughout the car there are plenty of storage compartments, including a practical cubby box, door bins with room for a bottle, a deep glovebox, front and rear cup holders and a secret compartment next to the driver's right knee.
The Volvo V90 is also packed with safety kit and driver assistance systems that helped it achieve a maximum five stars when tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating.
Features include City Safety with Steering Support which includes pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection, Run-off Road Protection which automatically tightens the seatbelts if the car leaves the road, Oncoming Lane Mitigation to prevent you from drifting out of your lane into the path of oncoming vehicles, cruise control with speed limiter and lots more besides.