The heavy rain over the Christmas festive season made me appreciate being behind the wheel of one of Volvo’s new XC60 models.
We were on a mission to deliver Christmas gifts to an address in the country when the sat nav took us down a single track road and we came face to face with flood water blocking our path.
There was no way of knowing the depth of the water so the only sensible action was to reverse to find an area wide enough to turn round in, but going backwards for a long distance on a pitch black night on a very narrow road was going to be difficult.
Or at least it would have been had it not been for the car’s reversing camera overlaid with lines showing just where I was heading.
While it was too black to see anything behind me using the mirrors, the camera seemed to penetrate the darkness to give me clear vision. I assumed there must have been a huge reversing lamp at work but no, it was just down to the camera’s night vision quality.
After about a mile we were finally able to turn around, thankful in no small measure to a feature I didn’t realise was quite as brilliant as it is.
The new XC60 has been overshadowed a little by the launch of the latest version of its bigger brother, the XC90, but it’s still a very impressive car in so many ways.
This large five-seater offers an abundance of space whether you sit in the front or the rear and is ideal for long journeys with its high stance giving everyone good all-round vision.
On the latest model, all black trim has been taken away and the car now comes with a fully colour coordinated body.
New styling means the headlamps look very focused and determined and offer superb night vision.
But there is more to these than just brilliant illumination.
The lighting system uses Active High Beam Control which eliminates the need to switch between low and high beam by keeping the headlights on high beam continuously, which is not as dangerous as it sounds.
For when another car approaches from the opposite direction, the system automatically shades out as much of the beam as necessary to prevent dazzling the driver.
It’s all done by an ingenious projector module mechanism integrated into the headlamp and works just as effectively to shade out any cars you are following.
My D4 test car was powered by a 181bhp 2.4-litre diesel mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox.
This beefy power plant hauls the chunky all-wheel-drive giant Tonka toy-like vehicle along with consummate ease, and can be quite lively when you drop the gear selector into Sport or use the manual gear change paddles behind the steering wheel.
For such a big vehicle the ride is impressive, with no body roll, excellent grip and very agile car-like handling. There is a beefy growl from the diesel unit when under power but most of the time the cabin is remarkably quiet.
And being a Volvo it’s packed with every kind of safety system from Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection – which warns the driver of an imminent collision with either and if there is no response applies the brakes – to a new Bliss system which uses radar to warn you of vehicles in your blind spot.
Other features include low speed cornering lights which highlight the kerb as you turn and the displaying on the dashboard of the last speed sign you have passed so there’s no excuse for exceeding the speed limit.
An optional extra on my car was a powered tailgate easing access to the cavernous 495-litre luggage area on the XC60.
The car is packed with a host of creature comforts, including heated leather seats and a great Harman Kardon sound system.
And with this Volvo you know that whatever the forthcoming winter holds this chunky off-roader has all the attributes to cope with ease.
Model: Volvo XC60 D4 SE Lux Nav
Mechanical: 2,400cc, 181bhp, 5-cyl diesel engine driving all wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox.
Max speed: 127 mph
0-62mph : 9.6 secs
Combined mpg: 49.6
CO2 emissions: 149 g/km
Warranty: Three years/60,000miles