When it comes to rugged good looks blended with a distinctly sporting image, the Volvo XC60 takes some beating.
And while its appearance might imply that it’s a 4x4, this up-market model from the Swedish car maker is also available with front-wheel-drive, so if you don’t need that extra traction you can keep your costs down.
Step inside and it soon becomes obvious that this is very much executive transport with all the comforts you might want.
A lot of manufacturers offer leather upholstery but in this model the quality outshines most of them with its smooth, soft, warm-to-the-touch finish on the section you actually sit on and the more rugged finish on the surrounding panels. And being a Volvo the heated front seats warm up very rapidly.
The dashboard layout has a very uncluttered look as most of the controls are located in a large central stack, including the satellite navigation system, and so are easy to use without having to take your eyes off the road for more than a split second.
This is a car which comes with a host of features which you never knew you wanted but miss when you transfer to a lesser car.
They include simple things like never having to take the key fob out of your pocket because the doors unlock as soon as you touch the outside handles and lock again the same way. The engine starts via a dashboard-mounted button so no ignition key has to be turned and the rear tailgate opens and closes electronically. Lazy maybe but you do get used to it.
The same thing applies to the lighting system. Simply set it on automatic and you don’t have to keep switching between main beam and dipped on poorly lit roads as the car does it for you, dipping the lights as soon as it senses another car in front and raising them as soon as the vehicle has gone.
This is a car which offers space in abundance, both for passengers and for luggage. Beneath the tailgate there are some 495 litres available and this increases to a very hefty 1,455 when you lower the rear seat backs.
Despite having a relatively small 2.0-litre engine this model is a very quiet, very refined vehicle thanks to its five cylinders which give it a silky smoothness.
And even though it’s on the large size it’s very agile and car-like to drive with impressive, instant response to any dab of the accelerator. An abundance of torque makes for very relaxed driving helped by a creamy smooth gear change.
There are a number of detail changes on the 2014 model, including the previously visible washer nozzles relocated out of sight under the bonnet and the headlamp washer jets now sit flush to help create a cleaner bumper line.
The radar cover has been painted gloss black, making it far less obvious in the grille and the previous camera based BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) has been replaced by radar sensors, allowing the removal of the familiar “bubble” on the underside of the rear-view mirrors.
The chrome frame around the grille has been removed and the new, bigger ironmark badge enhances the new cars’ self-confident look.
And being a Volvo it’s packed with safety systems, including Road Sign Information which displays in the central instrument panel the last road sign you passed so there is no excuse for not knowing the speed limit of the section of road you are on.
The XC60 has always been a good car – but it’s just got better.
Model: Volvo XC60 D4 SE M
Mechanical: 1984 cc, 163 bhp, 5 cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6spd manual gearbox.
Max speed: 121 mph
0-62mph: 10.3 secs
Combined mpg: 53.3
CO2 emissions: 139 g/km
Warranty: 3 years/60,000 miles