Volvo’s XC70 takes a bit of working out. It’s not tall enough to be classed as an out and out 4×4, but simply to call it an estate car would be to fail to do it justice, writes Ian Strachan.

Truth is it’s a bit of both. Those clever Swedes have combined all the virtues of an estate car with the capabilities of an all wheel drive vehicle. The result is a car which is the ultimate in practicality, but which still looks smart on the road.

In design terms, there’s no doubt that this is a Volvo. Big, sturdy-looking and roomy, it’s all Volvo from front, back and side.

But it has chunkier bumpers, a higher stance and skid plate protectors front and rear, which give away its cross country credentials.

Volvo will be the first to admit that despite being all wheel drive, this is not a heavy duty mud-plugger. Don’t expect it to tackle the really rough stuff or wade up to its door mirrors in muddy water. But it can hold its own on rough tracks, slippery services, mud and snow.

I took it across some pretty hairy country tracks and muddy fields, with pouring rain turning the tractor ruts to sludge, and it didn’t miss a beat. With its chunky tyres and added ground clearance I was surprised quite how good its off-road capabilities were.

I test drove the 215 horsepower 2.4 litre five cylinder diesel powered version in D5 SE Lux trim. This is a superb engine, very quiet, with smooth, unfussed power delivery. Linked to an effortless six speed automatic transmission, driving it is a pleasure, particularly when you need mid range power.

Its fuel consumption is respectable at 53.3 mpg in mixed driving. Ride is extremely comfortable, with nicely damped suspension and supportive electronic seats. I did two successive long journeys and finished each one feeling fresh as a daisy.

The interior is very nicely trimmed with luxurious leather upholstery and soft trim. The dash is uncluttered and clear with all controls falling nicely to hand. There’s plenty of leg and elbow room for five adults, even with the huge rear loadspace.

Trim levels are high. Standard equipment includes smart alloy wheels, remote controlled tailgate release and electric closing, satellite navigation, surround-sound DAB radio/CD/media player, electric heated front seats, electronic climate control, cruise control, roof rails, keyless entry/ignition, Xenon headlights and electrically heated folding door mirrors.

This XC70 comes at £39,540 on the road, but my test car came loaded with extras which put another £11,000 onto the price. These included Inscription ventilated soft leather upholstery (£1700) automatic transmission at £1485, driver support system which includes collision warning, lane departure warning, blind spot alert and pedestrian detection (£1900) high performance sound system (£500), front park assist (£325), active controlled chassis (£1,000), active headlights and winter pack with heated front screen (£350) and a few other items which brought the price to a pretty hefty £50,630. However you can enjoy Volvo XC70 motoring more cheaply by going for the D4 entry model at £34,410.

Motoring Reviews are bought to you courtesy of Midlands Business News and its Motoring Editor Ian Strachan of Ian Strachan Communications