VOLVO have been making estate cars since 1953, which have obviously changed dramatically in this time – in many respects – including the old stuffy image they once had.

This sleek and stylish, spacious V70 now offers first-class comfort combined with a vast 575 litres of space. With all rear seats folded flat, load space grows to a cavernous 1,600 litres.

The rear seat can integrate double two-stage child seats - with one simple movement, booster cushions pop up from the seat giving a comfy and safe ride height for children from the age of three and upwards.

The new D4 engine is an absolute gem, producing a maximum of 179bhp. You can choose from three chassis types - Dynamic, Lowered Sport Chassis and Four-C (Continuously Controlled Chassis Concept).

Bluetooth is fitted as standard, allowing you to make hands-free calls and have music streaming. Volvo’s On Call system can be combined with Bluetooth.

This time of the year is when I put on heated seats automatically first thing in the morning, but it’s the heated steering wheel that adds a luxurious feel. Being cold is not an option for me!

Automatic cars can get paddle shifters so you can change gear manually, but I didn’t feel the need to do this – the automatic transmission was very smooth. Cars with a rain sensor can get an electrically heated windscreen for rapid de-icing on cold winter days. Happily, scrapers and de-icer are very much a thing of the past.

As we’ve come to expect, safety features on the Volvo are virtually never ending and the V70 is no exception. Highlights include the new Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection with full auto brake, with an advanced sensor system that scans the area ahead. If a cyclist heading in the same direction suddenly swerves out in front of the car, there is an instant warning and full braking power is applied.

An upgraded City Safety system is active at speeds up to 31mph, where the car automatically brakes if you fail to react in time when the vehicle in front slows down or stops - or if the car is approaching a stationary vehicle too fast.

The reverse cameras helped with parking, but I still struggled at times with it being so long.

But it’s a safe choice of car – and a good one, deserving respect for not only being a great drive, but also incredibly practical, spacious, clever and really comfortable too.

Volvo V70 D4 SE Lux GT
Price: £46,100
Top speed: 137mph
0-62mph: 8.6 seconds
Fuel: 62.8mpg
CO2 emissions: 117g/km