However good a crossover is, there is always a caveat. Behind each and every one is a hatchback or estate car, often from the same manufacturer, which will better serve 99 per cent of buyers.
The problem is physics. Car makers may have gotten very good at making their high-riding wares stop and steer very well, all things considered, but there’s only so much you can do to mitigate a car putting on several hundred kilos compared to the equivalent hatch and keeping its centre of gravity much further up than you’d like.
It’ll be slower, use more fuel and won’t be as nice to drive. The fact is, people are buying compromised cars for an increase in ride height plus some off-road ability they’ll never use.
But, there is a saviour. A car to break this spell of automotive madness. And it’s called the Volvo V60 Cross Country.
Like the V90 CC, the genius of the V60 is that it’s still… well, it’s still an estate car, isn’t it? Just a jacked up one, with some tough grey plastic cladding that shows everyone else you have an active lifestyle that requires your car to be decked out thusly. Even if you don’t.
It sits 60mm higher than a regular V60, giving you a lofty (ish) driving position, and together with a dedicated off-road mode plus hill descent control, it can actually do the rough stuff, so long as you remember it isn’t quite a Land Rover Defender. And it does all this with little in the way of compromise.
It may be 123kg heavier than a regular V60 D4, but almost all of that increase is down to the Haldex four-wheel drive system - this is the only V60 available with 4WD. It rolls a little more than other V60s and is noticeably softer (it rides beautifully, actually), but it still just feels like an ordinary estate car.
It’s not the most thrilling thing to drive quickly, but there is a decent amount of traction, and the 187bhp D4 turbo diesel engine makes progress easy enough. We’d probably hold out for the punchy and refined Cross Country T5 petrol, though.
What’s particularly unusual about the V60 Cross Country is it’s somehow so much cooler and more appealing than a regular, already very pretty V60, without trying hard at all. Perhaps it’s because Volvo effectively gave birth to this sub-genre of cars with the V70 XC. The Swedish brand followed it up with a long line of slightly jacked up, slightly toughened estate cars (and even a saloon, in the form of the S60), and they’ve all just looked right.
If I was in the market for a V60, there’s no question that the Cross Country is the one I’d buy. And then I’d adapt my lifestyle to get the most of it. Perhaps I’d buy a remote hut somewhere to live in, or find a hobby that requires driving down a muddy track from time to time. Either way, I know I want one - the same certainly can’t be said for any crossover.
The interior is, as on any SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) Volvo, overly familiar, but thoroughly lovely. The nine-inch touchscreen is very good (even if I’d still prefer the climate controls to be separate), and the general environment a far classier and more subtle than what you’d find in any of the V60’s German rivals.
Just like the German rivals, however, there’s no such thing as a cheap one. Our test car had its £38,270 starting price inflated to a wallet-busting £50,915. Granted, I could see plenty on the options list I could do without, but also plenty I’d want to keep - you should expect to drop at least £45k on one of these. But, for a car that’s brilliantly built and able to tick many boxes while also looking effortlessly cool, that doesn’t seem so bad.