High-riding front-wheel-drive estate adds extra versatility to Volvo's V60 range, but there are better value alternatives out there

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The rugged Volvo V60 Cross Country is the latest example of Volvo's attempts to exploit its Cross Country sub-brand, following the Volvo V40 Cross Country.

With a 201mm ride height, this Cross Country model sits 65mm higher than a standard V60. Cosmetic styling additions include front and rear skid plates, a metallic honeycomb front grille, wheel arch extensions and gloss trim around the doors and mirrors. The Cross Country also gets dual exhaust tailpipes for a 'more premium look'.

Such is the V60 Cross Country's urgency, in fact, it's close to falling into the 'wolf in sheep's clothing' category

The V60 Cross Country comes in two trim levels - SE Nav and Lux Nav - and with a choice of three diesel engines. The entry-level motor is the 'D3' 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel unit with 148bhp and 258lb ft. Next up is the D4 of the same cubic capacity, but producing 188bhp and 295lb ft. Both are available with just front-wheel drive.

The range-topper is a 2.4-litre five-cylinder turbodiesel engine labelled 'D4 AWD', also developing 188bhp but with a hefty 309lb ft and four-wheel drive. Buyers get the choice of a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox with the D3 and D4 variants, while the flagship D4 AWD is automatic only.

We drove the 188bhp D4 SE Nav manual, which sits right in the middle of the V60 Cross Country range and is expected to be the biggest seller of the range. Like for like, a V60 Cross Country D4 SE Nav manual is £1200 more than the standard V60 D4 SE Nav.

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You certainly won't be left feeling short-changed in terms of performance. Despite weighing almost 60kg more than the standard V60, the Cross Country pulls keenly from just 1400rpm. There's even a hint of torque steer under hard acceleration.

It feels every bit as quick as its 7.2sec claimed 0-62mph sprint time suggests. Such is its urgency, in fact, it's close to falling into the 'wolf in sheep's clothing' category. When pressing on, short-shifting is the way to go, because the D4 is out of puff by 4250rpm - some way short of its 5000rpm redline. Combine the torque and power delivery effectively and it's possible to dispatch slower-moving traffic safely without the need to drop down a gear.

In terms of vibration, the refinement is respectable. However, it's definitely a vocal unit and there's less respite from it than you'll find in some of Volvo's rivals.

Working the six-speed manual transmission is no chore, but neither is it a gearbox with which you particularly look forward to interacting. The throw is slightly longer than you get in rivals such as the Skoda Octavia Scout, but each ratio slots home precisely enough.

The V60 Cross Country is surprisingly composed through bends given its added ride height, and there's little in the way of body lean. It takes potholes in its stride but deep undulations at A-road speeds will bring the extra height to your attention, because the car takes just a fraction longer to settle than the standard V60.

Even in this front-wheel-drive form there's plenty of grip. There's not a great amount of steering feel on offer, but it's precise enough and is consistently weighted.

The cabin looks and feels impressive, with plenty of manual seat and steering wheel adjustment to find an ideal driving position. However, rear head and leg room is less impressive. Six-footers will struggle to get comfortable behind the driver's seat with even an average-sized person at the helm. At 557 litres with the seats up, boot space is respectable if not class-leading.

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As we mentioned earlier, there are two trim levels to choose from SE Nav which equips the V60 with standard features such as cruise control, automatic wipers and lights, parking sensors, Volvo's safety systems, and 17in alloy wheels. As for the interior the V60 Cross Country gains climate control and a 7.0in Sensus infotainment system complete with sat nav, DAB radio, Bluetooth and Volvo's connected services.

Opt for the range-topping Lux Nav and you will get the addition of 18in alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights, keyless entry and electrically adjustable driver's seat.

If you're after a family estate car that'll give you greater peace of mind when tackling hilly dirt tracks than your average front-wheel drive estate, then the V60 Cross Country is hard to overlook.

However, if you want the added security of four-wheel drive you'll have to stump up an extra £3k over this model for the D4 AWD SE Nav variant. That makes it £10k more expensive than the Skoda Octavia Scout 4x4 and in the same ball park as the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack.

While not as quick as this Cross Country, the Scout is a more practical car with a similarly high perceived level of quality to its cabin, and it is available at a considerably cheaper price.