Much of the time, the Volvo's V70’s ride quality – surely a priority in a family wagon – is impressively pliant and on the verge of displaying that loping absorbency that was once the speciality of French cars.

It doesn’t quite have that suppleness, though, and at times its body control could be tighter, but overall this is a restful place to be. Until, that is, the wheels pass over a particularly scabby piece of tarmac and thump out a crude drumbeat that shatters the calm.

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There’s often some light jerking to go with it, too. Which is a shame, because without this curious behaviour, the V70 would have a well-above-average ride, and handling that’s capable, if no more than that.

In fact, the V70 can be hustled along testing country lanes with some verve, but you’d hardly call it a precision instrument. Rising and falling cambers will occasionally have you sawing to provide correction. The steering lacks bite when you’re in a bend, too.

What it also lacks is the finesse of Ford’s S-Max (a car that employs broadly the same chassis). There’s a slight tippy-toed feeling to the Volvo as you turn in to a bend, and although it rolls less than you’d expect after this fleeting moment of uncertainty, it doesn’t feel terribly well poised.

Some of this composure is restored with the R-Design chassis. New springs and dampers, a modified self-levelling system and lower ride height (20mm at the front, 15mm rear) offer a settled ride and a greater appetite for corners. In our opinion, all V70s should be fitted with the R-Design changes as standard.

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It undoubtedly improves the current car over the old V70, which wasn’t comfortable with a press-on approach, but this new V70 is nowhere near to challenging the poised athleticism – and comfort – of BMW’s 5 Series Touring.