If the budget will not stretch to that of the A6 Allroad but a four-wheel drive estate car with off-road capability fits the farm’s needs, then Volvo’s Cross Country XC70 could prove a useful alternative.
Also in its third generation, the new XC70 brings with it a revised exterior, higher-quality interior and improved D5 engine. This latest version gets a beautifully crafted interior which puts style at the top of the list, without sacrificing functionality.
Volvo has stayed faithful to its ‘floating’ central instrument panel design, but has missed a trick by not putting additional 12v sockets behind the panel for those with gadgets to power. There is just one 12v socket concealed in the centre console.
The interior’s minimalistic look is one which remains completely uncluttered, and the dash now gets an integrated sat-nav rather than its predecessor’s pop-out-of-the-dash version. But disappointingly, the navigation will not let you carry out a seven-digit postcode search.
That said, the screen is neatly integrated and carries a host of vehicle information and settings, letting you manipulate multimedia, car settings, telephone and radio stations all in one place.
As you would expect, the XC70 will get you most places. It has an electronically controlled diff, raised ground clearance and specially tuned traction control with hill-descent control systems which do the hard work for you when you venture off-road.
The suspension feels well dialled in to farm tracks and as a result is extremely adept at handling our poor road surfaces. While the ride manages to isolate the driver and passenger from any harsh thumps or crashing from the suspension, it does require a considered approach for those who would like to go briskly around corners, as the XC70 does lean a bit.
Volvo’s five-cylinder engine delivers a sweet note and, combined with a six-speed autobox in our test model, is a smooth and refined performer. This latest D5 engine gets 215hp, which is a big lift over the previous XC’s 185hp.
While Volvo has leant the tailgate’s upper section forward to improve aesthetics, it is not enough to eat into the load space like some of its lifestyle-oriented competitors. It remains reasonably square-shouldered at the back to add to the XC’s practicality. Even the rear seats split in a 40:20:40 ratio allowing you to make the most of load space, passenger space or a blend of both.
Among the smart details in the luggage compartment is a storage compartment under the floor which is locked when the tailgate is shut.
And when the Volvo’s load space isn’t enough, the XC70’s braked towing capacity tops a very useful 2.1 tonnes. This is certainly one to watch.