Volvo XC90 driven

* New diesel for Volvo's best seller * Prices start at £34,795... * but big discounts available...

Volvo XC90 driven

By anyones reckoning the Volvo XC90 is long in the tooth its now in its ninth year on sale.

As a large 4x4, its also something of an anachronism in Volvos model line-up, which has been promoted as increasingly modern, efficient and green in recent years.

Yet, boosted by a surge in sales when winter set in, the Volvo XC90 was the firms best selling model in Britain last year.

Nor has the company sat still in updating the car. As of late last year, it started selling the XC90 with its Euro V emissions-compliant five-cylinder D5 diesel engine, with the net benefit of both improved performance and fuel consumption over the older engine.

The result is a boost in power from 182bhp to 197bhp and a boost in torque from 295lb ft to 313lb ft. All this is achieved with an improvement in fuel economy from 32.2 to 34mpg.

Despite these benefits, you can't escape the fact this engine is still a grumbly five-cylinder diesel. Under power it is intrusively noisy, while cruising along at any speed it still makes enough of a din to force you to raise your voice.

That said, it's easy to see why the XC90 appeals to so many buyers. Its still a comfortable, classy and practical way to carry seven if you have two small children in the back. The ride is impressive, and the handling adequate, although the steering is particularly numb.

What's more, there are some massive discounts available at the moment, so if you're prepared to haggle hard and scour the internet, you could be nabbing a bargain and get many thousands off the list price.