KEY to the success of the new generation Volvo XC60 is the way it drives.

Volvo drivers are usually not by nature looking for a stiff chassis and a harsh firmness to shake the fillings from their teeth.

No, Volvo drivers want a relaxed drive – and that’s just what they get with this, the second generation of the company’s best-seller, a premium mid-size SUV that brings levels of safety, sophistication and connectivity that put it right at the top of the class.

But hold on a minute. Don’t get the impression that the XC60 is going to provide for a boring journey behind the wheel. It may have an arsenal of safety features that are the envy of the auto industry - technologies that prevent accidents and protect and are helping Volvo achieve its vision that by 2020 nobody shall be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car - but it also has the potential to excite if you so choose.

Built on the scalable new platform that will see extensive use across the brand’s range of models, it handles exceptionally well through its independent front and rear suspension and utilises fully speed-dependent steering with excellent feedback.

The XC60 is the first of Volvo’s 60 series models to be built on this platform, which is designed to incorporate next-generation electrification and connectivity.

Based on its understanding of its customers, engineers have tuned the dynamics to be controllable, predictable and comfortable. And being comfortable is, I suspect, the most important feature.

If you step up from a D4 to a D5 turbocharged diesel in the range you get Volvo’s very own PowerPulse system, which enables the engine to respond as soon as you touch the accelerator to overcome turbo lag. The sprint figures are the best in class.

There’s a T5 petrol option too, and a T8 twin engine plug-in hybrid, but here we concentrate on the delicious D5 diesel that has served Volvo so well.

The extra slug of power provided by the D5 over the D4 makes it likely to be the top seller in the range, which starts with Momentum trim and steps up to R-Design and Inscription but also includes so-called Pro versions for a more dynamic drive.

Every version gets an all-wheel drive system that operates below 25mph and automatically activates hill descent control. On models fitted with air suspension, ground clearance is raised by 4cm.

There are five drive modes to suit your mood and the type of road surface and environment in which you might find yourself: Comfort, Eco, Dynamic, Off-Road and Individual.

Always with one eye on improving safety, the XC60 also heralds the introduction of an extension to the Blis system which prevents you from pulling out to overtake on a multi-lane road if it detects another car alongside you.

Although this remains undoubtedly a recognisable XC60 with its clean lines and quite striking details, the window line flows up towards the rear and it appears more athletic.

Exterior highlights include full LED headlights, a sculpted lower door section, optional panoramic sunroof, power-operated tailgate as standard, optional surround-view cameras and twin exhaust pipes.

The interior is simply lovely. Elegant, but with some techno wizardry available on the portrait touchscreen, it is largely free of buttons.

With heated leather seats, a superb audio system, automatic climate control and an airiness not found anywhere else in the market, you will find yourself propelled in Swedish serenity.

The new XC60 retains Volvo’s core values of offering a comfortable and premium-quality ride, but there’s a new edginess on offer too that should enable it to provide for all tastes.