TEST DRIVE | New Volvo XC90
The previous Volvo XC90 was so successful that Volvo kept it in production for over 10 years, with just a very minor facelift towards its end. It was a big functional car with premium credentials and excellent reliability so this all new model has a lot to live up to.
Lets start with the way it looks. The previous model was a little conservative and boring in the styling department, even for early 2000’s. It was driven by mums and nobody else. In fact I challenge you to recall a time when you’ve seen dad in the driver’s seat of an XC90.
I personally think the new XC90 is one of the most handsome big cars on sale today. Car styles are evolving every year – just look at the new Range Rover and Mercedes S-Class which have really shaken up the 4×4 and luxury saloon sectors respectively, and Volvo have followed suit with this rather futuristic looking machine. The huge grille and fancy LED headlights (more on them later) dominate the front and lead your eye back to the nicely rounded rear with just the right amount of chrome detailing the exterior.
In terms of functionality and space, the XC90 has the Porsche Cayenne and the Range Rover licked. Boot space is as vast as Volvo’s estate cars and the two rear child seats are easy to pull up from the boot floor. I call them child seats but they can accommodate most adults in relative comfort. Luggage space, or more appropriately ‘pram space’, is still ample with the back seats up. There are also lots of large cubby holes located throughout the cabin. It’s a very well packaged car indeed.
Safety is obviously the number one priority and Volvo have really done a great job with stuffing this new car full of the latest tech such as window airbags for all three rows of seats and a system which can allow the car to drive itself in slow traffic to avoid low speed collisions. Lane departure warning comes as standard on all models too.
Behind the wheel it’s a real treat for the senses. The futuristic style continues with there being only 8 physical buttons in the car, most things are controlled by the tablet-like screen in the middle of the dash. A huge LCD display replaces the traditional analogue speedo and rev dials. The only other car in this category that offers this is the Range Rover and I actually prefer the XC90’s display and interface to the Range Rover’s. It’s a lot more vibrant and animated.
Prices begin at £45,000 and engines available include a 2.0-litre petrol or diesel up to a ‘T8 Twin Engine’ which is a petrol plug-in hybrid with 320hp plus 87hp available from the hybrid battery. Unfortunately this engine does whack the price up by almost £10,000. If it was my money I’d stay sensible and go for the 2.0-litre diesel which feels powerful, punchy and it’s economical – you’ll achieve around 35mpg from normal driving which is acceptable for a car this huge. Being this huge, however, you’d expect better rear visibility from the interior mirror – it isn’t great.
The optional air suspension does a great job of ironing out any lumps and bumps the road has and it doesn’t feel sporty. If you want sporty, buy a Cayenne Turbo and leave it in sport mode. A vehicle of this size and weight should not feel sporty so well done to Volvo for not going down same route as many other SUV manufacturers. You can spec enormous flashy 22″ rims at just over £3,000 which will diminish the ride quality slightly.
As far as optional extras go, there is nothing too radical and ground-breaking to report here. You can spec the usual gadgets we’ve come to expect on luxury SUVs now such as 360-degree parking camera (essential because of the poor rear visibility!) and head-up display, heated seats and comfort seats. As one would expect from a Volvo, an almost endless list of various roof racks, dog cages, luggage nets and child seats can also be added.
Those beautifully designed headlights are brilliant and clear when night falls. Volvo call them “Thor’s Hammer” headlights, obviously because the ‘T’ looks like a war hammer and this is the first Volvo car to feature this new lighting system and ‘T’-shaped DRL which will be appearing on the next generation of Volvo cars beginning with this XC90.
It’s big, handsome, safe and practical. In fact I struggled to find any negatives and niggles during my short but enjoyable time with the XC90 so for that reason, it scores a 9/10 from me.