27 Sep 2015 | 03.28 pm
Quantum Leap For Volvo XC90
The new model drives a great deal better than its predecessor
27 Sep 2015 | 03.28 pm
Volvo’s new XC90 is a quantum leap forward that justifies the hype, writes Olive Keogh.
In 2010, Chinese motor group Zhejiang Geely bought Volvo from Ford. At the time, Volvo was in a bit of a rut, with few new models in the pipeline and a heavy reliance on Ford for platforms and engines. Since then, Geely has invested heavily in its acquisition, and a reinvented Volvo is emerging with newfound confidence in itself and its products.
The original XC90 was a big hit for Volvo, reaching global sales of nearly 640,000 units. The second generation is a quantum leap forward and stacked high with tech, safety and comfort features. There’s been a lot of hype about the newcomer, not least because it’s showcasing the brand’s future direction. But it is hype with substance and an indication of what to expect from next-generation products with 100% Volvo DNA.
Volvo has always struggled to break through the German stranglehold on the luxury segment and this time the company has decided to take a ‘less is more’ approach. In this case ‘less’ means simpler. Volvo has significantly upped the technology in the new XC90 but has put a huge effort into making it easy to access. For example, the touchscreen has just eight buttons to control its main functions. According to Volvo, this compares with six or seven times that in similar vehicles from the Germans.
Volvo continues to make safety a priority and firsts on the new model include automatic braking at intersections if there’s a risk of an accident. Also new is a run-off road protection system that detects if the vehicle has left the road and automatically tightens the seatbelts to absorb the likely impact.
The XC90 is a roomy, family-friendly seven-seater with a quality finish throughout. The test car came with the Family Pack (€650), which includes an integrated child’s booster cushion, child safety locks and integrated sun curtains for the rear doors.
The new model drives a great deal better than its predecessor in all respects. It feels tauter and more responsive, with improved feel from the steering and a firm but comfortable ride. For a smoother passage, electronic air suspension is available as an option at €3,250. The 2.0-litre diesel unit on board is linked to an 8-speed automatic gearbox and is both smooth and accomplished. The fuel consumption for such a heavyweight is respectable, as is its 0-100km/h speed of just under eight seconds. The new XC90 is big and bulky but it is easy to manage thanks to a respectable turning circle.
Volvo is also ticking the boxes when it comes to smart applications of connected car technologies. The one I particularly like is the company’s recently trialed app that allows your online shopping to be delivered directly to your car in your absence.
All of this extra bling and upgraded equipment adds cost and prices have gone up compared with the outgoing model. However, it is probably misleading to make a direct comparison, as the differences between generation one and generation two of the new XC90 are mighty.
Model: Volvo XC90 Momentum
Engine: D5 2-litre diesel (225bhp)
Safety: AWD with instant traction control, hill-start assist, adaptive brake lights, rear-park assist, tyre pressure monitoring, City Safety, SIPS, WHIPS, ABS, EBD, EBA
Verdict: Big, bold and appealing. Poised to give the Germans (and Range Rover) a good run for their money.