Second gen Volvo XC90 arrives
11:50 09 June 2015
The flagship Volvo SUV has a bold new look . . . and that’s just for starters
Volvo’s first-gen XC90 has only now been replaced. It was a pivotal model for the Swedish firm but after close to a decade-and-a-half, it’s time for a 21st century replacement
Given the importance of this second-generation XC90, it would be easier to list what hasn’t changed in the transition from old to new. That’s right, this is a properly all-new premium SUV. The car’s bold exterior look is just one of many key changes to the XC90 recipe, as Volvo is setting its sights even higher in the fiercely competitive premium SUV market.
The Swedish firm routinely name checks the hugely popular Range Rover Sport as a direct rival, and with this XC90’s enhanced luxury specification it’s also knocking on the door of the mighty Range Rover itself. Factor in a wealth of safety kit, clever new engines and an infotainment system boasting tablet-like ease of use and it’s clear Volvo is aiming high.
Looks and image
Volvo cars have always possessed unusual and often unique styling and aesthetic character - it’s what has set them apart from the crowd. This second generation XC90 stays true to its maker’s design philosophy, although the end result is more Apple iPhone than Nokia brick. Clean lines, an overall lack of fuss and a sprinkling of thoughtful details help the XC90 stand apart from the me-too generic SUVs already on sale.
Space and practicality
For the UK the default choice is a seven seat cabin, which means a two-three-two layout and the rear seats realistically best suited for children. Modest size adults will fit, but you wouldn’t want to go further than a quick trip to the pub. Still, that’s better than most rivals and, when not in use, you can fold them flat to form part of an expanded rear load space. Fold the second row and you’ve got yourself a very posh and cavernous van. Back in the cabin, there’s ample space for adults and their belongings.
Behind the wheel
In a bid to seriously reduce emissions and fuel consumption Volvo’s brave new world revolves around four-cylinder power. Be it diesel, petrol or plug-in hybrid, smaller but usefully powerful engines will be powering all XC90s. The D5 diesel driven here offers a reasonable 225 horsepower, complementing the 320 horsepower T6 petrol and 400 horsepower ‘Twin Engine’ T8 hybrid.
There’s a clear refinement and comfort bias when driving the D5; this is no edgy driver’s car like BMW’s X5 but its rounded performance is much easier to live with. The Volvo’s accurate steering, lofty driving position, slick-shifting eight-speed auto gearbox and air suspension (steel is also available) all conspire to make the XC90 a polished and agreeable experience. Despite its size it’s also surprisingly agile, while the all-wheel drive system only sends power rearwards when needed - saving on fuel and further boosting refinement.
Value for money
Volvo is making a big deal about the XC90’s package of safety and comfort kit, which it believes positions the car ahead of a number of key established rivals. From the predictable array of airbags and electronic stability systems to the advanced cruise control, hazard detection, auto brake functions and systems designed to minimise injuries if it goes horribly wrong, Volvo has your back. It also has your ear thanks to an easy to use entertainment system, complete with oversize touchscreen and intuitive tablet-style, swipe-friendly way of navigating its many functions. And don’t forget those engines; they’ve been designed to burn and emit considerably less then the old units in the first-gen XC90. n