Volvo insists this is the start of something big: ‘this’ being the XC90 luxury sports utility vehicle. The new XC90 announces the beginning of the Swedish automobile maker’s immediate future product line-up.
Three years in the making and part of a $US11 billion investment program, the all-new XC90 marks the beginning of a new chapter in Volvo’s history, setting out the design direction, incorporating its own range of new technology and making use of new architecture that can be scaled up or down.
Volvo Car Australia shipped in examples of the new XC90 to show off to the media. “This is one of the most important days in our history,” said Kevin McCann, VCA managing director. “We are not just launching a car, but re-launching our brand.
“It marks a new era for our company, the all-new XC90 paving the way for a portfolio of exciting new cars to come in the following years,” he added.
The new XC90 offers a range of 2.0-litre, four-cylinder Drive-E powertrains, with a combination of performance and fuel-efficiency. The top of the range XC90 Twin Engine mates a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder supercharged and turbocharged petrol engine with an electric motor, making it the first seven-seat hybrid SUV.
Power is put to ground via an eight-speed automatic transmission, with all-wheel drive courtesy of a Haldex system.
With a starting price of $89,950, plus on-road costs, the XC90 comes in two specification levels – Momentum and Inscription – the range will be joined by the end of the year by the flagship R-Design, pushing the price to $122,950.
First impressions show typical Volvo continuing to live by the rule of Swedish simplicity being the keynote of good design. The XC90 will be the first Volvo to feature the company’s more prominent iron mark with the arrow aligned with the diagonal slash across the grille, which with the T-shaped ‘Thor’s Hammer’ daytime running lights introduces a distinctive face for the generation of cars to follow.
A larger reshaped bonnet, the beltline and sharper shoulders leading to a reworked rear light set-up are other design signatures that will be found on future Volvos. Wheel diameters vary from 19 to 22 inches.
The interior, says MD McCann, has a strong connection to the key elements of the Swedish lifestyle: generous space, the celebration of light and the focus on wellbeing. Straight away, occupants are introduced to the last mentioned, run-off road protection, a world first.
Running off the road is a common type of crash, so Volvo Cars has developed Safe Positioning in which front safety belts tighten to keep the occupants in position as long as the car is in motion.
To help prevent spinal injuries, energy is absorbed by a damper between the seat and seat frame cushions when the car makes a hard landing. This is capable of reducing vertical forces on the passenger by up to a third.
A genuine seven seater in tiered, seats make generous room for passengers in the second and third rows, the latter offering comfort for two passengers up to 170 cm tall.
With all seats taken there is still enough room for 398 litres of luggage. With the third row backs flattened, cargo space is extended to 1091 litres; and with the second row arranged likewise, volume is a cavernous 1900 litres. A powered tailgate, operated by a swift air kick, helps with loading and unloading.
Artful work is everywhere, with materials such as soft leather and wood with handcrafted details, including a gear-lever made of crystal glass from Orrefors, the famous Swedish glassmaker, and diamond-cut controls for the start / stop button as well as the volume control.
The cabin is clutter free, with an almost total absence of buttons and switches, systems are controlled via the infra-red touch(less)screen, which includes swipe-and-pinch function a la tablet.
The ubiquitous Bluetooth provides the latest link with the outside world, while a panoramic sunroof lets in plenty of light.
The entry-level XC90 D5 makes use of a twin-turbo diesel engine producing 165 kW, and 470 Nm 4250 between 1750 and 2500 rpm. We found there to be a touch of hesitation through turbo lag on the get-go. Beyond that it is smooth and quiet, and gets to 100 km/h in 7.8 seconds. Fuel consumption is a claimed 6.2 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined urban / highway cycle.
Petrol power puts $4000 on the price, with the T6, incorporating both turbocharger and supercharger, pumping out 236 kW and 400 Nm. The rush to 100 km/h comes up in 6.5 sec; average fuel consumption is 8.5 litres per 100 kilometres. Not surprisingly performance is a tad more spritely.
Steering is well weighted across the range.
Constructed of 30 per cent high-strength steel, weight saved is a hefty 125 kg.
Uneven road surfaces are not totally subdued. The choppy ride can be pretty much rectified by an outlay of an extra $3760 for the optional air suspension pack, which lifts and lowers the body according to the driving style or terrain. Not that the XC90 is a ridgy-didge off-roader.
In the race for the autonomous automobile, Volvo, with its mantra to have no occupant killed or seriously injured in one of its new cars by the year 2020, seems to on the way to this seemingly impossible vision.
A swag of safety systems is aimed at keeping the XC90 on the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, the best of the bunch are extra cost options. The base model Momentum has a full suite of airbags, automated emergency braking, lane departure warning and reversing camera.
Volvo brings to the market automatic braking if the driver turns in front of an oncoming car. The XC90 detects a potential crash and brakes automatically to avoid a collision or mitigate the consequences.
Additional safety functions include pre-crash protection from behind in which rear facing radars detect if a rear impact is imminent and safety belts are tightened in advance to hold occupants firmly in position. The rear lights start flashing to warn the driver behind.
The new XC90 Volvo follows the vehicle in front and automatically brakes and steers to avoid the vehicles coming together. It works only at speeds below 50 km/h.
Volvo teamed with engineers at Bowers & Wilkins, the British audio equipment company that is involved in acoustics at no less than Abbey Road Studios in London, made famous by the Beatles.
The system comprises a 12-channel Harman 1400 W amplifier serving 19 Bowers & Wilkins speakers. There’s an air-ventilated subwoofer integrated into the body of the car, rather than being a freestanding box bolted on. This increases the subwoofer’s capacity to pulse air, which enables extremely low bass tones down to 20 Hz. It, in essence, turns the whole interior space into a giant subwoofer.
Volvo tells us this results in a recreation of the acoustics in the Gothenburg Concert Hall in Volvo’s home town.
This Premium System is one of three available for the XC90, the others being the High Performance System with a 224 W amplifier, 12 speakers and the option to add the fresh air subwoofer, and the Performance System, which features a 52 W amplifier and six speakers.
There are two major exterior styling themes. The Urban Luxury package combines a colour co-ordinated body kit with polished stainless steel detail such as front deco frames, front and rear skid plates and side scuff plates. Twenty-one inch exclusive polished wheels complete the elegant appearance.
A Rugged Luxury kit enhances the robustness of the SUV with tech matte black exterior trim, stainless steel skid plates, running boards with illumination and integrated exhaust pipes. This variant has 22-inch wheels.
To coincide with the launch of the new XC90 Volvo Car Australia has launched Volvo SmartCare with which customers receive the full range of car servicing options, such as oil changes and software performance checks, with the option of maintenance extra, which includes brake pad checks, all over three, or five years.
AT A GLANCE
Volvo XC90 Momentum D5 diesel: $89,950
Volvo XC90 Inscription D5 diesel: $96,950
Volvo XC90 R-Design D5 diesel: $97,950
Volvo XC90 Momentum T6 petrol: $93,950
Volvo XC90 Inscription T6 petrol: $100,950
Volvo XC90 R-Design T6 petrol: $101,950
Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine R-Design: $122,950
Note: These prices are the Manufacturer’s Recommended Retail Price and include Luxury Car Tax of 33 per cent. They exclude dealer delivery, government and statutory charges. Contact your local Volvo dealer for drive-away prices.