New Volvo XC90

Setting new standards in 7 seater luxury SUVs, Volvo’s XC90 is an ideal choice for active family life.

article image volvoMuscular, large and imposing. Expensive looking and elegant, with plenty of curb appeal – this super-versatile vehicle is more than capable of tackling any transportation demands that could be asked of it. Whether ferrying bales of hay for the horses, golf caddies to the club, a wage’s worth of Waitrose shopping or kids and their friends to the rugby – there’s room for all. The rear-most seats are even big enough for anyone up to 170cm (5ft 7in) tall – very rare for seven-seat SUVs, MPVs or estates.

The cabin is light and airy too, with excellent visibility and is a minimalist haven of high quality natural trims including soft leathers, Scandinavian wood and crystal glass. What’s immediately noticeable when you slip inside is the lack of fussy buttons and switches, which Volvo’s clever designers have replaced with a super-easy to navigate, class-leading nine-inch touchscreen in the middle of the centre console – which is combined with an intelligent voice control system. This all new XC90 offers unparalleled connectivity in its class too, with access to a wide range of cloud-based apps via the standard built-in car modem (an optional SIM card with a mobile data allowance can also be utilised). You can use this internet connection to create a WiFi hotspot, so passengers can connect their mobile devices via the car. Apple CarPlay is an option, and allows you to enjoy selected functionality of your Apple device and its apps via voice control, the touchscreen or the buttons on the steering wheel.

The different trims offer a comprehensive array of luxury features as standard and plenty of optional extras. The entry-level trim is Momentum, followed by the dynamic R-Design up to the truly luxurious Inscription which comes with Nappa soft leather upholstery, 20” alloy wheels, a 12.3” active TFT driver information display, Leather instrument panel and door tops and even sun curtains in the rear doors – to name just a few – the spec lists read like a wonderfully long car equipment wish list.

As you’d expect from Volvo, Safety is paramount. Every XC90 comes with Volvo On Call as standard. This is a built-in assistance system that includes an app that works on your smartphone or smartwatch. It offers a range of clever solutions that allow you to control various functions of your car (such as remotely locking and unlocking the doors and, on the T8, setting the climate control in advance), and it can even automatically alert the emergency services if you’re involved in an accident. It is the actually the safest Volvo ever built, and offers the most comprehensive and technologically sophisticated standard safety package in the car industry. It also features two world-first safety technologies – Run-off Road Protection and Auto Brake at Junctions – which are all part of Volvo’s advanced suite of intelligent safety systems.

Feature image volvoOut on the road, despite its size, it proved remarkably agile. We felt the comfort suspension setting to be far too soft and bouncy for our particular tastes, but switch on to sport and it was about perfect. The new Swedish-designed and built Drive-E engines are all lightweight four-cylinder 2.0-litre units, willing, flexible and highly responsive. The fact the Hybrid model we had on test could do the 0-62mph sprint in just above 5 seconds is pretty impressive – especially when you consider just how sizable the vehicle is. They are all highly efficient too though, with very good economy and low emissions.

There are three engines offered– the D5 diesel, T6 petrol and the new T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid – we tested and thoroughly enjoyed both the D5 R-Design and also the T8 range topping Inscription. Both genuinely excellent cars.

The D5 twin-turbo diesel – which is the top seller in the UK, develops 225hp and 470Nm of torque. Top speed is 137mph and 0-62mph takes 7.8 seconds. Combined fuel economy is 49.6mpg, while the official CO2 figure is 149g/km, which equates to a Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) tax rating of 27% in entry-level Momentum trim.

The T6 turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine develops 320hp and 400Nm of torque. Top speed is 143mph and 0-62mph takes 6.5 seconds. Combined fuel economy is 36.7mpg, while the official CO2 figure is 179g/km. Its BIK tax rating is 30% in Momentum trim.

And, the top-of-the-range T8 is an innovative petrol-electric plug-in hybrid, featuring both a front-mounted 320hp/400Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine and a rear-mounted 87hp/240Nm electric motor. It gives an extraordinary mix of performance and economy, with a combined power output of 407hp, while maximum torque is 640Nm. Top speed is 140mph and 0-62mph acceleration takes only 5.6 seconds. Despite such strong performance, combined fuel economy is 134.5mpg. This translates to CO2 figures of just 49g/km, which results in a BIK tax rating of 5%.

The T8 can be driven for up to 27 miles on electric power alone – enough for most people’s daily commute – so on many journeys it will not emit any exhaust pollutants at all. Its 400V lithium-ion battery (which is located between the front seats to improve weight distribution without affecting the amount of space available for passengers) can be fully recharged in as little as two and a half hours using the optional 16-amp fast charge cable. Fully charging via the standard three-pin plug cable takes between three and a half hours (at 10 amps) and six hours (at six amps). This particular XC90 actually has a different mechanical setup to others. Its petrol engine drives the front wheels only, while its electric motor drives the rear wheels. This means that, depending on the road conditions and the drive mode selected, the T8 can operate in front-, rear- or all-wheel drive.

The electronically controlled mechanical AWD system in the D5 and T6 automatically sends torque to the wheels with the most grip, ensuring maximum possible traction and safety. The front-to-rear torque split changes constantly, as the sophisticated electronics that control the hydraulic Borg Warner clutch determine the most effective distribution of torque.

Despite some stiff competition in its class, living with two XC90s on test proved Volvo certainly has set some near on unbeatable standards with this latest version of its much loved model. Little wonder it’s selling so well and is on the wish list of many discerning drivers through the UK and beyond. We highly recommend.