Paul is a successful middle-aged senior executive, careful with his money and trying to not let brand and media hype get in the way of practical decision-making. “I see where the Volvo XC90 has done extremely well in recent NZ car awards and it’s a vehicle that fits my needs and budget but the conservative side of me says be careful what you wish for,” says Paul.
Rest assured, the Volvo XC90 didn’t pick up all those awards because the judges felt sorry for the brand’s sometimes troubled history.
While safety is still a definite strong point, the brand has moved on under its new ownership, and gone on to become a manufacturer of a more complete and desirable motor vehicle. Though points are always awarded for safety, more and more mainstream vehicles are either matching or not far behind the luxury brands in that department these days, so it’s not the standalone winning feature it once was.
The budget: $110,000
The appeal of this vehicle is its overall calmness and inviting exterior looks. Once inside the high-quality levels include soft Napa leather trim and interior colour choice. The winning feature for many will be the ease of which driver and passenger can navigate their way around all the on-board features using the SENSUS interface system.
Performance-wise the $104,900 Inscription model turns itself from passive to as aggressive as you want to be with its 2L, 4-cylinder twin-turbo diesel engine (165kW/ 470Nm) and 8-speed transmission. The engine performance can be bolstered (177/500) with a Polestar option. It’s my one criticism of the Inscription.
Potential buyers are asked to pay an additional $6280 for heated seats, driver support pack — including a brilliant 360 degree camera — and the added power and torque. In today’s competitive world some of those features could be expected to be fitted as standard equipment.
Few buyers are going to rush out and buy without checking out the opposition and the Q7 is one model that should come into consideration. Performance-wise, the V6 160kW TDI ($111,900) model is very similar to the standard Volvo diesel engine (160/500) and 8-speed transmission. Specification levels need to be compared closely along with optional extras.
The Q7 has a little more of an aggressive style about it which may appeal to those looking to prioritise appeal more from the driver’s seat only.
The interior layout of this 200t F Sport AWD ($94,900) may not suit your needs but overall the Lexus brand always makes a good comparison in terms of retail price, standard specification levels including safety, and high-quality finish. The major difference sits under the bonnet where a 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine is used in preference to a diesel. It produces 175kW of power and 350Nm of torque.
Noise levels are down, as will be the long-term servicing costs.
Driven recommends: XC90 is the benchmark in this market segment and price range.