Countdown to new Volvo XC90 over
MOST AWAITED VOLVO EVER FINALLY HITS OUR ROADS, WRITES COLIN SMITH
Carmakers can get a little excited with talk of defining moments, game-changing new products and fresh directions for their brand.
Occasionally the talk isn’t overplayed, however, and that’s the case with the new Volvo XC90 now reaching New Zealand roads after a long wait.
I couldn’t disagree with Volvo New Zealand general manager Steve Kenchington, who launched the XC90 by saying “there has never been a more important vehicle in Volvo’s history”.
It’s not just that the new XC90 finally replaces a vehicle which was launched in 2002 and helped to shape a generation of premium SUaV contenders.
This all-new XC90 is also the starting point to an entirely refreshed Volvo range that will roll out over the next four years.
The second generation XC90 is the first application of Volvo’s SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) vehicle platform that will underpin those future models. It’s also an important showcase for its four-cylinder Drive-E engine strategy, being the largest vehicle the hi-tech 2.0 litre four-cylinder engine family will be required to motivate.
Along with the platform and powertrain efficiency technologies, the XC90 has updated design themes and very impressive interior execution featuring new connectivity and infotainment.
The XC90 has launched in New Zealand this month with T6 petrol and D5 diesel engine choices in entry model Momentum and higher-grade Inscription grades. All models have seven seats, all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission with the price entry point hitting the important sub-$100,000 position.
Sports theme R-Design variants will follow soon and the full force of Volvo’s technology and efficiency mission arrives early in 2016 with the petrol-electric plug-in hybrid T8 Twin Engine model that promises ultra-low emissions and fuel consumption with 40km electric driving range.
The Drive-E engines achieve economies of scale from a 2.0 litre four-cylinder block that can be built in both petrol and diesel applications and offer a wide range of outputs.
The XC90 gets the D5 version — a twin turbocharged common rail diesel — and the T6 direct injected petrol, which employs both supercharging and turbocharging to boost power output and torque.
These engines replace larger displacement and thirstier five- and six-cylinder units. On the road, any question marks about small capacity performance are soon set aside. The diesel has muscular torque and strong response from low engine speeds while the refined petrol unit always feels significantly bigger than 2.0 litres.
In both cases a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic adds to the refinement and response.
The XC90 styling features a wide track stance and long wheelbase proportions with a distinctive front-end design. The most striking single feature is the “Thor’s Hammer” LED daytime running light signature integrated with the main headlight.
At the rear, a high-rise tail light cluster dominates the rear pillars and provides an instantly recognisable Volvo design feature.
Also among the themes of the XC90 is a concerted effort to look Swedish and create a clear point of difference from German rivals.
The cabin is the primary focus of this with its modern and minimalist layout. Excellent seats offer comfortable support and plenty of adjustment — a long established Volvo hallmark along with clear visibility and instruments.
Volvo’s new Sensus communication and infotainment system, already seen on recently updated models, takes full flight in the XC90. It has a large, portrait-format tablet on the centre dash that runs the car’s systems using touchscreen, swipe and pinch gestures. The car needs only eight buttons on its uncluttered fascia and your eye is drawn to the quality of materials and the fit-and-finish rather than complexity of control layouts.
It’s the D5 Momentum model which opens the XC90 range with a $97,900 pricetag while the D5 Inscription is $104,900 and the D5 R-design will be $106,900.
The D5 power plant produces 165kW at 4250rpm and has 470Nm of torque available from 1750-2750rpm while meeting Euro6 emission standards, and a claimed combined-cycle fuel consumption figure of 5.8L/100km. Acceleration from 0-100km/h is 7.8 seconds.
For the Momentum model the exterior package includes 19-inch alloy wheels, silver roof rails, LED headlights with active bending and active high-beam functions and a gloss black grille.
Also standard are a powered tailgate, four-zone air conditioning, power front seats, leather trim, keyless start, rain sensor wipers, reversing camera and front/rear parking sensors with park assist pilot, cruise control and an 8-inch graphic instrument cluster.
The Sensus audio and communication system includes satellite navigation and Bluetooth phone and audio streaming.
Volvo’s focus on both passive and active safety means the latest generation City Safety low-speed collision mitigation is standard with pedestrian and cyclist recognition capability and a new intersection braking function.
There’s also Stability Control with Corner Traction Control and Roll Stability Control while Driver Alert Control, Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control and Lane Departure Warning are standard.
With the T6 supercharged/turbo engine, the XC90 has 236kW available at 5700rpm and 400Nm of torque from 2200-4500rpm which trims the 0-100km/h figure to 6.5secs. Fuel consumption is rated at 8.0L/100km.
The T6 will come in two models — the Inscription priced at $110,900 while the later-arriving T6 R-Design will be $112,900.
Stepping up to the Inscription model adds 20-inch alloy wheels, integrated roof rails, dual integrated tail pipes, a bright grille finish, illuminated door handles and puddle lights and a hands-free tailgate opening function.
Inside the Inscription, features include nappa leather trim, a 12.3-inch graphic instrument cluster, metal mesh decor inlays and a higher grade ambient lighting system. It also adds keyless entry and the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), Cross Traffic Alert and the front and rear collision warning and mitigation support.
R-Design features emphasise the sports theme with gearshift paddles and drive mode settings. The interior has a charcoal headlining with specific R Design carpets, carbon fibre trim inlays, metal pedals, a perforated leather steering wheel and sports seats.
The exterior of the XC90 R-Design has unique 20-inch alloy wheels, matte silver mirror caps and R Design grille, front spoiler and tail pipe treatments.
Early customer inquiry suggests the D5 Momentum could be the model that appeals to existing XC90 owners and the T6 petrol and Inscription equipment package will achieve conquest sales from other brands.
Kenchington said he’s also had conquests from such vehicles as Ford’s seven-seater Territory.
Competition in the premium SUV segment will get interesting with the arrival of second generation Audi Q7 and rebadged Mercedes GLE (formerly ML) range.
also available for the XC90: 21/22- inch wheels, Urban and Rugged exterior styling kits, skid plate set, power sunroof, air suspension, 360-degree parking camera, head-up display system and Sensus premium sound system by Bowers & Wilkins.
Volvo XC90 line-up
XC90 D5 Momentum — $97,500
XC90 D5 Inscription — $104,900
XC90 D5 R-Design — $106,900
XC90 T6 Inscription — $110,900
XC90 T6 R-Design — $112,900
XC90 T8 Twin Engine Inscription — $134,900 (Feb 2016 arrival)
XC90 T8 Twin Engine R-Design — $136,900 (Feb 2016 arrival)