With the Volvo XC90 arriving in 2015 – and making its official SA debut at the Volvo Ocean Race in Cape Town next week – we take a look at the much-anticipated SUV.
The Volvo XC90 has been around for 12 years now, which means that it’s had a lifespan almost twice as long as any other luxury SUV range. To say that the time had come for a replacement is an understatement, but good things come to those who wait.
After months of teasing and speculation, Volvo has finally released the first images and details of the all-new XC90, which will arrive in SA in August 2015. So we still have some waiting to do, but if Volvo’s snippets about the new car are to be believed, it will be worth waiting for.
But first we should look back at how Volvo developed the new version of the SUV that rewrote the rule book in terms of space, practicality and safety.
In the late 2000s, Volvo was flailing about a bit, but then Ford sold the Swedish company to Chinese manufacturer Geely. This turned out to be just what Volvo needed, because Geely had a lot of money to spend and no qualms about investing lavishly in Volvo. The result is the new XC90, which is the first vehicle to be designed completely under Geely ownership.
We won’t dwell too much on the exterior, but it’s safe to say that most people will agree that it’s a handsome car. It’s far removed from the one it replaces, but we like the fact that Volvo has managed to come up with a design that’s aggressive and elegant at the same time.
If anything, the interior is even more impressive. The most striking feature is the tablet located in the centre console. This touch-screen interface serves as the main operating console for the cabin’s features. As a result, the interior is almost devoid of buttons, giving the Volvo a modern, minimalist feel without skimping on what the average luxury SUV customer expects these days.
According to Volvo, this represents an entirely new way for drivers to control their cars. The tablet provides access to a range of internet-based products and services.
The quality of the interior seems impeccable. Volvo has made use of materials such as soft leather, wood and a few hand-crafted items, such as the gear lever, which is made of crystal glass from Orrefors, the Swedish glassmaker.
Fans of the previous model’s huge interior will be happy to learn that the new car is still a proper seven seater. Headroom and legroom have been improved all-round, while the third row offers comfortable seating for passengers up to 1,70m tall.
To ensure that passengers are entertained in transit, Volvo teamed up with Bowers and Wilkins to create a top-of-the-line sound system. It features a 1 400-Watt amplifier, 19 Bowers and Wilkens speakers and an air-ventilated subwoofer. This is integrated into the car body, which essentially turns the whole interior space into a giant subwoofer.
As Volvo is renowned for building the world’s safest cars, the XC90 is equipped with every conceivable safety gadget. It has even invented two new safety systems, which will make the XC90 the safest, most sophisticated SUV ever sold in SA.
The first is called “run-off road protection”. The vehicle detects when the driver is gradually veering off the road and tightens the safety belts in case the worst should happen.
The second safety system allows for automatic braking at intersections. If the driver should turn in front of an oncoming car, the XC90 will brake itself. This feature should be particularly handy in SA, where motorists tend to run the traffic lights long after they’ve turned red.
These safety systems join Volvo’s other City Safety automatic braking functions, which are standard equipment in the new XC90.
“The new technologies will take us a significant step closer to our vision that no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020,” says Peter Mertens. senior vice president, research and development, of Volvo Car Group. “Our starting point on safety is the same today as it was when the company was created almost 90 years ago: real-life situations. We study data. We crunch numbers. We innovate. The result is one of the safest cars ever made.”
Not content with setting standards in safety, Volvo will also introduce a new line-up of 2,0-litre, four-cylinder Drive-E powertrains.
The top of the range XC90 T8 Twin Engine, which combines a two-litre, four-cylinder supercharged and turbocharged petrol engine with an electric motor, offers a currently unmatched combination of power (295kW) and clean operation (carbon dioxide emissions of about 60g/km). This model will be sold in SA.
The line-up includes the D5 twin turbo diesel engine providing approximately 165kW/470 Nm and fuel consumption of around 6l/100km, as well as the D4 turbo diesel engine that delivers around 140kW/400 Nm and fuel consumption of about 5l/100km.
The range offers two petrol engine options. The first is a T6 turbo engine with supercharger and turbo providing 235 kW and 400 Nm, and the second is a T5 that delivers about 187 kW and 350 Nm.
As is the norm these days, the XC90 will offer two major exterior styling themes. The Urban Luxury package combines a colour coordinated body kit with polished stainless steel details, front and rear skid plates, side scuff plates and 21-inch alloy wheels. The Rugged Luxury kit includes tech matte black exterior trim, stainless steel skid plates, running boards with illumination, integrated exhaust pipes and 22-inch alloy wheels.
The international launch is scheduled for March 2015 and the new models are due in SA next August.
Full range details and pricing will be announced closer to the launch date, but we expect the pricing to start at just under R800 000.