Volvo XC90 on the road
PUBLISHED: 07:22 01 August 2015 | UPDATED: 07:22 01 August 2015
The second generation Volvo flagship shows that a big SUV can be versatile, nimble, sensible and safe, which is a pretty impressive feat
Volvo confounded premium rivals in 2002 by launching the XC90 SUV. And carried on doing so throughout that car’s 12-year production life; a long time in the car market and proof that the Swedish premium brand hit the bull’s eye. It’s done it again with a star replacement.
Retaining the seven-seat format that gave the original a flying start, the new Mk2 (from £45,750) is squarer, delivering a genuinely roomy third row of seats catering for adults up to five feet seven.
Folding all five rear seats (fully flat, unlike some SUVs) also creates a capacious load area of 1,899 litres, so the big Swede can be both luxury motor and workhorse.
This versatility is enhanced by thinner seat cushions that still manage to surpass the benchmark comfort of the old car and crown an aura of quality throughout.
No wonder Volvo expects half of UK customers to opt for entry level Momentum trim and its generous standard spec; it’s all the luxury most will need. The rest will go for luxury Inscription trim (20 per cent) or the sporty R-Design look (30) arriving later.
UK versions have futuristic ‘Thor’s Hammerhead’ headlights, setting the tone for clean-cut lines, but the XC90 stands out as much for what’s beneath the bodywork: it pioneers how Volvo wants to build a whole new generation of cars.
Its underpinnings can be scaled up or down for spin-off models and, typically, incorporates the latest safety kit.
The XC90 also has only two-litre, four-cylinder engines, but the different variants offer many options to buyers through turbo and supercharging, while a hybrid is due later.
However, like the choice of trim, most buyers are expected to go for the entry powertrain: the 225bhp diesel has plenty of power for the light yet strong body and, with just 149g/km of CO2 emissions, it’s easy on the conscience and road tax (£145 a year).
Road manners are excellent: I drove the car in the Yorkshire Dales, where it felt nimble and comfortable, with just a hint of lean on the bends; it actually felt like I was piloting a compact SUV rather than a seven-seater.
Interior refinement is also impressive and, as ever with Volvo, the Scandinavian design ensures that everything is simply and well arranged to be close to hand and easy on the eye.
So here’s to another 12 years of XC90 success.
Price: from £45,750
Driving appeal: ****
Running costs: ****
How green?: ****
Best rival: BMW X5
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