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Volvo XC90 on the road

PUBLISHED: 07:22 01 August 2015 | UPDATED: 07:22 01 August 2015

Volvo XC90

Volvo XC90

Archant

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.

Volvo XC90

Price: from £45,750

Driving appeal: ****

Image: *****

Space: *****

Value: *****

Running costs: ****

Reliability: *****

How green?: ****

Best rival: BMW X5

News in brief

DS brand takes a bow

Citroën has spun off its DS premium line-up to become a standalone brand: DS.

Its debut model is the former Citroën DS5, rebadged simply as ‘DS5’. More than a classy cosmetic makeover, the DS5 also has a revised suspension and now rides with a fine balance of sportiness and comfort closer to that of the original DS, launched 60 years ago.

Sparkling deal on Mazda star

Although one of the most eagerly awaited car launches of 2015, the all-new Mazda MX-5 arrives this month with a tempting finance deal anyway. Kent-based Mazda UK is offering the stunning fourth generation model, priced from £18,495, with zero per cent finance after a 50 per cent deposit, just the pitch to attract existing sports car owners to make the change.

Into Infiniti and beyond…

All carmakers want to recruit new buyers and keep them, but Infiniti hasn’t had a smaller car to sign them up to – until now.

But Nissan’s premium arm is about to launch the all-new Q30 hatchback, rival to cars like the Audi A3 and designed to create a new army of Infiniti buyers who might later trade up to bigger Infinitis.

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