Volvo's XC90 goes on sale in Spring 2015 and is the Swedish firm’s offering in the competitive premium seven-seat SUV market. But that sentence is far too simplistic to describe this Volvo as this is one of 2015’s most important cars.
Volvo is calling the XC90 the car that is helping them re-launch the brand 85 years on from its birth. That’s no small claim. The car debuts an outstanding compliment of technology and is, according to the company themselves, the safest car it has ever built.
It shows off a brand new design language – one that will be seen on Volvos for many years to come and is Volvo’s best attempt yet at becoming a truly premium car maker that can take on the likes of BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.
When it arrives in the spring of 2015, UK buyers will have the choice of three trim levels. Gone are conservative trim names and in their places are ‘Momentum’, ‘R-Design’ and ‘Inscription’ while under the bonnet you’ll find four-cylinder engines – just like every model in the rest of the Volvo range in the near feature, there won’t be any five-, six- or eight-cylinder units.
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As well as gaining new owners, Volvo has also embarked on a new design direction with its flagship SUV. Wrapped in sophisticated new metalwork, the XC90’s styling cues adopted from the Volvo Coupe Concept are clear.
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The prominent chrome trimmed grille is a first from Volvo and will become a trademark feature on future models, as too will the T-shaped LED daytime running lights (called Thor). An elongated but chiseled bonnet cuts back into the car’s shoulder line, stretching all the way to the tapered rear lights, exaggerating the XC90’s broad stance.
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Volvo designer Anders Gunnarson told Auto Express he and his team wanted to give the car real confidence on the road and the car’s strong proportions were helped with the new SPA platform that encourages well-portioned designs.
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The bold redesign extends to cabin, too. A new tablet-like nin-inch touchscreen is the centerpiece, replacing a multitude of buttons and dials with a clean, clutter-free dash.
Elsewhere, there are swathes of wood and leather throughout the cabin with handcrafted highlights such as the crystal-glass gear level (on the plug-in hybrid model) and diamond cut designs for the starter button and volume controls.
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The reveal of the second-gen XC90 isn’t just the re-launch of the SUV it also signifies the rebirth of Volvo. Key to the SUV’s new footprint is the adoption of the Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), which will underpin a whole new portfolio of models currently under development from Volvo.
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It’s lighter, stronger and therefore safer than the platform employed by the current XC90 and also significantly increases passenger space in the second and third row of seats. Volvo claims the rearmost seats will comfortably accommodate adult passengers as tall as 5ft 6in.
The innovative XC90 running gear brings with it a lineup of new and efficient petrol and diesel engines. All will be 2.0-litre four-cylinder units and part of the new Drive-E family.
The 316bhp T6 petrol is both turbo- and super-charged, while the 222bhp D5 diesel is twin-turbocharged, with both engines mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
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A new 390bhp plug-in hybrid powertrain will also be offered in the XC90, which combines the 2.0-litre petrol engine and an electric motor. Despite being the most powerful variant it’s also the most efficient thanks to CO2 emission of only 60g/km. Its closest rival, the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, only manages 79g/km.
Only all-wheel drive XC90s will be available form launch in April 2015, with a front-wheel drive 187bhp D4 diesel offering arriving September next year.
Alongside the huge leaps forward Volvo has made with efficiency of the XC90, the SUV also boasts two world first safety technologies.
A run-off road protection package tightens seatbelts and activates energy-absorbing technology in the seats when the car detects challenging terrain ahead.
Another system is the auto-braking feature, which cuts in if a driver pulls out in front of on coming traffic. It works especially well at intersections and junctions. Both safety systems bring Volvo closer to its vision of nobody being seriously injured or killed in any of its vehicles by 2020.
The brand is so confident in its latest product it claims the new XC90 is not only one of the safest cars ever made but also the world’s first SUV built without compromise.
Order books for the new XC90 opened in December 2014 with the range starting at £45,550. R-Design cars start at £49,050 while top drawer Inscription starts at £49,950. The plug-in T8 Twin Engine versions cost around £14,000 more than the entry-level D5 models in each trim level.
In September, Volvo made 1,927 First Edition cars. Available worldwide and exclusively online, the cars had every option box ticked and sold out within 47 hours – 53 were snapped up by UK buyers.