Update: Our spy photographers have snapped the new Volvo XC90 testing, ahead of its release date in 2015.
The pictures show an early prototype with XC70 bodywork, but with a stretched wheelbase, raised ride height and a taller body, there's no denying its true identity.
Bookmark this page as we will be updating this story with the latest news and rumours on the new Volvo XC90.
Volvo has already confirmed that its all-new XC90 seven-seat SUV - a rival for the likes of the Audi Q7 and Land Rover Discovery - could be revealed in concept form late in 2014 and will debut an innovative new technology for all its diesel engines.
Called ‘i-ART’ this system replaces the fuel pressure sensor in the common rail with a small computer fitted to each cylinder which controls fuel injection and monitors exactly how much is needed for each combustion cycle.
The extra precision this offers means this new range of four-cylinder engines will be much more efficient than before but the technology also boosts power as well and the new Volvo XC90 will also use an eight-speed auto for the first time.
Derek Crabb, Vice President of Powertrain engineering at Volvo was reported as saying that this “was the second step in the diesel revolution” and it would also make the current range of six and eight-cylinder diesels “look like dinosaurs”.
The new car marks a landmark in Volvo’s development under Chinese owners Geely, and is the first model that is built on the company’s Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA). This modular platform will underpin all future large Volvos including the new S60 and V60 models, as well as replacements for the current V70 and S80.
That’s not the only first, though. The XC90 will also debut Volvo Engine Architecture – a new range of four-cylinder, turbocharged petrol and diesel engines designed to fit into one engine installation, whatever the model.
Hybrids and plug-in hybrids will be part of the new four-cylinder Volvo Engine architecture programme, with the plug-ins reserved for bigger models. A plug-in hybrid version of the XC90 is planned with bosses saying it could produce around 400bhp and 670Nm of torque – similar outputs to a V8. Petrol engines will produce from 140 to 280bhp, with diesels producing 120 to 230bhp.
Auto Express caught a glimpse of the new seven-seater at an event at Volvo’s Gothenberg HQ. The front was dominated by an oversized, upright Volvo grille and large ‘iron mark’ badge - similar to the one shown in this design sketch released in 2011 - while from the side, it was more reminiscent of the Audi Q7 and Volkswagen Touareg in size.
Volvo’s Senior Vice President of Research and Development, Peter Mertens, told Auto Express, “The new car will be only slightly bigger on the outside, but with more space inside. The look will be a development of the latest Volvo designs, but won’t draw too much from the Concept You car [shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011].”
Mertens also confirmed that the XC90 will shed around 150kg compared to the previous model, with savings made from the use of four-cylinder engines and the new Scalable Platform Architecture. There will be no V6 or V8 models offered.
SPA uses lightweight high strength materials such as boron steel – a material pioneered by Volvo. The platform can be stretched length-ways or width-ways, meaning long wheelbase cars will be easier to engineer, although it’s unlikely we’ll see a stretched XC90.
The XC90 will also feature the very latest safety technology including the pedestrian airbag from the V40, plus city safety braking, which will automatically stop the car from speeds up to 31mph and can also include pedestrian detection.
Active high beam headlights will also be fitted, detecting oncoming cars or vehicles ahead and deaden an area of light so as not to blind drivers, while keeping the main beam on.
Volvo’s Sensus Connected Touch infotainment system will also be available on the XC90. This Android-based system uses apps like Spotify music streaming and TuneIn internet radio, as well as full web browsing, Google maps navigation, weather information and mirroring functions from an Android or Windows smartphone – although not Apple’s iOS phones as yet. Sensus Connected Touch also allows the downloading of approved apps through Volvo’s Asteroid marketplace.
The new XC90 could debut in concept form at next year but expect to see the production version at the Detroit Motor show in 2015, just as its predecessor did in 2002. However, we wouldn’t expect UK sales to begin until the spring that year, with prices starting well above today’s model, closing in on about £40,000.