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“At last, a car maker that’s not obsessed with beating BMW”

After driving the new XC90, Steve Fowler thinks Volvo has come of age with a clear direction for the future

Opinion Volvo

I’ve lost count of the number of car launches I’ve been on where BMW is used as a standard by which every premium car should be judged. It’s at that point that my eyes roll yet again – as they do when there’s mention of testing a car at the Nürburgring race circuit. Yawn. 

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Yes, BMW makes brilliant cars. Lots of them. But not everybody wants a BMW. Not everybody wants a car that can lap the Nürburgring in under eight minutes. And not everyone wants a car where handling is such a priority that a bone-shaking ride can be forgiven.

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So what a delight it was to be with Volvo people who’ve got over their previous obsession with BMW (yes, I remember the Volvo S60 launch – not even close!). There’s so much to like about the new XC90 that it’s difficult to know what I like most. But perhaps it’s Volvo’s approach to the car – a very singular, Scandinavian way of thinking that’s to hell with what other people think, the only one who matters is the customer.

Volvo XC90 2015 - rear static

The XC90 is no BMW X5, and all the better for it. If you want a fine handling SUV that’ll make you feel like a hero driver, buy the X5 – it’s great. But if you want a comfortable, refined, safe and spacious family-friendly SUV, go for the Volvo. I loved it.

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Under its current ownership and leadership team, Volvo seems to have come of age. It’s a company that’s comfortable in its own skin with a clear direction for the future.

Meanwhile, BMW knows exactly what it should be doing – exactly what its customers have always loved. But much as I like the 2 Series Gran Tourer, is a seven-seat BMW that does 0-62mph in around 11 seconds really the ultimate driving machine? Time for a marketing rethink, perhaps.

Do you think Volvo's got it right with the new XC90? Let us know in the comments below...

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Editor-in-chief

Steve Fowler has been editor-in-chief of Auto Express since 2011 and is responsible for all editorial content across the website and magazine. He has previously edited What Car?, Autocar and What Hi-Fi? and has been writing about cars for the best part of 30 years. 

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