Menacing and Macho

Forget what some say about reliable but dull Volvos – the XC90 has the X Factor

My first car was a Volvo 340; it wasn’t the most obvious choice for a young lad who had just passed his test. A few things stick in my mind about that car – it was built like a tank and the seats were very comfortable. Because it was as aerodynamic as a breeze block, I remember it being noisy at speed. The other thing that sticks in my mind is the fact that all Volvos and Saabs used to have daytime running lights. This is the norm now with all manufacturers giving cars quite funky LED lights.

When the Volvo XC90 was launched over 10 years ago it became a real sales success. It totally surpassed Volvo’s sales expectations and waiting lists quickly formed. Owners were able to buy the car and either sell it for a profit or keep it for a year and not lose a penny. This car just pressed all the right buttons for owners – it was nice enough to look at and it was very family-focused indeed. As this car is so well loved by current owners, this latest Volvo XC90 had a lot to live up to. Imagine the pressure the designers and engineers were under to get the new car right. Up until about six years ago, Volvo was owned by Ford. In their wisdom, they decided to sell off Land Rover, Jaguar and Volvo. A Chinese company called Geely bought Volvo, and after considerable investment they will soon see some rewards.

The new XC90 now looks very menacing from the front although the rear looks very similar to the current model. Step inside and it’s a different matter indeed. The interior just oozes quality; none of the car’s competitors can get anywhere close to it at all. The XC90 is the first car to use a new platform called SPAR (I believe there is no connection to the convenience stores!)

Volvo has fitted the car with new and much more efficient engines – a hybrid version is also available. This promises amazing economy but there is a £10,000 premium to pay, which may outweigh the potential savings to be made. The Diesel engines promise 50mpg plus economy and the hybrid promises over 112mpg.

All cars feature 4-wheel drive and they all have 8-speed gearboxes as standard. In the UK we get seven seats but in some markets the car is only available with five seats. The rear two seats are ideal for anyone under 5ft 8” – unlike most competitors who can only accommodate children. Just to prove how family friendly this car is, the second row seats can be supplied with a child seat. With the third row seats up there is still enough room for some bags or a buggy. With the seats folded this car has estate car rivalling space. There is also a handy divider that can be flipped up to stop smaller items from sliding around the boot. Being so family-friendly this car has loads of space for storage dotted around the cabin.

The car’s standard suspension is very good on our terrible roads. After driving a car with air suspension I would be tempted to opt for that as it makes the ride quality even better, especially when the largest alloys are fitted to the car. Anyone using the car off road can also increase its ride height by 40mm which may help if the car is struggling. Back to the car’s interior and the stunning use of leather and metal make this place a real joy to be. Driving for hours in this environment is just so relaxing and it just oozes class. The dashboard only has eight buttons and everything is controlled by what looks like a tablet. The home screen controls everything from the navigation to the excellent sound system. The XC90 is a big old beast and the driving position is excellent; you sit very high in the car and you have a commanding view of the road ahead.

Volvo is not famed for making sporty cars but in its R Design trim the car looks amazing. It is also available in Momentum, which gives the car leather upholstery, climate control, Bluetooth, Sat Nav, 10 speakers and an MP3 player. Inception, the other design, gives the car larger alloys, memory seats and plusher interior. The R Design adds a sportier look inside and out. Being a Volvo, the car’s trump card is safety – there are air bags all over, anti-whiplash headrests, lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring. Another of Volvo’s unique selling points has to be its city safe system. The system applies the brakes if it senses someone or something stepping out in front of you. According to the company, it’s the most safety-focused Volvo ever!

If you are looking for something other than an X5 or a Q7, this car really should be on your shopping list. From its macho new looks to its stunning interior, it has the X Factor in abundance.

Car supplied by Mill Volvo | volvocarsnewcastle.co.uk

Related Stories

  • From the track to the street

    The Japanese manufacturer first entered the world of motorsports in the 1960s with the SPL 210 Roadster before focussing its attention on the American domestic market with the Nissan...
  • Roaring Back Into The Lime Light

    When you mention the name Bentley, the first thing most people think of is the company’s illustrious racing history. The company’s founders W.O & H.M Bentley were keen racers...
  • Vroom To Improve

    Improving your car’s performance is no longer a question of oily mechanics going under the bonnet to tune the carburettor, distributor and points. In cars today, the Engine Control...
  • Going My Way?

    Anne Marie Bostyn had a dilemma five years ago when she was left a Fiat Doblo as an inheritance. She has to travel through the North East frequently, as...