2016 Volvo XC90 video review

The new family SUV standard-bearer that comes with its own spiders!

By Shahzad Sheikh

2015 Volvo XC90

Meet the all-new second generation Volvo XC90. This is a full-sized SUV, and at about 5m long and 2m wide, it’s longer, wider and lower than the previous car. Inside there are three rows of seating in a 2+3+2 configuration. Volvo recommends passengers up to 170cm tall for the last row, invariably it’ll be used by kids, and what they’ll find in the back are their own cup-holders and cubby boxes.

2015 Volvo XC90

Inside those they’ll find a spider web and smiley spider embossed on the lids, and they will positive yelp with delight, just as the child in me did when I first discovered them by chance.

See my comprehensive video review of the new XC90 by clicking below.

The arachnographics are not just a beautifully clever touch, they are also indicative of the time, thought and attention-to-detail that’s gone into the making of this car during its three-year gestation, now built on a new scalable architecture that will underpin more future Volvos.

2015 Volvo XC90

It’s all part of an $11bn revitalisation programme initiated to relaunch the brand after it was bought by Chinese company Geely in 2009 – after which, I have to confess, even I had pretty much dismissed this once fabled marque (I can’t help but think of MG, you see).

But it seems I was utterly wrong to do so, at least in this case. It appears the Chinese handed over a ton of investment to the Swedish car maker and told it – ‘do what you do, just do it even better’.

2015 Volvo XC90

Exterior styling

Some people have compared the looks to Audi, and I can see what they mean, but only as far as the clean, crisp and well-defined lines go. But that grille and Volvo logo, now bigger and bolder than ever, shorn of the need to sit on a protruding bumper, are unmistakable.

A really neat Scandinavian touch is the Hammer of the Norse god Thor incorporated into the headlights – this car should be driven by Chris Hemsworth in The Avengers (oh, except that he can fly everywhere).

The strong-shouldered side profile may be a little anonymous, but the rear with its tall kinked-back taillights is a familiar XC90 trait.

2015 Volvo XC90

Interior

Open the tailgate and there’s a cavernous cargo space with lots of little nooks and hooks to help store things and hang stuff, not to mention the split folding second and third rows, as well as the buttons on the side which will actually drop the car down on its suspension to make loading a little easier.

In the second row the middle chair can be converted to booster seat for children, and there are touch controls for the rear A/C as well as a three-pin power supply. It’s spacious and comfy and very well thought-out.

2015 Volvo XC90

Jump in the front and you are not only greeted by the comfort you’d expect from a Volvo (moving on from just being the first company to provide whiplash protection, these new seats are specifically designed to prevent spinal cord injuries in a crash). You’re also welcomed by a spartan and IKEA-clean interior, clutter free and simplistic on first acquaintance.

Fire it up and the full-digital instrument panel comes to life with a 9-inch tablet in the centre console running something called a Sensus system and serving up a veritable sweep of menus and touch-things to tune and operate in the car. Everything from the car’s varied settings to the entertainment/Bluetooth, climate control, navigation and safety systems can be accessed from here. It’s a page straight out of the Tesla school of ergonomics.

2015 Volvo XC90

Admittedly it takes a while to get used to and familiarise yourself with all the hidden menus, plus it gets smudged-up terribly (so keep a microfiber cloth in any one of the multiple storage spaces including a cool-glovebox), but it’s like learning your iPad, once you got it, it’ll be second nature. No haptic feel though, unlike Cadillac’s system.

2015 Volvo XC90

Driving

Now when you started it up, if you were expecting a growl of a V8 or a smooth thrum of a V6 or even a straight Five, you would have been disappointed. All those have been done away with by Volvo for its big family SUV, instead it gets a 2.0-litre four-cylinder.

Oi! Oi! Stop, don’t click off the page. I know exactly how you feel, I was the same when I heard that that would be the motor. But bear with me, because it’s about to get very interesting!

2015 Volvo XC90

The motor in this car is a called a Twin-Charge engine and features both a Turbo and Supercharger! This sees it put out an astonishing 320bhp and 295lb ft of torque from just 2200rpm, which is good enough to propel this relatively lightweight 2004kg 4×4 from rest to 100kph in a hot-hatch rivalling 6.5seconds, and onto 230kph, whilst only consuming 8L/100km!

And that was the real shock for me when I picked it up. I was expecting slightly wheezy and pedestrian move off in this big thing when I first squeezed the throttle pedal, instead I was chucked back into my seat and, whilst fully maintaining its calm composure, the XC90 lunged forward with far greater vehemence than you would have imagined.

2015 Volvo XC90

It’s unrelenting too. The wave of momentum continues up through the eight ratios of the transmission. Then comes the next surprise: it’s also an agile and eager mover. It’s like a big guy impressing you with his hip-hop moves.

The steering is pleasingly faithful, the braking is reassuring (crucial on a large car) and the grip is encouraging, not least because understeer is kept well in check and only appears to be there as a safety margin. This is almost verging on a sporty SUV.

There is a compromise though, and that’s a somewhat more brittle and thuddy ride than would have been equated with a big plush family mover. But it’s not deal-breaker.

2015 Volvo XC90

Loaded up with kit

Nor will the long list of kit deter you: adaptive cruise control, four-zone climate, powered everything, cooled and heated seats, full panoramic sunroof, Nappa ventilated leather upholstery, sun curtains, navigation, wi-fi, driver alert and driver’s aids, ISOFix child seat anchors, parking sensors, rear camera, 20-inch alloys, air suspension and smart key.

Most of which is also available on the ‘regular’ Momentum trim as well as this range-topping ‘ Inscription model – apart from the ventilated leather and the wheels are 19-inch (which actually might improve the ride perhaps). The options fitted to our test car were the magnificent 19-speaker Bowers and Wilkins 1400W sound system and the Grafisk full-colour heads-up display.

2015 Volvo XC90

Verdict

The prices, however, might give you pause for thought (AED269,900 for Momentum and AED299,900 for Inscription) especially with that nagging doubt about the four-cylinder lump in the front.

Frankly speaking though, if you’re looking for the newest, smartest, most thoughtful and sensible SUV, not to mention ‘the world’s safest SUV’ as claimed by Volvo (which is hoping to achieve zero fatalities in new Volvos by 2020), then you definitely need to get down to your Volvo dealer and take this for a run.

Just one lap around the block with your family aboard might well convince you – as it has me, by Odin – that Volvo is definitely back in the game, and China’s been good to this big Swede.

2016 Volvo XC90 – The Specs

Price:
Momentum trim: AED269,900 ($74k)
Inscription trim: AED299,900 ($82)
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo & supercharged, 320bhp @ 5700rpm, 295lb ft @ 2200rpm
Performance: 0-100kph 6.5secs, 230kph, 8.0L/100km
Transmission: 8-speed auto, four-wheel drive
Weight:  2004kg

Let us know what you think of the new 2016 Volvo XC90 in the Comments below

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