The car that kicked the hornets nest
Regular Company Car readers will know from our reviews that there is not a safer car on the road than a Volvo. Indeed, Volvo’s recent mission statement was that it wanted to eliminate occupant death in all of it’s models by 2020, something that Saab also strove for back in the day. In the early Noughties, when my kids were under 5, my wife & I bought Saabs because they were safer than anything else out there apart from Volvos. Today, pretty much all new cars are incredibly good at protecting their occupants, but this second-generation XC90 is still at the forefront of passenger & pedestrian safety, although as a luxury SUV, you will have to fork out at least £45,750 to own one, which may seem steep & it is, until you start to compare it with it’s nearest competitors from Range Rover, BMW, Audi & Mercedes Benz.
The Mk1 XC90 lasted 12 years, which in this disposable age, is quite remarkable. The new XC90 debuts a whole new Volvo platform that will underpin the next generation of new Volvos, which are all to be powered by efficient four-cylinder-only petrol & diesel engines. The changes though, are not just under the bonnet because the interior of the XC90 is very much at the technical forefront of twenty-first century cars, showcasing as it does the best of Scandinavian design coupled with a clutter-free dashboard which is the highlight of the cars interior.
Volvo have kept things simple when it comes to choice, with just three specs; Momentum, R-Design & Inscription, the former D5 being my test car, logically a this will be the go-to choice for fleet customers. All models offer 4WD, seven seats, special energy-absorbent seats, Volvo’s City Safety auto-braking tech, Queue Assist & a self-parking system, so there’s no compromising on space or safety if you want one.
The previous XC90 could best be described as rugged. The new model however is much more subtle. With no sharp edges to speak of the front & rear are more rounded than many previous Volvos, giving it a far sleeker more aerodynamic look, which is much more in line with the competition. Volvo aficionados should not despair though, because the rear tail lights run from the top of the boot & down to the bumper & with Volvo’s branded kink halfway down, the XC90 is instantly recognisable as a Volvo in the dark.
The interior looks & feels expensive with brushed metal inserts, matching soft leather & a much-simplified layout. On trend, Volvo has completely decluttered the dashboard. The info-tainment & climate levels are controlled by a central touchscreen which has been designed to replicate the feel of an ipad & allows you to scroll between Media, SatNav, Telephone & car settings. Although the system is to the forefront of what people want in their cars, after all we spend an awful lot of time sitting in our cars nowadays, the touchscreen can be distracting for the driver & is best practiced on, before trying to decipher it whilst driving in traffic. It is actually quite simple to understand & to use but is packed with so many functions I wager that no-one has yet used them all.
Standard equipment across all models is comprehensive, with sat-nav, LED headlights, air-filtration, keyless entry, hands-free tailgate opening, a powered driver’s seat, auto-dimming mirrors and DAB radio. My entry-level Momentum D5 AWD also included cruise control, roof rails, Bluetooth, a 9” centre console touchscreen, three row seats with individually folding second row seats with fore/aft adjustment, Sensus Navigation, City Safety, which includes pedestrian & cyclist detection & front collision warning with full auto brake, 19′ alloys & a 10 speaker 330W audio system. My test car was also fitted with the Winter Pack with heads up display, heated front seats & heated washer nozzles which will set you back £1175 & a £1,500 Intellisafe Pro package that includes Queue Assist, a lane keeping aid, adaptive cruise control with distance alert, a blind spot info system with cross-traffic alert & rear collision mitigation
The D5 has a 222bhp twin-turbodiesel & this is more than powerful enough for most of us. My family & I drove 500 miles in the XC90 fully laden from the North West to Surrey & then back home again via Leeds, most of which was cruising on the motorway where the D5 performed really nicely. Around town & on smaller roads, there is some body roll but overall it handles much like a normal family car & not like a large SUV. On the motorway, if you need power on the move it’s there if you want it, which enables you to overtake with confidence. The D5 offers a top speed of 137 mph & a 0-62mph time of 7.8 seconds which illustrates this. How will your pocket fare then ? On official tests, the D5 offers the customer a combined return of 49.6mpg with C02 emissions of 149g/km. I did not drive the D5 carefully, nor alone with an empty full tank, rather the opposite & I averaged a shade under 36mpg, which seems respectable in the world of the urban tractor.
Customers who run a large SUV want to utilise the space that goes with it. The Volvo XC90 doesn’t disappoint. Measuring 4,950mm nose-to-tail it comfortably beats the 4,886mm BMW X5 falling just shy of the enormous behomoth the Audi Q7 which comes in at 5,052mm. In the cabin there’s a storage area in the centre console, plus a deep central cubby hole & a decent glovebox. Storage in the back row includes each seat getting a cup-holder. If you need to stretch out, there’s plenty of space in the luxurious front seats & in the second row too, as these seats move back & forward to increase or decrease the space as required. If you need seven seats then there’s more good news, because even the third row of seats are a good size, although headroom is limited to about 5ft 6” per person & you’ll need to be nimble to access them so more for the big kids than the grown-ups.,
If you want to utilise the boot with say a mountain bike or a flat-pack from IKEA, the XC90 offers 451 litres of boot space in seven-seat mode-quite respectable- & 1,102 litres with the third row of seats folded flat into the boot floor. Stow all five of the rear seats away & there’s 1,951 litres on offer. The boot also comes with a low loading lip, a shallow underfloor space & of course the powered tailgate as standard so all in all it’s a very useful size indeed.
As a family of four adults + medium sized dog, we really enjoyed the space & practicality that the XC90 offers. With it’s luxurious interior, up-to-date technology-the Wi-Fi failed us- & it’s tremendous safety features it really is a great car to be a passenger in, especially on a long journey.
In a sector dominated by badges, the XC90 stands out as the thinking-persons choice of large SUV & for me there really is no need to look further as a company car driver, than the entry level D5 Momentum , which ticks all the right boxes & gives just the right balance between performance & fuel economy. I miss it already.
A Millenium 4.5/5.