XC90’s designs on creating new era for Volvo

PUBLISHED: 17:59 10 June 2015

All-new XC90 heralds a new era of design, driveability and technology for Volvo yet remains true to the Swedish brand's heritage.

All-new XC90 heralds a new era of design, driveability and technology for Volvo yet remains true to the Swedish brand's heritage.


In 2002 Volvo launched its pioneering XC90, a seven-seat luxury sport utility vehicle, which revolutionised the sector and became a worldwide hit. And, 13 years later, the all-new model takes Volvo to a new level, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

Bold new look

The XC90 heralds Volvo’s new-generation design language with distinctive ‘Thor’s Hammer’ daytime running lights and a more assertive floating grille but cleverly incorporates Volvo styling cues – such as the rear shoulder line complete with traditional high-level lights. It’s clearly a Volvo XC90 but not as you know it.

Under the bonnet

Volvo XC90


Engine: 1,969cc, 225hp, four-cylinder, twin-turbo diesel

Performance: 0-62mph 7.8 seconds; top speed 137mph

MPG (19in wheels): Urban 45.6; extra urban 52.3; combined 49.6

CO2 emissions (19in wheels): 149g/km


Engine: 1,969cc, 320hp four-cylinder, turbo and supercharged petrol

Performance: 0-62mph 6.5 seconds; top speed 143mph

MPG (19in wheels): Urban 29.4; extra urban 42.8; combined 36.7

CO2 emissions (19in wheels): 179g/km

VOLVO XC90 T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid

Engine: 1,969cc, 320hp four-cylinder, turbo and supercharged petrol and rear-mounted 82hp electric motor

Performance: 0-62mph 5.6 seconds; top speed 140mph

MPG (19in wheels): Combined 134.5

CO2 emissions (19in wheels): 49g/km

Price: Momentum £45,750 to £59,995; R-Design from £49,285 to £62,855; Inscription £50,185 to £63,705

Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Will it fit in the garage? Length 4,950mm; width (including door mirrors) 2,140mm; height 1,776mm

There are three powertrains for the UK – now all lightweight, aluminium four-cylinder, 2.0-litre units for better economy and emissions – mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

The 225hp turbo diesel is expected to account for 75% of the increased 5,500 annual UK sales with the 320hp T6 petrol turbo combined with a supercharger taking 10%. The rest will be the 400hp T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid, coming later this year, with the T6 engine gaining an 82hp electric motor on the rear axle and a pure electric range of up to 25 miles and 49g/km.

The D5 gives strong, lusty performance and good refinement with the engine well muted unless being worked hard which, given the low-down pull, is not necessary. The only disappointment is that, while the test car engines at launch were still tight and new, most people were getting low to mid 30s to the gallon overall. That said, it’s better than the low 20s out of the T6 which makes two tonnes of SUV surprisingly sprightly.

How it drives

The XC90 uses the all-new scalable product architecture which will underpin all medium and large Volvos and it has transformed the way this big SUV drives – it’s so much more taut and responsive now that you could be excused for forgetting how big it is.

The standard coil springs make for a good compromise between ride and roadholding but electronic air suspension is a £2,150 option on all models in conjunction with drive mode settings and adjustable steering force – standard on R-Design but £395 on Momentum and Inscription.

Riding on air, the XC90 wafts along as if on the smoothest, newest section of road you’ll ever come across regardless of what is really going on beneath the wheels but can feel floaty over ‘rollercoaster’ roads at speed. By comparison, you get more feedback from the coil springs but not enough to mar ride comfort but I preferred the handling. Ultimately, it’s not as dynamic as the air suspension model with its selectable settings but I found it more engaging to drive.

Space and accommodation

UK models get a two-three-two seating set-up, and the middle and rear-most seat backs all fold flat individually and the middle ones are also reclinable – the downside of the middle row’s 40/20/40 split is that the centre seat is narrow and I’d have like more under-thigh support. The middle row seats all slide back and forth to free up legroom for those in the third row which are designed to accommodate people up to 170cm/5ft 7in tall, although you need to be supple to get in and out, or more load space in five-seat mode – but with vast legroom in the middle seats no one will miss a bit.

The D5 and T6 models have a 397-litre boot to the windowline at up to 775 litres with the rearmost seats folded flat. Dropping the seat backs to create a long flat load floor – albeit a high one – is a one-handed operation with a little practice and you’ve got 1,951 litres loaded to the roof.

At the wheel

Volvo’s new thinking when it comes to design is even more evident inside, again without losing the brand’s clean, Scandinavian styling cues. In fact, the XC90 is even cleaner with the fascia decluttered of small buttons, knobs and switches and instead functions are controlled via a tablet-style nine-inch swipe and touch centre console screen while thin-film transistor ‘virtual’ instruments and information display add to the hi-tech feel.

Large windows create a bright and airy cabin, particularly noticeable with light-coloured trim materials, and the cabin feels as classy as it looks with a clean, user-friendly design and ergonomics.

Equipment and safety

The XC90 is the safest car Volvo has ever built with a host of new and updated features, both standard and optional, some designed to prevent accidents happening and keep you safely on the road, others to protect you should the worst happen.

Momentum is forecast to account for half of all UK registrations and, despite being the entry model, comes with all the kit and creature comforts most drivers would want.

The XC90 also features some nice touches such as a little Swedish flag stitched on the side of the driver’s seat and seat belt buckles engraved with ‘Since 1959’ – the year Volvo invented the three-point safety belt.

Final say

The all-new XC90 has been a long time coming but, as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait. This car is going to mark a new era for Volvo and sets the scene for the new models that will follow.

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Andy Russell

Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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