Fleet News

Volvo XC90

Volvo

Review

WHAT a fantastic position to be in – Volvo claims it disappointed buyers of the old XC90 by not making it expensive enough, so the Swedish firm’s riposte is a new V8-powered luxury SUV which costs £54,000.

This makes the XC90 V8 Executive the most expensive Volvo ever and positions it above even the top-of-the-range BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz M-class models.

It also pitches the XC90 into competition with the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport – both products owned by Ford, also the parent company of Volvo.

The original XC90, launched four years ago, has been a huge success for Volvo and now there’s a slightly revised version with a very minor facelift and some technical revisions.

Volvo UK product manager Dean Shaw said: ‘The original XC90 attracted a new kind of customer to the brand. Instead of looking for the best value, our new clients took the attitude that money didn’t matter and wanted their cars to boast every conceivable gadget.

‘They seemed disappointed at our initial response, which was to bring out an options list that took the price up to £40,000 and we were staggered when they showed a lot more enthusiasm for the Executive version we introduced at £45,000.

‘But now we’ve really got to grips with the situation and driven into the heart of BMW territory.’

Shaw added: ‘The point is that this car has driven us upmarket in a dramatic fashion in the last few years. People seem more than happy to spend heavily on a vehicle that comes with absolutely everything. They want the best –it’s an attitude that has required us to develop a new mindset.’

Shaw expects the V8 version to account for 10% of the 6,000 sales Volvo is planning in the UK next year. The 2.4-litre D5 turbodiesel version will remain the majority seller, accounting for 85% of volume.

The 4.4-litre V8 sits at the top of a revised XC90 range alongside another new petrol engine – a 3.2-litre straight-six. The V8 is produced jointly with Yamaha in Japan and Volvo’s latest 3.2-litre straight-six is built at the Ford plant at Bridgend in Wales and seems also likely to be used by Jaguar and Land Rover.

One of the most compact V8s in the industry, it features a 60-degree angle and a novel, offset cylinder arrangement, has ancillaries fitted directly on to the engine and mounts its starter motor above the transmission housing so that it slots into the transverse mounting layout that provides the car with its spacious cabin and seven-seat capability.

In 2007 model year form, the XC90 features exterior cosmetic changes which include revised body-coloured bumpers, a new front grille and rear skid plate, body-coloured side rubbing strips and wheel arches and new rear light assemblies.

It comes in four trim levels and the base S version gets an uprated stereo system, better quality upholstery, a load cover and leather gear knob. The SE gains leather seats with electric driver’s adjustment, 18-inch alloy wheels, wood or aluminium trim and an integrated CD autochanger.

The new SE Lux level adds brushed aluminium roof rails, soft leather upholstery, heated electric front seats, bi-xenon headlights, electric folding door mirrors with ground lights, wood trim, water repellent door mirror glass and luxury floor mats.

In Executive trim, the car stands on 19-inch alloys and has an extended front skid plate in silver, a new satellite navigation system, rear seat headphone sockets and a premium audio system with 12 speakers and surround sound, and matt chrome door mirrors.

Behind the wheel

IT looks chic, is more comfortable and is decidedly posher, but the most outstanding features of the new XC90 are under the bonnet.

In either straight-six or V8 form the latest Volvo petrol engines tick all the boxes for output and refinement. More than anything else, these units illustrate Volvo’s ambitions for a bigger share of the top-end SUV market.

Taking over from the 2.5T and the T6, the 3.2-litre six bristles with technology aimed at producing a crisp response with maximum efficiency. It needs to be worked hard to get such a heavy car smartly away from rest, but at high speed with the rev counter at 2,500rpm in sixth, the engine is impressively subdued.

Stepping on the accelerator in the V8 produces an electrifying result as it streaks away from standstill with all the urgency of a sports car. However, the price to be paid is in fuel economy, which is where the smooth D5 turbodiesel comes in. It’s nowhere near as quick off the line, but in the mid-range its ample torque means swift progress is assured.

Sweden’s high-grade roads flattered all versions over extensive test routes, but the composure of the V8 through twisty sections taken at speed bears testament to high-grade engineering.

Verdict

SO much was right about the XC90 that only minor tweaks have been needed to allow the car to again do battle with its German rivals. In V8 form in particular, Volvo produces a top-drawer SUV, although the D5 turbodiesel makes more financial sense.

Model: D5 3.2 V8
Max power (bhp/rpm): 180/4,000 234/6,200 310/5,850
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 295/2,000 236/3,200 324/3,900
Max speed (mph): 121 130 130
0-62mph (secs): 10.3 8.9 6.9
Fuel consumption (mpg): 34.0 23.9 20.9
CO2 emissions (g/km): 219 281 322
On sale: Now (3.2 in September)
Prices (OTR): £32,820–£53,965

  • To view images click on next page.

  • CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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