Swede dreams are made of Volvo's new XC90

The Volvo XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid
The Volvo XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid

Volvo XC90 D5 and XC90 T8 Hybrid

Move over BMW, Mercedes and Audi, there is a new premium SUV in town, and they don’t get much Swede-r than Volvo’s new XC90.

We had heard all the reports, and looked on in amazement as the second-generation Volvo XC90 practically wiped the board clean with all the accolades it has earned around the world.

We remember being in Geneva when the XC90 was unveiled – we couldn’t for the life of us understand what all the fuss was about.

But we discovered why the Swedes are still doing cartwheels in every department when we got behind the wheel of two models.

On the outside, Volvo has done an amazing job on this second-generation model, replacing the Tonka-Truck look with a much sexier Kim Kardashian-like body.

The American-style monster truck look is there and, with its new signature headlights and standard 19-inch rims (with 22-inch option) you can see what market the Swedes want to corner.

With BMW falling behind with its slightly dated centre consoles, Audi has lead the way in recent years with slick interiors.

Volvo’s take on a modern interior is to bring in a big tablet-style infotainment system.

The finish is clean throughout but having this touch-screen system that operates all the functions gives the big 4x4 SUV a modern feel.

It takes a little while to get used to, but after a week it was a joy to use.

The one thing we would say is that driving at higher speeds, you have to keep taking you eye off the road to play with the system, which can be dangerous.

We’d recommended getting used to the controls on the steering to change anything while you’re driving. 

All XC90 variants come with seven seats, automatic gearbox and AWD and there are three specs – Momentum, sporty R-Design and range-topping Inscription.

The options list is plenty and you can even add heated and ventilated seats trimmed in Nappa leather. 

The Bowers and Wilkins stereo fitted to the T8 has a 1,400 watt amplifier and 19 speakers. The air suspension comes in five modes. 

XC90 safety gear includes a run off-road protection package which tightens seatbelts and activates energy-absorbing technology. It has auto-braking which cuts in if a driver pulls out in front of oncoming traffic.

T8 Twin Engine Plug-in Hybrid

The XC90 range-topping T8 model comes with a 60kW, 80bhp electric engines matted to a 2.0-litre petrol-powered engine that produces 320bhp.

For someone like me, who has a 32km round-trip daily commute to the city centre each day, the claimed 40km range from the electric engine should be perfect.

In fact, a full tank of fuel should last me the year, unless I was going down the country.

However, after an eight-hour charge and a full 40km on my range on day one, I drove 16km in rush-hour traffic and was left with 15km to get me home.

And that’s with no heating or wipers on.

On the way home, I found that I was 7km short of my 32km journey when the electric battery ran out – which means a full charge only gave me 25km.

I got similar results on day two, and I wasn’t pushing the pedal to the metal, and even drove in B- not D-mode which is supposed to regenerate battery power.

Overall, I found the hybrid mode a bit gimmicky and you would be better off sticking to the diesel – which Paul will take you through – in this amazing XC90.

D5 AWD 2.0 R-Design

The bread and butter of a 4x4 SUV is a big diesel engine.

Volvo has downsized in this department with a frugal 2.0 diesel unit with either 190 or 225bhp.

My D5 model was the higher-powered version and I think it needs it.

This is a big 4x4 and you don’t want it to feel sluggish.

There’s plenty of torque, with 470Nm to get you moving through the gears and there wasn’t a time where I felt more power was needed.

My partner-in-crime raved about his big T8, but his little daily commute suits a petrol motor, my commute varies, with journeys between 80-150kms becoming a regular occurrence.

This means diesel is the only man for me and this new engine from Volvo is very good.

It also helped that my XC90 was dressed to impress with the R-Design model being the spec of choice for me.

With Polestar-inspired design the XC90 really stands out in this spec.

I’d go as far to say it’s the best-looking SUV on sale right now.

I enjoyed driving it, with a high driving position and commanding presence on the road.

It handles quite well with body roll only evident when pushed hard in the corner. I wasn’t that tempted to take it off-road, as I didn’t want to spoil the good looks, but I’m sure

Volvo hasn't made the new XC90 just to look good – it’ll take you to places many cars can’t.

Volvo’s XC90 is bigger and bolder than before but the new diesel unit was surprisingly good on the economy front.

The claimed figure of 5.8l/100kms is a little off, I only managed sevens during my week, which in reality isn’t bad for a big 4x4 seven-seat SUV.

We both raved about the new XC90 and it has moved to the top of the class. T

he longevity of the first gen model shows people loved them. We can’t wait for our next experience in one. Until then,

Swede dreams are made of these.

Robbie Farrell and Paul Keown

Tech Spec:

Model: Volvo XC90 D5 R-Design
Price: From €63,450 (test car €83,227)
Road tax: Band C €390
0-100kph: 7.8s
Max speed: 220kph
Fuel economy: 5.8l/100km (claimed)
Luggage space: 310-1,899 litres

Tech Spec:

Model: Volvo XC90 twin engine Inscription
Price: From €63,450 (test car €90,662 including
SEAI grant and VRT relief)
Road tax: Band A1 €170
0-100kph: 6.4s
Max speed: 230kph
Fuel economy: 2.7l/100km
Luggage space: 310-1,899 litres