You only get once in a lifetime opportunity to do this, to be one of the first to talk about a long-awaited automobile and I have been given this opportunity. It’s luck – being at the right place at the right time with the right people. And to respect their trust I decided not to be a CNN journalist, posting everything about everything. Nor an Autoblog.nl idiot who doesn’t understand English and who has no sense whatsoever. Volvo said the release time for the new XC90 was set at midnight of 27th August, 2014 Gothenburg’s time. That’s the rules and I follow them. However, unlike the others who just drank hot tea without having a sip and seeing that it’s hot, I have got the info about what is IN the Volvo, not just how it looks like. Luxury SUVs are not just bought for the looks. It’s about the content. So I win here.
Anyway, now the wait is over! Here it is in all it’s glory.
The design is just like it is for the “Cross Country Concept”. Fresh, interesting, but not too flashy. Classic Volvo. The first thing you notice are definitely those lights. That allows the XC90 to have its big presence not only during the day (where the old model already had it), but also during the night. People within Volvo have already dubbed it “Thor’s Hammer”. Unlike many other car makers Volvo have created a unique style of those lights. They look cool.
This Volvo with its new platform also marks the ending if the painful Ford era, when all valuable dollars Volvo earned got ripped out of their hands by Ford’s greedy bureaucrats to be injected in their small, poor quality, sometimes pointless cars (like European Ford Fusion, the flawed Ford GT (ask Jeremy Clarkson)) and engineering costs, which came from putting Volvo and Jaguar on Ford’s ageing platforms (worst of them being Jaguar X-type on Ford Mondeo platform). The interior became as interesting as George Bush’s bathroom and the quality problems appeared. Mercifully, with these past new models (XC60, V40 and all current face lifted Volvos) and the XC90 it seems like Ford days will be finally over. Not just because there is real wood interior trim, but because you can feel special again in a Volvo.
Volvo have already been known to have great sound systems, and XC90 is no exception. There are no specific details on the sound system yet, but I know it is engineered in collaboration with Bowers & Wilkins (who already put some incredible sound systems into Jaguars and Maseratis) and there will be an option in the system to chose a “Gothenburg Concert Hall” surround setting. I assisted in translating the new Volvo infotainment system and there was such option. It also included a small description of the Concert Hall. So Swedish.
Another cool feature of the interior is the gear selector. I believe this kind of a selector is for the hybrid version. It will have a T8 engine, with a 2.0 litre Dive-E engine making 316 horsepower and driving the front wheels while the back wheels will be powered by an electric motor, making 80 horsepower. Total output – 395 horsepower and 473 lb-ft (641 nn) of torque. Punchy. Especially when you know that the most powerful engine option on the old model was a 4.4 litre V8 with 315 horsepower. Besides, the electric motor will give the car the extra umpf it longed for in the previous generation.
It will be way more fuel-efficient too. First if all, you will have a choice to drive it in full-electric mode if you wish. I bet more than enough to take you to the office and home (most of journeys will be this way, I think). Volvo are targeting a fuel economy of 2.0 l/100 km (140 UK mpg, 120 US mpg). Incredible for a seven-seater SUV. So if you live in Central London, you can pass by those Greenpeace lunatics in their tents and wave at them as you pass by. And they will wave you back in jealousy, thinking “I wish I got a job and earned myself enough money to afford this.”
Speaking of city driving, the new XC90 will have a safety system that I really am looking forward to. Not just because it will make my life easier, but because it will save some cars from being stupidly, yet unintentionally damaged by blondes. It is a 360° parking sensor system. BRILLIANT IDEA! Especially when parking in narrow spaces. Thank you, Volvo. Along with that there’s the marvellous “city safety system” (that slams on the brakes if someone jumps in your way. Now, it has it in the back and it works in corners as well, getting the car closer to making it impossible to crash as possible) and an ingenious “Queue assist”. Basically it not only detects how far is the car ahead of you and accelerates and brakes when the front car does so, but it also can see the lines, so you can engage it, take your hands of the wheel and the car just follows the traffic in front of you. It not only can make your journey more enjoyable, but also it can save you some cash on fuel. There’s no such thing as too much economy.
Volvo is also the first car to use Apple’s Car Play. You may have heard that some journalists have said that it will not be safe, remember that these guys 1980s said “seat belts cannot be forced upon people because people are living in a democratic society and they have a free choice to chose wether or not they can wear it; no government will tell them what to do”. You have to try the system first and only then you can judge it.
Then there are such small, detailed touches like “SINCE 1959” written on seat belts, to remind that they introduced the first three-point seat belt in 1959.
There’s one thing I am not sure about – the instrument cluster. Volvo already have a great digital display in their current models (see my “I AM ROLLING” article) but this one somehow is a bit less exciting. I don’t know yet if there will be different modes for the display (e.g. in sport node it would glow red and have a large tachometer in the centre like in current cars). Maybe in reality it looks better. We have to wait and see.
But until it goes on sale here in Europe in February, this is as close as we can get to it. Mortals will be able to see it up close on Paris auto show in October. For the wizards, tests and final adjustments are still continuing. A great beginning. A great timing too – the BMW X5 came out last year, the Q7 us still in the works and won’t come out until next year at least (and I believe it’s gonna be same old same old) and the ageing 1st gen XC90 was in the game just a bit too long and for years everyone’s been asking “when’s the new one gonna come out? Where is it?”. Now it’s here and, as I write it at 2pm GMT+2 on the 26th August (11 hours before the car is unveiled), I hope it’s gonna stir up the car world once again just like it’s dad did in 2002.