After months of teasing, Volvo has finally detailed its new XC90, debuting with it a new hybrid engine, a new modular platform and a brand new styling direction for the brand. With so many firsts, the XC90 is a big car for Volvo – such a big car that Volvo President and CEO Håkan Samuelsson is calling its launch one of the most important days in the company’s history.
The heart of any new car is the engine, and Volvo has thrown a range of powerful yet efficient engines at the new XC90. There are five powertrain options, with two diesel and two petrol engines, as well as a "twin engine" hybrid to top the range.
For fans of diesel engines, the range starts with a turbocharged D4 making 190 hp (142 kW) and 400 Nm (295 lb.ft) of torque. Claimed fuel economy is 5 liters per 100 km (47 mpg). For those of you who want a bit more power from your diesel, the turbocharged D5 produces 225 hp (167 kW) and 470 Nm (347 lb.ft) with very little trade off in fuel economy – Volvo is claiming a "best in class" figure of 6 liters per 100 km (39 mpg).
The petrol engine lineup starts with the XC90 T5, with 254 hp (189 kW) of power and 320 Nm (239 lb.ft) of torque at the driver’s disposal. Not enough power? The other petrol option will be more to your liking, with the T6 using a supercharger and turbocharger for outputs of 320 hp (239 kW) and 400 Nm of torque.
Volvo has thrown everything it has into the range-topping, twin-engine T8 hybrid powertrain. The T8 is made up of a 2.0-liter, four cylinder Drive-E engine combined with an 80 hp (60 kW) electric motor that drives the rear wheels. The petrol engine drives the front wheels and is supercharged to provide plenty of low-down torque, while a turbocharger gives drivers some extra top-end shove.
Working in tandem, the T8 powertrain produces about 400 hp (298 kW) and a massive 640 Nm (472 lb.ft) of torque. Unlike in a LaFerrari (a market that Volvo is, strangely, yet to crack), the T8 hybrid system isn’t just there to provide extra power. After a full charge, the electric motor can take the XC90 25 miles (40 km) on pure electric power, a feature that will allow lots of city drivers to cruise around with zero tailpipe emissions.
For a car with such good outputs, the XC90 T8 returns impressive CO2 figures. On the New European Drive Cycle, the car emits just 60 g/km of CO2. By way of comparison, a Mini Cooper D emits 95 g/km.
As good as the XC90’s engine lineup may sound, styling often drives sales success, so Volvo is using its second-generation SUV to launch a new styling direction. The car has been given a distinctive face, with daytime running lights shaped like "Thor’s Hammer" granting a distinctive presence on the road. The XC90’s bigger hood and sharp, broad shoulders will also be carried across the rest of Volvo’s range.
On the inside, Volvo is claiming the XC90’s interior is its most luxurious cabin ever. The car’s Sensus touchscreen setup dominates the center console, and integrates HERE navigation and Ericsson-based cloud updates with Apple CarPlay, where drivers can control their phone and music through Apple’s familiar layout on the dashboard. Siri will also read your texts aloud, and acts as voice control for the phone and music elements of the system.
Audiophiles have been well looked after in the XC90’s new interior too, with an optional 19-speaker, 1,400-watt Bowers & Wilkins system that uses an air-ventilated subwoofer to provide powerful bass.
Being a Volvo, safety is of paramount concern in the XC90. The Swedish brand is debuting two world-first safety features in its new SUV, in line with its goal of having no-one killed or seriously injured in a Volvo by 2020.
The first feature will automatically brake if a driver pulls out of an intersection into the path of oncoming traffic. Volvo claims this is handy around town, where narrow streets and parked cars limit visibility, as well as when joining highways with fast-moving traffic.
The second new safety feature is run-off road protection. To keep you on the road, a lane-keeping aid will apply extra lock to the wheel if it detects the driver creeping out of their lane. Driver attentiveness is judged on a five-stage gauge, and if it drops too low the car will advise you to have a break. If this doesn't work and the car does leave the road, Volvo's Safe Positioning system primes the seat belts for impact, and works with impact-absorbing material between the seat frame and cushion to help prevent spinal injuries.
A full range of auto-braking systems are standard on the car regardless of trim level, so if a pedestrian, cyclist or fellow-motorist strays into your path, the car will hit the brakes at low speed.
On the subject of trim levels, Volvo is offering two for its new SUV. Cars fitted with the Urban Luxury package cars come with body-colored cladding, with stainless steel detailing and polished 21-inch wheels, whereas Rugged Luxury cars have black cladding and 22-inch wheels.
Volvo is looking for the second-gen XC90 to take the brand upmarket, and the car is packing the styling, safety, economy and power to take on the established luxury crowd. There is no word on pricing yet, but the car should go on sale in early 2015