Driven: The 2020 Volvo XC 90 D5
Volvo has updated their flagship SUV, the second-generation Volvo XC90, which first launched in 2015 and provided the Swedish car maker with the direction of their latest design language. The facelift introduces new interior features, a new seating configuration and a refreshed R-Design model. “The overall impression, both exterior and interior, has a strong connection to the key elements of the Swedish lifestyle: the generous space, the celebration of light and the focus on well-being,” says Greg Maruszewski, Managing Director of Volvo Car South Africa.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The facelift XC90 stays true to this expression by leaving its interior largely untouched from the 2015 model. The tablet-based infotainment touchscreen still dominates the dashboard, acting as a gateway to various settings, apps and features while eliminating a significant number of buttons that are synonymous to infotainment areas. The lack of buttons may strike fear into the hearts of practical people and the technologically impaired, but all it takes is a bit of familiarity with the system to understand what it’s all about. I didn’t know what I was doing with the tablet on the first day, but after playing around with it I formed an understanding of it. I was just a bit embarrassed to have only discovered the volume knob on my third day with the XC 90… The interior also features premium materials and surfaces such as soft touch leather, fine wood as well as meticulous hand-crafted details, such as the optional crystal glass gear knob and the diamond cut volume control and start button, which really became some of my favourite bits of the interior. They felt extra-premium and unique.
The new Volvo XC90 is available to seat 7 occupants, but the facelift now introduces a new 6-seater configuration, bringing the luggage capacity up to 1856-litres. In either configuration, occupants can experience the new Bowers and Wilkins sound system, boasting a 1476W amplifier powering 19 speakers and a subwoofer that uses the entire volume of the cabin to produce bass. Having experienced the likes of Bose, Harman Kardon and even Burmeister, I can safely say that the Bowers and Wilkins set-up in the XC 90 is right up there with the best in the world, not only because of the tone, but also because of the different sound modes that are available. You can choose to modify the sound to replicate attending a concert at the Gothenburg Hall, or you can finely adjust the level and intensity of the surround sound to make it like your favourite artist is in the car with you.
The Volvo XC90 of 2015 already included an array of safety and driving technology, but the facelift 2020 model takes it a step ahead. The 2020 XC90 comes with an arsenal of safety features including Adaptive Cruise Control, Distance Alert, Lane Keeping Aid, Run-Off Road Mitigation/Protection, Driver Alert Control, Road Sign Information, Electronic Stability Control and many other safety features. Two of the features that I always test are the Adaptive Cruise Control and the Lane Keeping Aid. When used together, they turn the Volvo XC 90 into a semi-autonomous vehicle that does a lot of the driving for you. This is ideal for when you want to relax, or are stuck in tedious traffic. Just switch them on, turn on your favourite music and enjoy a massage from the heated seats.
The Volvo XC90 will be available in several different configurations of the 4-cylinder, 2.0-litre engine, all fitted to an 8-speed automatic transmission. The XC90 D5 is powered by a turbocharged diesel engine producing 173kW of power and 480Nm of torque, with a combined fuel consumption of 5.7-litres/100km. The power delivery feels smooth and clean, especially in Comfort mode, but don’t expect Dynamic mode to blow you away. The XC 90 is a luxury SUV, and while I usually prefer cars that have some pedigree of high-performance, I could easily overlook it in the case of the XC 90. In fact, during the week that I had it, I only tested Dynamic mode once. It was Comfort mode all the way from there. I also played around with Efficiency mode, but for some reason I couldn’t manage to bring the consumption lower than 9.0-litres/100km, which is a respectable figure for a vehicle of this size but a bit misleading from the claimed figure of 5.7-litres/100km.
Maruszewski says that there is already considerable customer interest in the new model. “The XC90 has already won over 120 awards globally, including the 2016 SA Car of the Year. In its latest incarnation, it’s most definitely the finest SUV that Volvo has ever created. You get the generous interior space and flexible capability combined with the agility and handling of a much smaller and lower car. The adrenaline rush that is key to true driving pleasure is delivered by powertrains that offer an unrivalled combination of power and clean operation. And since the XC90 carries the Volvo badge, world-class safety is standard. It’s an unbeatable combination,” he concludes, and I couldn’t have summed it up any better.
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