Car Review: Volvo XC90 SE

Volvo’s new owners Zhejiang Geely recently announced the ‘All New’ XC90 scheduled for launch in 2014 will be the first vehicle to be designed under their guidance.

It will be interesting to see what they come up with, as despite first arriving at the Detroit Motor Show over ten years ago now, the Volvo XC90 is still an exceptionally good car.

Car Review: Volvo XC90 SE

Ok, so looks-wise it’s perhaps a little dated, while every manufacturer seems to have gone sleeker, slimmer and contour free, it still has those millennium bumps and lumps. A friend of mine remarked it looked like an Eastern European WW2 armoured vehicle.

Admittedly, the front might look a bit like an Angry Birds Piggy, but the long square shaped front bonnet is unmistakably classic Volvo. I really like it, just watch, in six months it’ll probably be de rigueur again. It’s also definitely easy to find in a car park, for a start it’s head and shoulders (physically) above most cars, it’s also the one sticking halfway out of the parking bay too.

Despite it’s rather large presence, once the car is moving forward it doesn’t feel ‘big’ on the road. The 2400cc five cylinder turbo diesel engine will take the car 127mph and is powered by a six speed Geartronic transmission that can be a tad hesitant in lower gears, but is generally very good.

The car will travel from 0-62mph in 10.3 seconds. If you happen to get stuck behind a tractor (a common occurrence around here) there is enough power in reserve to keep you moving. The suspension is smooth and the variable four wheel drive will mostly power the front wheels, but adjust itself automatically if extra traction should be needed.

The steering is slightly numb, but you can still place the car easily and confidently into corners, at slower speeds it’s also a bit heavy, while this is less noticeable once you are moving faster, I found reversing and parking slightly more labour intensive than some of the other big 4×4’s.

Fuel consumption is reasonable if not spectacular – 34mpg combined (25.7 urban and 41.5mpg extra urban), and CO2 emissions are 219 g/km.

The front dashboard is starting to look in need of make over, the rev counter and speedo are functional, but a teeny bit boring in comparison to some of the more hip cars around (including the new Volvo range). However, the SE version does have all the mod cons needed, together with a usb connection and an excellent Sat-Nav (voiced by what sounds like the Worlds Strictest fem-dom).

Car Review: Volvo XC90 SE

I really like the foot(hand)brake, it’s a throwback to the old days of motoring, and I only wish they had included a starting handle and big horn outside the drivers window to complete the set.

All Volvo’s are comfortable cars and the XC90 is no exception, the plush leather seats are like a baby bear’s bed (just right) and the seat warmers are perfect for an ironic British Summers day.

The reason you see the XC90 everywhere is because they’re solid and real work-horses. One of the cars great strengths is its flexibility, there is the option to completely flatten the rear 3rd row of seats to allow for a big storage area, or transform the car into a bona fide MPV. Even as a seven-seater there is still enough room to bring a wheelchair as luggage and tough enough to take a bash from the kids without looking like a Jackson Pollack painting.

Volvo’s dedication to safety is noticeable throughout the car, reminders for the side impact protection system are on the footplate as you open the rear door, and the car has the highest NCAP safety rating.

eight out of tenThey’ve recently signaled their intent to be a leading light in the luxury car market, and when the all new model arrives in 2014 we’ll be able to see how bright they shine. Until then the XC90 is still glowing along nicely.

Priced from £35,695 on the road.
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