Written by: Don Cheng
Photography by: Don Cheng
Whenever I see a Volvo XC90 on the road, I always make an effort to try and guess its model year. What actually happens is that I take a stab at a random year in the first decade and a half of the 21st century knowing that I will technically be correct anyway. The truth is, the XC90 has undergone few changes since its inception, umm, 12 years ago. Yes, all the way back in 2002 when Avril Lavigne was still cool and No Doubt was still active, Volvo introduced the world to their first luxury SUV.
But time marched on and the XC90 remained relatively forgotten in the Volvo lineup and as with all things automotive, it grew long in the tooth and desperately needed a makeover. In fact, few things were more overdue than the Volvo XC90 refresh - the Leafs taking home a Stanley Cup was one of them.
Alas, after a 12 year hiatus, Volvo has finally done the job; and what a mighty fine job they’ve done. The all-new Volvo XC90 is built on Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), a modular product strategy akin to Volkswagen Audi Group's MQB platform. Volvo’s SPA goes beyond the platform upon which the cars are built and continues into both powertrain and electrical systems. What this offers consumers is a product line that can easily be adapted to the newest technology. Whether that means a stiffer chassis, a more powerful engine or new gizmos in the cabin, it is all available for Volvo to change with relative ease to meet the demands of the market. So in theory, consumers won’t have to wait another 12 years to see a refreshed XC90, which is good because we really like what we see after our week spent with our XC90 test vehicle.
Let’s talk design for a moment here, Volvo has really stepped up their design language from the late 80’s where their cars looked like a hodgepodge of IKEA boxes on wheels. They’ve since introduced a sleeker design language a la V60 and S60. Yet, somehow there was always an element of intermediacy behind the design, like a stepping-stone to a final destination that was almost within reach.
Following that analogy then, when you see the new XC90 you know the design team at Volvo has finally arrived. The Swedes have done something very special with this car, it oozes class and sophistication yet has an ambience of simplicity and balance to it. The attention to detail in this car is absolutely exquisite. I love their delicate allusions to its Scandinavian roots, like Easter eggs to really make you appreciate what the company has done. Take for example the LED Daytime Running Lights (DRLs). Its hammer-like shape is a subtle nod to Norse mythology’s Thor, the hammer wielding God of Thunder – or Chris Hemsworth if that’s your kind of thing.
The rest of the front fascia certainly looks the business too. The front grille has been reshaped and is now one piece instead of the awkward kid-with-braces look of the old one. Smack dab in the middle of the grille is Volvo’s redesigned signature, the Iron Mark logo. Coupled with the front jewel headlights, the new face of the XC90 features just enough chrome bits to exhibit a look that’s both sporty and elegant.
Donning an Onyx Black Metallic ($800) tux, the XC90 blends in easily with the Range Rover and Escalade crowd found outside the Shangri-La, or – dare I say it – the Ritz-Carlton. Meanwhile out back, the Volvo has retained the D pillar mounted brake lights found in the previous XC90. This time however, it’s significantly svelter: the rear tailgate is now one sleek piece but I wish Volvo had kept the split folding tailgate design.
The XC90 is big and is in fact larger in every dimension than its predecessor. However, thanks to a bevy of built in cameras and sensors it doesn’t feel so. It’s tall ride height is vastly mitigated thanks to the clever 4-corner air suspension – a $2,200 option – that will drop the ride height when you park it allowing for easier re-entry.
Inside, the larger dimensions of the car have paid dividends, as the third row seating is now fairly roomy and usable. The entire cabin is presented in a very simple and modern theme, another hark back to the car’s Scandinavian roots, or perhaps the design team was out of ideas and decided to give IKEA a call. It’s a stark change but a very welcome one. Featuring swathes of wood inlays, supple blond Nappa leather, and Volvo’s famous body hugging sports seats, the cabin of the XC90 is wonderfully executed and incredibly comfortable.
A simple twist of the chamfered diamond-cut engine start/stop dial and you’re greeted by the warm glow of the massive 12.3-inch tablet-like screen mounted in the middle of the dash. Everyone who sat in this car had commented that it looked like a giant iPad in the middle of the dash. It awfully reminds us of one - it even has a home button! The concept however, is actually quite ingenious. Instead of a multitude of hard buttons littered on the dashboard to control everything from the heated seats to the air conditioning, all you need to do is flick the touchscreen and you’re there.
The Volvo’s vast selection of safety features like the blind spot monitoring systems, adaptive cruise control, and lane keeping aid all can be turned off with the tap of the screen, and do you want to know the best part? All of the buttons are clearly labelled so you know exactly what you’re turning off and not have to decipher some strange acronym like “BSMS”. The home button brings you to the main screen which is divided into four sections. The top “tab” is navigation, next is your media selection, followed by Bluetooth connected phones, and the last one is your last used application.
Keeping with the premise of the SPA namesake, Volvo offers two engine choices for the XC90: a 320hp T6 Drive-E and the 400hp PHEV T8 (which adds a 65KW electric motor mounted on the rear axle). Both are 2.0-litre 4-cylinder motors that feature both turbocharging and supercharging technology mated to an 8-speed Geartronic automatic gearbox. The tiny little engines help keep emissions down as well as keep the fuel economy in check. Our particular XC90 came equipped with the T6 drivetrain and while the car does feature a dial for selectable drive modes (including a dynamic one for more spirited driving) don’t let it fool you. This car is best suited to be driven in eco mode or comfort mode.
The T6 2.0-liter is a smooth engine and is exceptionally quiet. The gearbox is great with almost imperceptible upshifts and downshifts and the air-suspension does a splendid job soaking up the big bumps. An X5 M or Range Rover Sport this Volvo is not, so leave that dial in comfort, crank up the volume on the phenomenal 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins stereo and cruise through traffic with your favorite tunes.
At a fully loaded price of $79,500, this Volvo actually offers quite a lot of car for the money: stunning looks, a luxurious interior, and the peace of mind knowing that your car has been engineered with more safety in mind than Bubble Boy’s Bubble. I’d like to think of the outgoing XC90 as analogous to a nanny: she’s always there for you, and will always do what you need to help you raise your kids. When the going gets tough, she isn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty. The new XC90 does much the same, continuing that lineage of pragmatic sensibility that made the original such a best seller. This time though, she does it all in a bespoke tuxedo and with the finesse and panache of a French Butler. Volvo’s fashionably late entrance to the luxury SUV market comes with a bang, and while the Swedes might not know the German language, their cars certainly do.
型号 Model: 2016 Volvo XC90 T6 Inscription
顏色 Paint Type: Onyx Black Metallic ($800)
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $66,800
試車售價 Price as Tested: $79,500
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,984
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,950 / 2,140 / 1,775
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,993
引擎 Engine: 2.0 Litre, In-line 4-Cylinder Supercharged and Turbocharged
最大馬力 Horsepower: 320 hp @ 5,700 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 295 lb-ft @ 2,200 - 5,400 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: Double Wishbone Suspension, Coil Springs, Hydraulic Shock Absorbers, Stabilizer Bar. Optional Air Suspension
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Integral Axle with Transverse Composite Leaf Spring, Hydraulic Shock Absorbers, Stabilizer Bar. Optional Air Suspension
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined)- L/100 km: 11.5 / 9.5 / 10.6
輪胎尺碼 Tires: 275/40R21