By Otsile Kadiege*
The production of the first-ever Volvo SUV, named the XC90, began in August 2002. Fast forward to the year 2014 (a good 13 years’ wait), Volvo revealed the radical second generation XC90 that got the motoring world excited, and rivals shaking in their German boots.
Fast forward another 4 more years and I was lucky enough to get behind the wheel of the new XC90. As I walked towards the front-end of my crystal white pearl metallic body painted test car, I was captivated by the XC90’s adaptive LED ‘Thor’ headlights (that also double as turn signals) and the prominent traditional Volvo grill. Moving to the side, the excitement continued to increase with massive 21″ 5-V Spoke Matt Black Diamond cut wheels that are surrounded by almost rectangular wheel archers. Completing this is a chrome strip that is placed perfectly at the lower parts of the side profile. More chrome trimmings are found at the familiar rear-end, the most familiar part being the rear-lights which largely follow those that we saw on the first generation XC90.
D5 Inscription AWD lettering on the tailgate denotes that this is a diesel powered 2 litre in-line 4 cylinder engine powered car with 168 kW of power that is available at 4250 rpm and 470 Nm of torque that is available at 1750-2500 rpm. The 0–100 km/h sprint is achieved in 7.8 seconds. Volvo claims a fuel consumption of 5.7 l/100 km. More on that later. The Inscription package adds a bit more bling (chrome) to the exterior design.
After being amazed by the sheer size of the new XC90 and Volvo’s radical departure from creating boring pensioners’ vehicles, I walked towards the driver’s door in anticipation. After opening the door, I was greeted by the new digital instrument cluster and a 9” tablet-like infotainment screen running on a system called Sensus, which comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and is logically placed in the center. Moving my eyes and hands around the interior, I was highly impressed by the built quality and choice of materials used in the XC90. The perforated charcoal nappa leather sport seats, with ‘Inscription’ engraved on the head-rest were very comfortable and had a massage function which was great for my weekend journey to Mahikeng.
As I was setting my destination, the map couldn’t find most of the places in North West. Luckily, I knew how to get to Maftown, so I decided to ditch the map. Switching between menus and sub-menus on the infotainment screen was easy and the system didn’t show any lag. The infotainment’s display theme can be changed to glass minimalistic, performance and chrome rings, the former being the one I prefer.
After packing everything I needed for the weekend into the spacious boot (451l), I depressed the brake, turned the knob behind the gear lever to start, turned on the air conditioning via the 9” tablet-like screen and I was ready to leave Tshwane and was en-route to North West.
The XC90 has 3 driving modes, namely, Eco, Comfort, Dynamic and Individual. The D5 in Dynamic mode made the steering much stiffer and it felt surprisingly quick off the line. Eco mode made the car feel like a tortoise on the high-way, but because I was on a journey and not a marathon, I kept the SUV in comfort as that mode provided better ride quality and I averaged 8.8l/100KM. Note, this is a tad higher than the claimed 5.7 l/100 km but still tolerable taking to account the size and performance of the car.
As part of Volvo’s Vision 2020 goal, the XC90 has amazing safety features like pedestrian and cyclist detection, 360-degree camera, blind spot and cross-traffic alerts which activate when the SUV is in reverse, adaptive cruise control with Pilot Assist, and lane keep assist, just to name a few.
After safely arriving in the pothole riddled Mahikeng, I set the drive mode selector to off-road and the SUV’s optional air suspension was raised by 4 centimetres providing better ground clearance and moved at a snail’s pace with the bright white Thor headlights illuminating the path.
After spending the weekend with the second generation XC90, I found the Swedish SUV to be a great step-up from the 1st generation in terms of styling, performance and chief of them all the safety features. It’s unique and its sheer size makes it stand-out from the rest. The price for a D5 Inscription starts at R1,084,469. This might seem a bit high but the XC90 is not short on standard features and you will find this price comparatively speaking. If you’re in the market for a safe, spacious and good-looking family SUV then I recommend the Volvo XC90.
* Otsile Kadiege is the main motoring scribe at our sister publication, Cars in Pixels. You can also send us your own written or video review and we will gladly publish it. Your contribution will be subject to our editorial policy of course.
Leave a comment