By Khulekani Dumisa
The XC90 took forever to get a second generation model and fell behind the likes of Mercedes-Benz GLE and BMW X5. It would be an understatement to say the second generation clawed its way back into the game. The car, which ushered a new design language, almost single handedly turned around the fortunes of the brand. The looks are now shared with likes of XC60 and XC40 making the Volvo SUV line-up hard to ignore. The competition has not been asleep though and there is a new X5 and GLE in town. Has Volvo done enough with the updates to keep up with the German foes? Recently, we spent time with the refreshed XC90 to find out.
Exterior styling and interior
The refreshed Volvo XC90 gains new wheels, additional exterior colours and a slightly restyled grille. Inside, the car is also available for the first time with a new six-seat configuration, with a pair of middle-row seats instead of a three-seater bench. Our test car also had the new optional R-Design package which includes 20-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, black door mirrors and a gloss black mesh front grille. Leather/nubuck sports seats, black headlining, upgraded interior lighting and a perforated leather-trimmed steering wheel give the cabin a sportier vibe. The R-Design pack also adds a powered front passenger seat, and Drive Modes that allow drivers to adjust settings for the engine, transmission, steering and the optional air suspension.
The cabin remains classy with the tablet-like Sensus Connect infotainment system commanding all the attention when you look at the dashboard. The system serves as the command centre for nearly everything in the car, including car settings, entertainment and climate control. The whole set-up is starting to show its age when compared to competitors like the BMW X5 and the Mercedes-Benz. The latter two offer clearer and quicker systems, and their virtual, AI based assistants are superior. Take nothing away from the XC90 which overall exudes class, quality and elegance in layout and feel of the cabin.
This is unique in its segment. In the technological front, the XC90 adopts Volvo On Call as a standard feature. This is an app-based service that helps motorists communicate with their cars. They can lock or unlock the doors, check the fuel level, and cool or heat the car via their smartphone, smartwatch, tablet or desktop. The service is also accessed via button on the car ceiling above the rear view mirror. At the press of a button, you are connected to a call centre agent who can assist you with things like the best restaurants in town and send the destination to the car’s navigation system. The service is free for the first five years, after which it can be extended for a fee.
The XC90 D5 Geartronic AWD is powered by a 2-litre turbo diesel engine that delivers 173kW of power and 480Nm, and has a claimed fuel consumption of 5.7l/ 100km. We did nearly double that at 9,1l/100km in a combined cycle. Notably our test routes were mostly city driving. This is not too bad considering the size of the car. The D5 suffers a bit of lag and is slow delivering power at take-off and when overtaking. This means you have to work a little harder to get power out of it and that affects fuel consumption. The engine is fairly quiet though and the ride is comfortable. In fact ride quality can best be described as plush thanks to the air-suspension. The latter system also comes in handy when off-loading items out of the car as the vehicle can be lowered at a touch of a button.
The refreshed Volvo XC90 range is priced from R1,023,000. All Volvos standard with a 5 year / 100,000km Warranty and Maintenance Plan (Volvo Plan), and 5 year / unlimited mileage Roadside Assistance.
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