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Before I continue, there is that little issue of building something up in your head and then getting let down when you actually experience it in reality. I was afraid that this might happen with the Volvo. What if it didn’t look good up close? What if it felt cheap? What if it was really horrible to drive? What if it was heavy on fuel? Well, it was time to find out if any of those “what-ifs” were true.
Regarding the looks, my fears were put at ease very quickly. The XC90 is one good-looking SUV. It’s big, yet it features many rounded edges in its design. It also features clean and fuss-free styling lines, which give it a muscular yet sedate look. My favourite view for the XC90 has to be the front quarter view, with those big 21-ínch rims turned away from me. The grille not only looks good it also gives us an idea of what to expect on Volvo products in the future. The grille also features the iconic arrow, which has been elegantly aligned with the diagonal slash across the grille. Together with the T-shaped DRL lights (which are said to resemble Thor's Hammer), the LED headlights and the chrome accents, the car looks amazing. Unfortunately, due to its tuxedo-like looks and low profile tyres, I wouldn’t be so happy to take it off-road.
As for feeling cheap, well you can forget that! Step inside the Volvo XC90 and you’re greeted by a clean, well designed, driver-focused interior. In fact, this interior is really one of the nicest I’ve been in. There are so little buttons and they are so meticulously made. For instance, the Stop/Start button is a crystal-like switch that you turn. The same goes for the Drive Select button; it looks like a piece of jewellery, which you rotate with your finger. I could select between Dynamic, Efficiency, Comfort and Off-Road. As for the volume button, that too is a neatly designed dial.
The reason why there are so few buttons in the car is because everything is controlled via an iPad-type touch screen, which is imbedded into the centre of the dashboard. The operating system, known as Sensusis is much like that of a Tablet and thus, quite easy to use. You swipe left or right to access specific menus. You can also drag your finger from the top of the screen down to access a drop-down menu. There’s one button which takes you back to the home screen. Even the car’s climate control functions are operated via the screen. As for the instrument cluster, it’s all digital and once you have the navigation activated, the map will appear right in front of you.
The Volvo feels extremely premium inside; all the switchgear has a nice touch and the materials used are of high quality. Space inside is ample and the cabin was made airy, thanks to a panoramic roof. Sure, I would have liked rear side window blinds for extra privacy, but that’s just me wanting to be a celebrity.
My fears about the drive quality were also put to ease. The Volvo returned a great driving experience taking into account the massive rims and low profile tyres. On the road the four-cylinder twin turbo-charged 2.0-litre diesel engine makes fine use of its 165kW and 470Nm. The car also makes use of a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox, which distributes power to all four wheels. As for the fuel consumption, I averaged around 7.6 litres/100km over my test week and I managed a total distance of 680km on one tank.
The Volvo XC90’s driving experience can be described as effortless, thanks to a number of class- leading safety technologies like Lane Keep Assist and Active Cruise Control with Distance Assist as well as Blind Spot Assist. The Volvo also has Park Distance Control as well as a reversing camera. All these systems have far reaching benefits for safety and convenience.
So was the Volvo XC90 all that I thought it would be? Yes, it was. It is a stunning looking SUV; it has an elegant yet modern interior and it returns a refined driving experience. Sure, it’s not perfect but what is? The diesel motor does sound a bit agricultural and the Stop/Start function kills the engine far too quickly at traffic lights - sometimes before I had even come to a complete stop. The other issue with the car is the price… it’s not cheap - at all. I was driving around in the amply kitted Inscription model, which is priced at R893 900. That said though, you do get a lot of exclusivity when buying this vehicle.
So would I choose the Volvo XC90 over its German rivals? Well a week ago I would have said yes. Unfortunately I have since driven the all-new Audi Q7. More of that soon…
Image Source: NetCarshow