Volvo’s diesel-powered XC90 feels stronger and edgier than its petrol-driven T6 sibling.
VOLVO’S latest XC90 is proof that the Swedish carmaker has moved itself upmarket. The seven-seater sports utility vehicle is not only larger and more spacious than its predecessor, it is also be tter equipped and more luxurious. However, given that this car is nearly 5m long and weighs a hefty 2.1 tonnes, I was sceptical as to whether the turbo 2-litre in the T6 variant would prove adequate. But with 320bhp and 400Nm on tap, said engine surprised me by moving this hulking SUV at a decent pace.
Vehicles this huge, however, perform better when they are powered by a diesel motor, such as the one in the XC90 D5. The D5’s 2-litre turbo-diesel unit might only pack 225bhp, but it’s the substantial 470Nm produced at 1750pm that really counts. The turbo petrol 2-litre in the XC90 T6, on the other hand, churns out its 400Nm at 2200rpm. The D5’s greater low-end torque is what makes it feel more eff ortless and driveable than the T6. Keener drivers will enjoy putting their foot down and waiting for the turbo to kick in, for the resulting surge makes you feel as if this SUV is being carried on the crest of a wave.
Keep your foot on the accelerator and this vehicle will hit 100km/h in 7.8 seconds. That’s pretty respectable, considering how much Swedish sheet metal has to be pulled along. Handling-wise, both the D5 and T6 variants feel the same – there’s lean around corners, but grip provided by the all-wheel-drive system lets you push harder than expected. Behind the wheel, the automobile feels even readier to take on whatever you throw at it. On expressways, the meaty midrange makes overtaking a breeze.
At city speeds, this ginormous SUV can surprise other drivers with its ability to plug holes in traffi c – a manoeuvre you’d only expect to see from motorists driving nimbler compact hatchbacks. The D5 isn’t just adept at plugging gaps, it’s also good for parting traffi c. With its monolithic front end, intimidating size and hammershaped daytime running lights, this Volvo helps dissuade rude motorists from changing lanes without indicating first. The roar of the diesel powerplant probably has something to do with this, too.
The cockpit is more elegant than before, and the seats are still as awesome as ever.
To be fair, very little of the diesel clatter reaches the well-insulated cabin. Even with the hi-fi switched off, you’ll barely hear the engine running. However, if you were to stand beside the automobile with your eyes closed, it sounds like a taxi idling. The less-than-desirable soundtrack, however, is a minor issue within the larger picture. The XC90 D5 might be a Scandinavian “bruiser”, but it also has a heart for the environment. Volvo claims it can manage a combined economy figure of 17.2km per litre, or 4.7km further per litre of fuel compared to the XC90 T6