2016 Volvo XC90 Road Test Review

volvo xc90 India Review-53 (volvo XC90 plug in hybrid local assembly)

Volvo is known worldwide as an automobile brand for pioneering safety standards and set the benchmark in it. Along its history, many breakthrough safety inventions have come off Sweden such as the laminated glass and safety cage in the ‘40s, first-ever three point seat belt in the ‘50s, rear facing child seat in the ‘60s, side impact protection system and roll over protection in the ‘90s, blind spot information, personal car communicator, collision warning brake support, city traffic alert and pedestrian airbag in the ‘00s.

These are just a few innovations Volvo had introduced as the list goes on and on prompting the company’s reliability and solid build quality. The largest foreign acquisition by a Chinese automaker was penned in 2010 when Zhejiang Geely Holding Group bought Volvo from Ford for a whopping $1.8 billion. With Ford enduring losses in 2008, the Swedish brand changed to the hands of Geely and a new era had begun. Credits where it’s due as the Chinese firm kept Volvo’s brand identity unshaken and worked to its strengths and reinforce its reputation in the luxury segment against the German trio globally.

Volvo Xc90 India Review-55Through the last six years, Geely put money where mouth is and upped the brand image of Volvo with plethora of investments worldwide for producing new products. One of the significant of them is the second-generation XC90 flagship luxury SUV which received the 1st ever GaadiWaadi Luxury SUV of the Year Award.

After long years of wait, Volvo India Private Ltd. launched the model last May in two variants. We got our hands on the top-of-the-range Inscription Luxury version with a brand new design language and features to approve of what it feels like:

Volvo XC90 Price in India

Variants Price (Ex-showroom, Delhi)
D5 Momentum Rs 70.97 lakh
D5 Inscription Rs 80.24 lakh

Exterior & Dimension:

Volvo Xc90 India ReviewThe latest design language for the Volvo XC90 is derived from the Coupe Concept and it has Scandinavian style written all over it with no overdone elements. It is a plain design but has every element to make the luxury SUV a standout in the crowd with a phenomenal road presence. Unlike its main rivals the Audi Q7 and Mercedes-Benz GL Class, the XC90 is less intimidating but never devours in value.

The subtle front-end comprises of the large prominent headlamps with ‘Thor’ inspired eye-catching LED daytime running lights and huge vertically-slated chrome surrounded satin silver grille sheltering the Volvo badge with traditional diagonal slash. The façade is complemented by the long and sculpted bonnet that elevates the overall appeal.

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The Inscription range-topper we drove also was adorned with a set of 20-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels. The seamless rear fascia is unmistakably Volvo as it reminisces of the original XC90 with L-shaped 3D adaptive lighting LED tail lamps. The side profile has alluringly straighter character lines while the roof is slightly inclined when it meets the tip of the roof-mounted rear spoiler.

Volvo Xc90 India Review-4The window lines, again resembles the original XC90, and lower side strips have been given silver treatment as well and the wing mirrors are shaped to channel air flow to the rear. The air intake areas of the oval-shaped grille will be opened at cruising speeds or when engine needs cooling, to improve fuel economy while the silver under-plate houses the exhaust pair and is shaped for efficient aerodynamic underbody flow.

Volvo Xc90 India Review-6The flagship SUV stands at 4,950 mm long, 2,008 mm wide (widest among its competition), 1,776 mm tall and has a wheelbase of 2,984 mm. With a kerb weight just over 2,000 kilos, the XC90 offers a ground clearance of 238 mm with 530-litre bootspace and the fuel tank gets brimmed at 71 litres. Dimension-wise, the XC90 is sort of in the middle in every proportion compared to rivals despite being the widest within its segment.

Interior & Features:

Volvo has the knack of producing some of the finest interiors around and the XC90 SUV’s is no bluffing either. The Swedes have eliminated visually every button on the centre console and opted to go with a tablet-like touchscreen system with easy user interface. It’s a big step forwards compared to other the ones found in the XC60.

volvo xc90 India Review-18The interior is well thought and is available in black, beige and blonde shades. The dashboard is adorned with non-veneered wood with diamond knurled finish for the metal knob and the driving mode scroll wheel. Volvo has put loads of attention in minor details that reaped them with an intelligent cabin ambience and let alone the sumptuous materials and their quality with leather and wood touches.

volvo xc90 India Review-17Volvo Sensus is the new in-car OS that helps occupants maneuver through the nine-inch touchscreen display. It allows you to control every aspect of the car like driving modes, Air Conditioning, seat adjustments, assistance systems, navigation, media and so on while the touch sensitivity of the screen is superlative. However, the operations will take some time to get accustomed to. The centre console has customizable theme and a fully digital instrument cluster.

The large mid-mounted nine-inch screen is as fantastic as an iPad as you can scroll and flip through pages with pinch function for maps. In case of wet scenarios, Volvo thoughtfully also provides an additional waterproof key. The most awesome feature is the 19-speaker 1400watt Bowers and Wilkins sound system, one of the best we have ever come across with.

Volvo Xc90 India Review-27The multifunction three-spoke steering wheel is easy to use with mounted controls and placed just in front of a 12.3-inch instrument screen. The wider seven-seater gets independent storage provisions that are put into good effect and HVAC vent with four-zone automatic climate control spreading cool air instantly.

volvo xc90 India Review-11The gear-lever knob is made from crystal glass and other much-needed features are heads-up display, ventilated front seats, Intelligent Driver information system, automatic height adjusted front seat belts, driver’s seat adjust with memory function, keyless entry and the roomy cabin is ensured by the panoramic sunroof.

With it being a Volvo, the whole host of safety features will include active seven airbags standard on both variants and additionally passive safety systems like boron steel structure officially making the XC90 “the safest car in the world”.

Engines and Performance:

Volvo Xc90 India Review-36The Volvo XC90 has been made available with one engine and one transmission option for India. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder twin-turbocharged DOHC diesel motor is a highly attractive thing for the Delhi and NCR customers as can’t be restricted under the diesel ban and in the future when the ban gets spread out like in Kerala, the XC90 will be a luring prospect for the luxury customers.

Volvo Xc90 India Review-104The four-valve inline D5 diesel engine is good enough of to generate a maximum power output of 225 bhp at 4,250 rpm and 470 Nm of peak torque delivered at 1,750 rpm. Power is transferred to all the wheels via an eight-speed Aisin automatic transmission with conventional manual shifting. Both the Momentum and Inscription variants have been ARAI-certified to return class-leading fuel efficiency of 17.2 km per litre.

Volvo Xc90 India Review-86The Volvo XC90 is claimed to accelerate from 0-100 kmph in 7.8 seconds and flaunts a top speed of 230 kmph as good as any of its rivals. After spending hours behind the wheel, we certainly would not doubt those claims. Volvos are never all about the performance but the XC90 doesn’t fade away in that aspect.

Volvo Xc90 India Review-62The engine is peppy and will surprise you with its linear power delivery and of course smoothness. Despite being the smallest-displacing engine in its class, you will be entertained when the right foot is put down hard. The responsive engine is not as spine-tingling as its rivals such as the Audi Q7, Mercedes GL-Class and the BMW X5 but it does send your senses in awe and lets you have fun with it.

Ride and Dynamics:

While the original XC90 utility vehicle was built on P2 platform, the Gothenburg-based automaker decided to redesign the chassis and use a different architecture called SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) which underpins current generation Volvos. We must say, it’s nothing short of taking you by storm!

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The five-door utility vehicle has new double wishbone suspension and coil springs with hydraulic shock absorbers at front. At the rear, integral axle with lightweight transverse composite leaf spring with hydraulic shock absorbers and stabilizer bar are present. Both worn in tandem to provide superior comfort and excellent ride while the brakes are predictable and offer enough stopping power.

volvo xc90 India Review-20XC90 has the air suspension as a standard fitment across both grades and it offers four modes namely eco, comfort, off-road and performance. There’s noticeable amount of difference in ride when you activate each of those modes. For the performance oriented drivers, the relevant mode will stiffens things up to make the SUV more drive focused while the occupants who want to relax can opt for the comfort mode.

In case of rugged and adventurous terrain, the off-road setting, which works below 30 kmph and raising ground clearance by 30 mm, will be of immense help and the economical coasting can be aided by the eco mode. It feels a bit uncomfortable on broken rough roads and the rear tends to buffet when bolted with 20-inch wheels despite absorbing even huge pot holes with ease in performance mode surprisingly.

Volvo Xc90 India Review-51The overall ride quality is extremely impressive and considering the fact that most of the XC90’s buyers like to chauffeured around, it’s indeed a pleasing prospect. Put the pedal to the metal, the body roll is well controlled by the electronic system and the grip offered by the fatter 275 tyre section is obvious with predictable inputs from the light electric-powered steering wheel.

The Volvo XC90 luxury is very easy to turn in tight spaces and the braking felt adequate enough but the pedal feel could have been improved. The airy cabin has large windows with good visibility. The carefully sculpted seats contours will make sure of comfortable feel even after hours of long drive.

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The front seats do get heating and ventilated cooling option and the rear seats are comfortable as well offering great support but the middle row is very small. The third row entry and leg room there aren’t that good though despite having a very spacious front portion for driver and the co-passenger.

The middle seat on the second row can be used as a child seat too with an upward folding squab. When both the middle and third row are folded, you could get access to over 1,000 litres of trunk space.

2016 Volvo XC90 Road Test Review Verdict:

volvo xc90 India Review-44The Volvo XC90 luxury SUV is now being sold at a starting price of Rs. 70.97 lakh for the Momentum Luxury variant and it goes all the way up to Rs. 80.24 lakh for the range-topping Inscription Luxury model (both prices, ex-showroom Delhi). Astonishingly, more than 90 per cent of the customers prefer to go with the Inscription top-grade- underlining the packed features the luxury SUV offers.

A few niggles we came across in the XC90 are small middle row seats, congested entry into the third row and the restrained leg room there. But the Scandinavian design language featuring only what are necessary and the excellent interior elements will make the XC90 an apparent head-turner.

volvo xc90 India Review-47The XC90 does not have the outright performance as its main competitors Audi Q7, BMW X5, Land Rover Discovery Sport and the Mercedes GL-Class. It’s being brought into the country as CBU imports and the impressive comfort, convenience and safety features offered make the XC90 unique in its class. Despite the CBU route, it comes with a competitive price range and can be said as the best overall luxury package for the affluent Indian buyer with practicality and induced ingeniousness.

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