By Patrick James on 2016-04-23 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Volvo XC90 T6
A HARMONIOUS design - pure, uncluttered luxury, with advanced safety and comfort for all seven passengers. That's the sales blurb from Volvo about the radically revamped and reshaped XC90.
It's hard to disagree - but don't forget Thor's hammer - another bit of clever marketing designed to make the car memorable.
It's memorable anyway, offering executive luxury, driving thrills, quality engines and a road presence that puts it there among the best of the large SUVs on the market.
Like many of its competitors it is well equipped, but just like those competitors you can spends thousands on add toys and goodies.
First of all, Thor's hammer. The XC90 has shaken things up with a bold new design architecture, including the hammer shaped LEDs within the front light clusters which look like, guess what? Thor's hammer.
The new exterior styling has a softer, more curvaceous look with, a reshaped bonnet and smart alloy wheels. There is a reconfigured Volvo badge, with a more prominent iron mark, which has the iconic arrow aligned with the diagonal slash across the grille.
There's plenty of other the mind-blowing stuff as well including on this top of the range model, a superb Bower and Wilkins 19-speaker sound system, heads up display, state of the art communication and class-leading safety equipment. Some standard kit and some optional extras.
A proper luxury motor with a proper luxury price. Starting at around £45,750, there are three trim levels, Momentum, R-Design and Inscription.
This range topper weighed in at a hefty £53,745 and add the aforementioned extras and it shoots up to £67,925. Quite a chunk on an already expensive vehicle.
The D5 diesel is expected to be the best seller, alongside the two-litre T6 petrol driven here and a 390bhp petrol/electric plug-in hybrid.
The diesel may make the most financial sense and offer decent performance, with good economy and lowish CO2 emissions, but the two litre petrol engine which is both turbo and supercharged is riotous fun to drive, with performance Porsches would have been happy with not so many years ago.
It can hit 60mph from a standing start in 6.1 seconds as it races through the slick-shifting eight speed automatic gearbox.
Be prepared to take the hit on fuel and road tax bills however as well as benefit in kind taxation, although the claimed 36.7mpg is pretty impressive.
All models are lavishly equipped, with Sensus navigation (including internet access, traffic information and free lifetime updates), LED Active bending headlights, Volvo On Call, ‘CleanZone' air quality, powered tailgate, keyless entry, powered driver's seat, auto dimming mirror and DAB radio.
A full seven-seater the interior is as good as it gets with Alcanta leather finish to all the seats, high-quality soft touch finish with Scandinavian and steel trim and neat little touches like the Swedish flag sewn into the upholstery.
The dash is dominated by a nine-inch TFT touchscreen which controls major functions like sat nav, infotainment, climate and phone connectivity as well as a number of apps and web browser capability. All the dials and controls are beautifully laid out.
Another nice touch is the starter button, which is twisted rather than pressed and a knurled silver knob which allows you to select the optional eco, dynamic, or off-road driving.
The seats, despite being thinner to give more space to the rearmost two passengers are comfortable and supportive.
The second bank of seats sits slightly higher than the front two, while the third row, is higher still, giving all occupants better forward vision.
With all seven seats utilised, boot space is limited, but all seats behind the front two fold flat to provide a huge cargo area, which can be accessed, when your hands are full, by kicking under the rear bumper, where a sensor triggers the powered tailgate.
The drive is superb. For a big seven-seater it handles beautifully, particularly with the optional air suspension. In dynamic mode, the car can be pushed hard into corners where it feels composed and stable, while the sharp steering responds instantly to slight corrections. Even at high speed, engine, wind and road noise is muted.
It is a real driver's car with bags of performance, the T6 turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine develops 320bhp and 0-60mph takes 6.1 seconds.
Volvo has always been at the forefront for safety and this car is no exception with its raft of technologies,
These include autonomous emergency braking, pedestrian and cyclist detection and front collision warning.
Volvo XC90 T6 Inscription
Mechanical: 320bhp, 1,969cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 143mph
0-62mph: 6.1 seconds
Combined MPG: 36.7
Insurance Group: 40
C02 emissions: 186g/km
Bik rating: 34%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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