Volvo XC90 D5

Inscription

Volvo XC90, grey, front, action
Volvo XC90, grey, front
Volvo XC90, grey, side
Volvo XC90, grey, rear
Volvo XC90, grey, interior
Volvo XC90, grey, headlamps
Volvo XC90, grey, instruments
Volvo XC90, grey, boot, seats upright
Volvo XC90, grey, boot, bag restraint

THERE'S a lot to be said for sticking with a design rather than chopping and changing as trends come and go.

That's providing, of course, the original template is good enough. Volvo found itself in this envious position more than a decade after introducing their first XC90 - a pathfinding luxury SUV before the niche was even fully recognised.

Such was its success that the model remained a top seller for an amazing 12 years, an almost unheard of duration, bearing in mind that car designs are usually replaced every five years.

The latest XC90, launched last year, has stepped up a gear to compete head-on with prestige models like Range Rover, BMW X5 and Audi Q7. But it is unmistakably an XC.

With its benign image, appealing road-friendly styling and vast array of safety features, the Volvo is well positioned to win orders from the obvious rivals which tend to fall into clearly defined camps of supporter.

The version I drove was the D5 Inscription, powered by a two litre, four cylinder diesel engine that packs a useful 225bhp, fast enough to make good progress or tow a caravan yet still capable of squeezing around 35 miles from each gallon of diesel. And with CO2 emissions of just 152g/km it's pretty tax friendly.

Immediately recognisable as a Volvo, and strikingly similar to the original article, it is however considerably larger and sleeker. Styling is handsome yet individual - a formula that means its looks are likely to stand the test of time.

With its bold radiator grille and ‘Thor Hammer' daytime running lights, it is unlikely to be confused with any other SUV.

The tall vertical tail light clusters have been carried on from the original model, despite the design having been copied by other makers.

Inside, the XC is a happy blend of the modern and classic luxury in a very Scandinavian fashion - plenty of natural wood, brushed metal inserts and stylish detailing.

The topline Inscription gets a huge 12.3 inch tablet-style screen through which you control many of the car's functions including sat-nav, climate control and audio system.

The touch screen takes a bit of getting used to but works efficiently...so long you keep a steady hand when operating it over bumpy roads.

Standard equipment across the range is generous with LED headlights, sat-nav, keyless entry, electric tailgate operation and power driver's seat all included.

The Inscription adds Nappa leather seating, the larger display screen and big 20-inch alloy wheels.

The XC strikes a reasonable balance between comfort and handling and remains quiet and refined. There's a fair bit of cornering roll if it's hurried through bends but adhesion is impressive.

On-demand four wheel drive works well in slippery conditions and there's sufficient ground clearance to negotiate rocky tracks or the occasional gymkhana field.

Size-wise, the Volvo fits between the X5 and Q7 and makes good use of its ample space. With five onboard, and the third row of seats folded, there's more than 1,000 litres of cargo room. Even with the final row of seats in position there's about 450 litres of space - similar to a the boot of a medium-sized saloon.

The final row of two seats at the rear is acceptable for a pair of full-sized adults, but access to them isn't particularly easy.

FAST FACTS

Volvo XC90 D5 Inscription

Price: £50,505

Mechanical: 225bhp, 1,998cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 137mph

0-62mph: 7.8 seconds

Combined MPG: 48.7

Insurance Group: 34

C02 emissions: 152g/km

Bik rating: 27%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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