Safety first Volvo

shows its racy side

Volvo XC90, front action
Volvo XC90, side action
Volvo XC90, rear action
Volvo XC90, dashboard
Volvo XC90, boot
Volvo XC90, grey, camera display

PRECONCEPTIONS of what a driver is, based on the car being driven are part of the human condition.

Not long ago it was assumed that a BMW driver was either living in an alternative overtaking universe or very keen on making special love to your rear bumper.

Today that stereotype has been transferred to the Audi owner andthe dark BM zipping into range is considered most likely a plain cop car.

Drive a fully blown Range Rover in town these days and you will be accused of badger gassing and presumed to be on your way for a new set of tweedy clown pants.

Enter the Volvo XC90. Seven seats, upholstery to die for and that nice Dr Warmhands has one. A car for the chattering classes.

Bring out the boxes and let's get them ticked; desirability, plenty of room for the ballet run, safe and a statement of conspicuous consumption. Break out the Boden fashion items.

Now you can even have itas a hybrid. Vegans will be throwing themselves at your bodywork but it won't matter because the latest XC90 is as protective of humans as it is of polar bears.

However this is not quite the whole story. Just like yummy mummy doing wifely duty before legging it into the arms of her mixed doubles coach, Volvo has and always has had, a racier side.

An impressive two-litre turbocharged petrol engine takes this massive 4x4 T6 to 62mph in 6.5 seconds via the automatic DSG gearbox. In Inscription trim it will cost you a golf club-impressing £54,000 with standard fittings but almost £69,000 with desirable options like Intellisafe Pro which brings with it blind spot assistance and rear collision mitigation.

Safety is paramount. Taking the fabric of the vehicle first and at the price you would, there are surround cameras to aid parking and so many proximity warning horns that a meander down a narrow lane sounds like the landing scene in Close Encounters.

Then there are the considerations for wandering minstrels and other pedestrians. It is probably less difficult to hit a rat with a balloon in the dark than crash. And if you do injuries are likely to be confined to sever tickling. This has been called the safest car in the world and it is quite a trick to do that without also making it the most boring.

Right climb aboard, it is a bit of a climb the XC90 is not pretending it has real off-road ability, and take in the superior taste in interior furnishings. No matter how swift the T6 is on its 21-inch alloys the main reason for Inscription spec is luxury and equipment.

The joy of Volvo design is its sheer logical nature. The latest XC90s get a touch screen display which may be susceptible to grubby paw marks but is easy to use and view.

This is just a great place to be, long distances are a pleasure enjoying the quality leather finish, including the dash and real wood inserts.

One complaint, however. Those big wheels add to the road noise in an intrusive manner.

With the extra seats down I cannot believe that anyone could muster enough luggage short of leaving the country in a referendum inspired panic. If you fill this going on holiday I suggest a more decisive choice of wardrobe.

This is not a car for the faint hearted at the pumps. A week's average turned out to be 27mpg which is much closer to the suggested 35mpg than expected. Don't look for cheap tax, there isn't any. £270 a year for your sins.

The XC90 is a statement piece. The T6 adds attitude and performance. Compelling reasons why you may be in the market, along with the 40 per cent saving against a Range Rover. The trouble is I am a bitmore silly tweed pants than metropolitanist.

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