Tech tour de force

from Volvo

Volvo XC90, front static
Volvo XC90, front action
Volvo XC90, side action
Volvo XC90, rear action
Volvo XC90, rear static
Volvo XC90, dashboard
Volvo XC90 D5 Power Pulse, front, static
Volvo XC90 D5 Power Pulse, rear, action

MANY years ago, I worked in lovely Cornwall for five years and really enjoyed living down there.

While researching an article on police fast response teams, I learned a very good lesson from a patrolman from Bodmin, who said we should all drive with headlights on in narrow lanes during the day.

The headlights are at the front corners of the car he said, and so they are the first thing other drivers see as you come around a corner.

Because you have your headlights on, they usually brake harder and more quickly too, thus perhaps avoiding an accident. Makes sense doesn't it.

This tip has since saved my bacon on many occasions in narrow lanes and it is well worth using.

Of course, most of today's cars have bright day running lights at the front, and it is something Volvo has been doing for years.

Nevertheless, I still put the headlights on when I was driving along some narrow roads in the Swedish car maker's excellent XC90.

I was driving the T6 petrol version, but because the diesel and hybrid variants are so good, I can imagine it will probably only sell in small numbers.

That said, 315bhp from a twin turbo 2.0-litre engine means it's not lacking in performance. 60 miles an hour comes up in just 6.3 seconds from standstill and in gear acceleration is excellent.

The engine is not particularly tuneful, but then, it's so quiet as to be almost inaudible most of the time.

Drive is to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, which is just about perfect in ‘Normal' mode. It also has ‘Eco', ‘Dynamic' and ‘Personal' settings.

I cannot imagine most owners bothering with them even though ‘Dynamic' improves the gearbox and engine response, sharpens the steering and firms up the dampers, and can be useful when pressing on.

The ride is absolutely sumptuous over every surface. It does have a little bump-thump over bigger potholes, but then so does the all-conquering Range Rover.

Helped by superb, air conditioned leather seats, it just rolls over speed humps and wafts you along poor surfaced undulating roads like a magic carpet.

Road holding in the Normal mode is slightly roly poly, but it grips very well, probably helped by the permanent four wheel drive (4WD).

And of course, that 4WD makes it an excellent towcar, with a maximum braked trailer weight of 2,700kg.

Economy, with careful driving, is likely to be 20-25mpg out on the road.

Safety, as with every Volvo, is absolutely brilliant and it comes with a lane keeping aid, cross traffic alert, distance alert, speed limit assist and road sign information.

Other standard equipment in this top Inscription model includes cruise, electric seats, park assist front and rear and an all round camera, automatic start stop, DAB stereo, Bluetooth, driver performance info, apple car play, sat nav, a 12-inch screen and much more.

Seven seats are standard and there's enough legroom in the rear two for adults to sit comfortably. With the seats folded, the boot is huge and legroom in the first two rows is excellent.

FAST FACTS

Price: £57,300

Mechanical: 315bhp, 1,969cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 143mph

0-62mph: 6.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 34

Insurance Group: 40

C02 emissions: 184g/km

Bik rating: 35%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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