Big Volvo just got

even better

Volvo XC90, front
Volvo XC90, front
Volvo XC90, side
Volvo XC90, front
Volvo XC90, rear
Volvo XC90, rear
Volvo XC90, interior
Volvo XC90, interior
Volvo XC90 B5, 2019, rear seats

IN a year when the market for new cars has fallen and continues to fall, Volvo is way ahead of the game with its latest range of cars and SUVs, posting a significant increase in sales.

And the appeal of its cars can only increase when its aim of electrifying every model in the range reaches fruition in the not too distant future.

The latest model in the fleet is the beautifully plush 2020 mild-hybrid XC90 B5 diesel, which replaces the D5.

It uses the same powerful twin turbocharged 2.0-litre diesel but adds a 48 volt battery, an energy recovery system and a starter generator.

The complete set up, which drives all four wheels through a smooth and silky eight-speed automatic gearbox, brings a 15 per cent economy improvement in real road driving from the old model.

The battery is charged automatically under braking and deceleration and this energy is then used to give added performance for acceleration and to power ancillaries like the headlights and the superb audio system.

The B5 also also gets updated automatic transmission, which brings improved fuel efficiency, even smoother gear changes and it has sharper acceleration from standstill thanks to greater low speed pulling power.

Like all the Volvos these days, simply getting into this B5 Inscription is an occasion, a moment to be cherished.

Acres of beautiful leather greet you as you slide into the heated and cooled, electrically adjusted seat, and there is plenty of legroom both in the middle and third row of seats.

These two extra seats pull easily up from the floor of the gargantuan boot when needed, and drop just as easily back down again with a complete lack of fuss.

The cockpit is well-designed and almost all digital, with a clear and informative binnacle and a vertical A4-shaped infotainment screen at the top of the centre console.

Some of the switches on this screen are too small to hit easily on the move, but thankfully, there's a very well sorted voice recognition system that carries out most functions for you once you get used to it.

The XC90 is a lovely car to drive and to live with. It's by no means the fastest SUV on the block, but it's no slouch either, hitting 62 miles an hour from rest in just 7.6 seconds.

When you need maximum urge for overtaking, it's there in spades and yet the engine is barely audible most of the time - even when asked for maximum grunt.

Volvo claims that 44.1 miles per gallon is possible if you minimise weight and go for the smallest alloy wheels and for a vehicle weighing well over two tonnes, that is fantastic.

And it can pull a braked trailer weighing up to 2.7 tonnes - enough for the largest caravan, horsebox or trailer.

The gearbox has a manual setting but the sideways motion for up and down the gears is not intuitive.

There is also Volvo's Drive Mode Selector, which has Eco, Normal, Dynamic and Individual settings.

Eco and Normal maximise on comfort, which is absolutely brilliant, and even Dynamic, which sharpens steering, gearbox and engine response, doesn't spoil the ride too much even though it stiffens the suspension.

And safety is superb, as with every Volvo, with a huge array of electronics to help protect occupants in the worst of situations.

Inscription spec brings a very high level of kit. Including stability control, alarm, climate, sat nav and parking sensors with a rear camera that has indicator lines to help with parking.

There's a DAB radio and aux in for external music sources, plus Apple Carplay, Android Auto, Spotify and more. And even the steering wheel is heated for those cold winter mornings.

FAST FACTS

Price:£46,230

Mechanical:235bhp, 1,969cc, 4cyl diesel/electric engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed:137mph

0-62mph:7.6 seconds

Combined MPG:44

Insurance Group: 37

C02 emissions:154g/km

Bik rating:37%

Warranty:3yrs/60,000 miles

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