Yes, the pun was indeed intended. Sitting in the new Volvo XC90 feels like sitting in the plush cockpit of a modern aircraft that has just landed on our shores. Perhaps, the only aspect that is missing (in a cockpit) is the sheer level of luxury and refinement that dominates the experience inside the new XC90.
The new Volvo XC90 feels, and is intrinsically, very ‘new’ – the design of the exterior is arguably one of the sharpest, and perhaps the most stunning, that Volvo has produced to date; and very likely its design characteristics will eventually shape other models in the range, not least that of its smaller sibling – the popular XC60.
The design is ‘new’ because it feels, and is, radically different to its predecessor, which was already a very competent 4x4. The exterior look is very fresh and crisp, with a stylish front that features one of the coolest headlamps on the market, as well as a rebranded Volvo badge that looks much sleeker and blends very well with the aerodynamic external design of the new XC90. On the exterior, what really connects the new XC90 to its predecessor and undoubtedly to the whole Volvo range is its back, which although redesigned from scratch, still carries the iconic design characteristics that define the Volvo brand, recognisable even from a distance.
If the exterior is stunning, the interior is something else. Indeed, the interior has a wow factor… that celebrity look-and-feel that is hard to come by. We’ve never come across such a bold statement in a dashboard. The central control unit is dominated by a dynamic ‘tablet-look-a-like’ touch screen that guides you (in the same sophisticated-yet-user-friendly way that an Apple or a Samsung smart phone or tablet does) through the navigation of the vehicle – so you can touch and swipe through the endless list of features that make this car so special (we test-drove the Inscription model, which is the fully specked model. Notwithstanding that, even the entry level model is very generous and loaded with equipment that is sadly often branded as ‘optional’ by competitive brands).
The interior is very appealing aesthetically, with high-end stitched leather that connects the seats, dashboard and the interior of the doors in a stunning fashion. Back to the ‘tablet’, which incidentally has one of the best graphics and resolution tested to date. This tablet is your best friend inside the luxury cabin. Through the tablet you can use your satellite navigation, set the climate control, pick the music that tickles your fancy, instruct the vehicle to find a parking space (daunting task in tiny Malta, but nonetheless it is a task performed to perfection), and you can also instruct the vehicle to park itself automatically.
The car is fully equipped with extras and scores very highly when it comes to safety, and that includes alerting you if you are getting too close for comfort to the car in front of you by measuring distance versus your acceleration and it takes an instant average. It also promptly brings to your attention the fact that you have departed from your lane, and it does so to perfection.
On a practical level, the interior is also very spacious, with ample headroom and legroom. The Volvo XC90 imported to Malta by GasanZammit has seven seats, making it a very strong contender for families or people who enjoy travelling with friends.
The driving experience per se is superlative. Very smooth handling, solid grip and road handling, excellent suspension, beautiful torque and response are all characteristics that make the Volvo XC90 one of the hottest large SUVs currently available on the local market.
VERDICT: If you’re scouring the market for a luxurious seven-seater SUV, you should seriously consider booking a test-drive to experience the XC90 for yourself. It is an SUV that scores very highly in all areas. Owning the XC90 is equivalent to pleasing both the heart and the mind: owning and driving a practical, spacious SUV while at the same time going round in a luxury executive vehicle that is very difficult to beat. It is also a head-turner and a fresh model that will be around for many years to come.
You can view the Volvo XC90 at GasanZammit Motors Ltd at Gasan Centre, Mriehel Bypass, Mriehel. For more information T: 2778 8200; E: [email protected]