Volvo has at last pulled the covers from its big new seven-seat XC90 SUV, almost exactly one year since the first shadowy teasers were revealed.
The result of three years development and a nearly $12 billion investment (a cost that will be spread across Volvo’s new models), the 2015 XC90 replaces a model that first appeared in 2002.
And while that first-generation XC90 will continue in China as the ‘XC90 Classic’, this all-new model will make its global showroom debut over the coming months.
All-new it is, too, with Volvo’s new Drive-E engines providing motivation and the company’s versatile Scaleable Platform Architecture (SPA) sitting beneath.
New Design Language
On the styling front, the new XC90 is the real-world realisation of a design boss Thomas Ingenlath’s new look, revealed first with the Coupe Concept last year.
More specifically, the big new SUV takes its styling directly from the three-door XC Coupe concept that debuted early in 2014.
As with that concept, this new XC90 boasts powerful proportions and typically understated yet sharp Swedish lines as a new evolution of Volvo’s familiar look.
Dominating the design is that long iconic grille, flanked by headlights that showcase a new ‘Thor’s Hammer’ daytime LED design.
Subtle but crisp character lines pass through the SUV’s profile, terminating in a new take on Volvo’s vertically aligned and hooked tail-light design.
The new XC90 rides on a 2984mm wheelbase, making it a whopping 127mm longer between the wheels than the outgoing model.
It is also a noteable step beyond the 2933mm wheelbase of the new BMW X5 and the Mercedes M-Class SUV's 2916mm wheelbase.
It is also 70mm wider than its predecessor and markedly wider than its key rivals in the prestige SUV segment.
But, despite its growth, the 2015 XC90 is 125kg lighter, thanks in great part to extensive use of ultra high-strength boron steel in its construction.
On The Inside
In the cabin, we see a tall dash design built around a large tablet-like display that will control many of the new SUV’s function, flanked by tall vents and a slender air-conditioning switch panel below.
A wide digital instrument cluster sits behind the new three-spoke steering wheel, while a combination of wood and aluminium highlights - including diamond-cut switches in the centre console - feature throughout the cabin.
As a seven-seat offering, the new XC90 also boasts an ultra-thin seat design in the first and second rows for increased legroom in the second and third rows.
The standard seating package, dubbed ‘Comfort’, offers powered operation, adjustable bolsters, cushion extension, multi-directional lumbar support and three-setting memory.
Optional ‘Contour’ seats will also be offered, adding additional side support from the shoulders to the thighs.
The second row is devised of three individual seats with recline and sliding functions, offering more legroom in the second row or more cargo space when the third row is folded flat.
Four-zone climate control will also be offered with the new XC90 as an optional extra, adding individual settings for front and second-row occupants.
Note: Certain key details, including storage capacity, are still to be revealed.
Features and Technologies
Volvo prides itself on decades of advanced safety developments, and the new XC90 will be no different.
The Swedish carmaker is claiming a number of world-firsts with this new model, including a new ‘Run-off road Protection’ system.
If the system detects that the vehicle has unintentionally left the road, the seatbelts are pre-tensioned while the vehicle is still moving.
Back on the road, the XC90 also features lane-keeping assistance and a new evolution of autonomous emergency braking that will apply the brakes if the driver tries to turn in front of an oncoming car at intersections.
‘Queue Assist’ operates the vehicle almost fully-autonomously in low speed situations, applying throttle, brake and steering input while stuck in traffic jams.
The queueing feature is joined by pre-crash detection for rear impacts, Roll Stability Control, Autonomous Emergency Braking (‘City Safety’), blind-spot monitoring and road sign recognition.
The Park Assist Pilot now comes with a reverse perpendicular parking feature, joining the existing reverse parallel park. But unlike most systems, Volvo’s will now assist you as you exit the parking space as well.
Parking is also made easier by the new 360 degree ‘bird’s-eye view’ camera system, allowing the driver to see the entire surroundings of the vehicle through four ‘fish-eye’ cameras.
Safety extends into the XC90’s construction, with the new SUV’s body formed from 40 percent hot-formed boron steel - making it five times stronger than the first generation XC90.
Comfort and connectivity access are built around a logical on-screen control system that Volvo says “will become part of your muscle memory very quickly”.
As with other new models on the market today, the XC90’s Sensus system sees many of the traditional switches and dials replaced with on-screen controls.
The system is controlled largely by touch, although it will be integrated with a heads-up display at the windscreen and a large adaptive digital instrument cluster, with controls in the steering wheel.
Other features will include an online cloud storage and connectivity system developed by Ericsson, along with a Bowers & Wilkins audio package and Nokia’s HERE navigation system.
Drive-E Engine Options
The new XC90 will be driven exclusively by four-cylinder engines - including a hybrid option, and the range will be headlined by the ‘T8 Twin Engine’ system.
Sitting at the top of the line-up, the T8 pairs a turbo- and supercharged 2.0 litre Drive-E petrol engine with a 60kW electric motor.
With the petrol engine motivating the front wheels and the electric motor sending power to the rear, the T8’s plug-in hybrid system will offer a combined 298kW and 640Nm of torque.
Volvo says that the engine’s supercharger will work at the bottom end of the rev range to create the impression of a powerful naturally-aspirated engine, with the turbocharger coming online as airflow builds up.
The rear wheels benefit from the immediate torque inherent with electric motors, and drivers will have the ability to drive either on electric power alone - for around 40 kilometres - or switch back to petrol-electric driving.
As a plug-in hybrid, the T8 also keeps carbon emissions low - around 60g/km.
Importantly, the design of Volvo’s Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA) already incorporated plans for electrification, meaning that the hybrid system in the T8 will not compromise passenger or storage space.
Conventional versions of the Drive-E engines will also feature, with both diesel and petrol buyers catered to.
Diesel options will include the 168kW/450Nm twin-turbo D5 that lists fuel consumption at just 6.0 l/100km, while the less powerful but even more frugal 142kW/400Nm D4 drops fuel use to 5.0 l/100km.
On the petrol side will sit the 189kW/350Nm T5, followed by the turbo- and supercharged T6 with 238kW and 400Nm.
All Australian models are expected to be all-wheel-drive and seven-seat, and it is understood that the new range will be significantly more expensive than the outgoing XC90.
Watch for the all-new XC90 to make its Australian debut in the first-half of 2015.