Volvo XC90 T6 R-Design: Elegantly Swedish

Volvo has, for the longest time, marketed itself as one of the world’s safest cars to be in. After all, you can’t deny the countless awards at annual Euro NCAP tests the marque has clinched.

Aside from its safety awards, Volvo has also been known as rather dated in terms of its aesthetic appeal. The boxiness and cluttered interior proved to be a turn-off for some of its potential buyers.

But things have since changed, and the Swedish marque took a leap forward to raise expectations and travel into a more futuristic realm with the new XC90.

We took a drive to find out how well it actually looked (and fared).

Love a first sight (not?)

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Admittedly for us, it wasn’t exactly love at first sight when we saw the unveiling of the XC90 last year. With streamlined headlight assemblies and a presumably oversized grille, we thought the front of this 7-seater SUV looked slightly out of proportion.

But the design of the XC90 eventually grew on us after a good few days. It is, after all, sleeker and more aggressive compared to its predecessor.

Our test car was an R-Design variant, which includes a honeycomb grille with Volvo’s new LED daytime running lights, enhancing the aggressiveness of its first impression to bystanders.

Standing at 4,950 mm long and 1,775 m high, the XC90 is approximately 140 mm longer and 9 mm lower, but it doesn’t change its road presence and maneuverability on the roads.

Such a clean interior, and what a giant iPad!

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Those were exactly our thoughts (and I dare say most others) when we first slipped into the cabin of the new XC90. After all, this is considered a breakthrough from Volvo’s traditional cluttered center console.

Tech geeks would find themselves obsessing over the 9.0″ iPad-lookalike touch screen in the centre of the console. Essentially, this infotainment centre is the heart of your XC90, controlling almost every feature from adjusting your front passenger’s seat to setting safety features.

Across the interior, the XC90 offers Fine Nappa leather, something which further impressed us given the comfort and refinement of this top notch cabin. There were subtle signs of Swedish identity hidden in inconspicuous corners, such as tiny Swedish flags by the side of the seat trimmings, to further reinforce the fact that the quality is next to perfect.

The XC90 sits five adults extremely comfortably, considering that Volvo’s interior space has always been one of their unique selling points. The addition of two more seats at the third row proved more comfortable than we expected. Sure, it ain’t your luxury first class seat and legroom, but it managed to house the average 1.7 metre tall adult comfortably.

Out at the rear, fret not if you have massive luggages to ferry, or are looking at helping a friend move. Expandable up to 1,868 litres, the XC90 offers plenty of space with the second and third rows’ seats down.

Small Engine, Vast Refinement and Performance

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The T6 we drove may only house a 2.0 litre turbocharged and supercharged plant, but it certainly feels bigger and stronger than that.

Putting out 320 horses and 400 Nm of torque, the T6 gets you to the century mark in just 6.5 seconds, which is pretty remarkable for a car this size.

Volvo’s eight-speed Geartronic transmission system also offered us seamless gear changes even in times of hard driving, allowing us to enjoy the amazingly cushioned and insulated ride.

Considering it’s size, you can’t expect zero body roll on the XC90. But despite this, the car grips well and takes on the sharpest bends without much dis-“traction” (pun intended).

And dare we say, even though we sit higher and measures up bigger than most others on the roads, we felt very much at ease navigating this SUV even in the tightest of corners in the city centre.

So is it worth buying?

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If you’re looking for sheer power and sportiness, perhaps the XC90 isn’t the choice for you, even with its R-Design kit.

But the XC90 T6 R-Design does offer itself as an attractive option to those seeking that impressive mix of pure refinement, elegance, and space. It is, after all, elegantly Swedish.

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