Volvo XC90 T6 R-Design: Sweetly Swedish

For the longest time, Volvo’s designs has been called dated and traditional, with its all-too familiar squarish and abruptly-ending edges. In this aspect, even its flagship SUV, the XC90, looked exceedingly boxy, notwithstanding the fact that it stood taller than most other SUVs on the roads.

But in a daring step forward, the Swedish marque has introduced a totally new facade to its line, with the introduction of the new XC90. True enough, the car still does look intimidating, especially when it pulls up behind you, but its every other feature in this new makeover would wow, rather than scare you.

We took a drive in the specced-up XC90 T6 R-Design and find out how it fares.

A step into the future

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The new XC90 may measure some 10 mm lower than its predecessor, but it is by no means less appealing. Up front, you’re treated to Volvo’s new signature T-shaped LED running lights with its squinted eye headlight assembly, enhancing its aggressiveness on the roads, and putting it up as one of the more futuristic vehicles on the roads.

On the R-Line, you enjoy a newly-designed honeycomb front grille, proudly wearing the Swedish badge diagonally across, complimented with other R-Line designs such as a five-spoked 20″ rims and rectangular exhaust outlets at the rear.

Adopting a rather similar stance to the XC60’s rear design, the tail light assemblies of the XC90 runs downwards from the top of the tailgate to the bottom, retaining a tinge of its traditional box-design midway through just below the window-line.

Cluttered no more?

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If you think the exterior of the XC90 wore a totally different look from its predecessor, the interior might just amaze you even further. Clean and tidy would probably be an understatement to compare its predecessor and the new SUV we drove.

For starters, Volvo did away with the traditional air-conditioning seat design buttons right in the center console, and replaced the entire area with what seems to be a huge iPad measuring 9.0″ diagonally.

But the iPad lookalike tablet aside, the XC90 amazed us with its impeccable build quality and utilisation of space. The conspicuously-arranged control buttons on the front transmission console looks sparse but yet easy to navigate. Exclusively to the R-Design, a crystallized knob just aft of the gear level allows you to select your drive mode on the go with ease.

Across the interior, the XC90 provides an abundance of space, even in the third row. You could fit your average sized Asian adult behind and he wouldn’t have any complaints even on a drive up north.

With a 7-seat configuration, the XC90 provides 385 litres of boot space, but flip down the third row (with ease thanks to electronically-controlled buttons) and you will be offered up to 1,868 litres of luggage space!

How does it fare on the roads?

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We expected an SUV this size to encounter some sort of difficulty on your normal everyday drive, but the XC90 T6 R-Design proved us wrong.

Fitted with a 2.0 litre turbocharged and supercharged plant putting out 320 horses and 400 Nm of torque, the XC90 turns out to be no slow feat on the roads. With a swift pick-up and precise steering, the T6 R-Design completes its century sprint in just 6.5 seconds, impressive for a car its size and weight.

From the driver’s perspective, the XC90 doesn’t look nor feel its size. It’s amazingly nimble and easy to maneuver even in urban conditions. Power is in abundance in the T6 variant, with both the turbocharger and supercharger working in tandem with the seamless eight-speed transmission. Cruising along the freeways, we were impressed to note that there’s minimal body roll, and suspension feels firm unlike the other floaty rides in some other SUVs.

So is the XC90 worth buying?

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For S$345,000, it is not exactly a hefty price to pay given that you’ll be loaded with refinement, luxury, and an extraordinarily comfortable ride.

Pitted against its competitors, the XC90 T6 R-Design might not necessarily win in terms of power, but the myriad of the above might just put it a notch higher to boost its appeal.

In that, we say it might be worth that second look.

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