Volvo is promising that its second-generation XC90 will be the safest and most fuel-friendly SUV on the market when it lands in New Zealand around the middle of next year.
It will first break cover here in February when two models go on show during the stopover for the Volvo round-the-world yacht race. “At this stage,” said Volvo NZ general manager Stephen Kenchington, “we are led to believe that they will both be left-hand drive with one static and one driveable.”
The first NZ-spec all-wheel-drive XC90s are expected to arrive in May/June. A front-drive model will come later in the production cycle; so too a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid. Kenchington said he would like to bring in the hybrid XC90, “if possible.” “We are still discussing the model line-up, as price may dictate what we might lock in. However, a diesel and petrol combination will be evident,” he said.
The boosted petrol and diesel engines are part of what Volvo calls the Drive-E family – E for economy and environment friendly. They are all 2.0-litre units mated to eight-speed auto boxes. The 235kW T6 petrol runs a turbocharger and supercharger; the 165kW D5 diesel gets twin turbochargers.
The hybrid XC90 marries a 2.0-litre petrol engine and an electric motor to generate 290kW. It is not only the most powerful model but also the cleanest, with claimed C02 exhaust emissions of only 60gr/km.
The new XC90 is longer, taller and wider than the outgoing unit and will be officially unveiled at the Paris motor show early in October as the first all-new car to emerge under the brand’s current Chinese ownership.
It comes with equipment the Swedish carmaker is developing in its quest to prevent anyone being seriously injured or dying in a Volvo by 2020. This includes two world-first safety systems: a run-off road protection package tightens seatbelts and activates energy-absorbing technology in the seats when the car detects challenging terrain ahead. Another system is the auto-braking feature, which cuts in if a driver pulls out in front of oncoming traffic.
Volvo claims the new XC90 is not only one of the safest cars ever made but also the world’s first SUV built without compromise. Key to the SUV’s new footprint is the Product Architecture (SPA), which will underpin a whole new range of models.
It’s a lighter and stronger platform than that which underpins the current XC90 and allows for improved passenger space, especially in the second and third row of seats. Volvo claims the third row will comfortably sit adult passengers up to 1.67m tall.
The new car also signals a new design direction, first seen on the Volvo Coupe Concept where . The prominent grille is a first from Volvo and will become a trademark feature on future models; so too will the T-shaped LED daytime running lights.
Inside, a new iPad-like touchscreen replaces buttons and dials and is the centerpiece of a clutter-free dash. Elsewhere, there is wood and leather and handcrafted highlights such as the crystal-glass gear level and diamond cut designs for the starter button and volume controls.
The XC90 will go up against the Audi Q7, BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz ML, Porsche Cayenne and Lexus RX. The first-generation XC90 landed here in 2003 and since then Volvo NZ has sold 710 units. “That excludes imported vehicles,” says Kenchington. “So it is likely that there are more than 1000 units on the road here.”