STOCKHOLM, Sweden - The whole story is out at last from Volvo after months of speculation about its all-new XC90, a sleek seven-seat SUV which claims world-leading safety features, new power-train technologies, unrivalled power and fuel-efficiency and “a superlative interior finish”.
Volvo invested the equivalent of about R110-billlion in the new car and it took three years to bring to the presses, racks and robots of the factory floor. The company, in its media release delivered worldwide at midnight last night, says the car will open a new chapter in Volvo’s history.
YEAR TO WAIT
Volvo SA told Wheels24 the international media launch of the XC90 would be “around March 2015”, the cars arriving in South Africa in the second half of that year – “perhaps August”. Which models can be expected will be announced closer to the launch date, the local company added, but prices could be expected to start at just under R800 000.
IMAGE GALLERY: 2015 Volvo XC90
Video: Take a drive in the Arctic snow
Hakan Samuelsson, president and CEO of the Volvo Car Group, was quoted in the media material downloaded by Wheels24 moments after it was made available as saying: “This is one of the most important days in our history. We are not just launching a car, but re-launching our brand.”
That history goes back 87 years.
“This day marks a new era for our company,” he added. “The all-new Volvo XC90 paves the way for a portfolio of exciting new cars to come.”
'THOR'S HAMMER' LIGHTS
The XC90 is the first of its cars to carry the company’s new and more prominent “iron mark” - the iconic arrow aligned with the diagonal slash across the radiator grille.
“Together with the T-shaped ‘Thor’s Hammer’ daytime running lights,” Volvo says, “the iron mark introduces an entirely new, distinctive and confident face for Volvo’s forthcoming generation of cars.”
Meanwhile, here’s what Thomas Ingenlath, senior vice-president for design with the Volvo Car Group, has to say about the first of that generation...
“The large bonnet with its new topography, the beltline and the sharpened shoulders connecting with the tattoo-like rear lights are important design signatures that will be mirrored across the range.
“To add more visual muscle from the sides, the XC90 comes with a range of wheel sizes up to 22” and the overall impression, exterior and interior, has a strong connection to the key elements of the Swedish lifestyle: generous space, the celebration of light and the focus on well-being.”
'SUV WITHOUT COMPROMISES'
The car claims an outstanding combination of luxury, space, versatility, efficiency and safety just as, the media material says, the original Volvo XC90 achieved in 2002.
Peter Mertens, senior vice-president for R&D, explained: “We have created the world’s first SUV without compromises. You get the in-command feel, generous interior space and flexible capability combined with the agility and smooth comfort of a much smaller and lower car.
“The adrenalin rush that is key to true driving pleasure is delivered by power trains with an unrivalled combination of power and clean operation. Since the all-new Volvo XC90 carries the Volvo badge, world-class safety is standard.”
Motive power comes from a range of two-litre, four-cylinder Drive-E power units, each of which, Volvo says, “provide an outstanding combination of performance and fuel-efficiency”.
Top of the range is the T8 Twin Engine, which combines a two-litre, four-cylinder, supercharged and turbocharged petrol engine with an electric motor to deliver about 295kW with carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of around 60g/km (NEDC driving cycle).
That’s one of the power units expected for South Africa; another is the all-wheel drive D5 First Edition, initially priced at R1 050 000.
The XC90, Volvo adds, will have “the most comprehensive and technologically sophisticated standard safety package available in the automotive industry”. A bold statement, but it does include two world-first safety technologies: a run-off road protection package and auto braking at road junctions.
• The first detects that the car is about to leave the highway and tightens the front seat belts.
• The second makes the XC90 the first car in the world to have automatic braking that will operate should the driver turn in front of oncoming car – “a common scenario at busy city crossings as well as on highways, where the speed limits are higher”.
‘City Safety’ is the umbrella name for all of Volvo Cars’ auto brake functions, standard on the XC90. The system now covers vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians in front of the car – day or night.
Mertens explained: “The new technologies will take us a significant step closer to our vision that by 2020 nobody will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car.
"Our starting point on safety is the same today as it was when the company was created almost 90 years ago: real life. We study data. We crunch numbers. We innovate.
“The result is one of the safest cars yet made.”
The process, Volvo says, will be continued with autonomous (self-driving) cars, starting with the ability to automatically follow the vehicle ahead in stop/go traffic – a system already available on other upmarket brands in South Africa.
The XC90’s interior is, the automaker says, the most luxurious yet. For instance, there’s “a tablet-like touch screen control console, which forms the heart of an all-new in-car control system”.
Check the gallery images with this news item and you will see the system is almost button-free “an entirely new way for drivers to control their car and access a range of Internet-based products and services”.
Ingenlath expanded: “The new interior is pure and uncluttered but still has the sophisticated confidence and formality expected by luxury SUV customers.
"The simplicity is perfectly in tune with our Scandinavian design heritage, opens up generous surfaces and gives us the opportunity to create a modern, luxurious interior architecture.”
Included in that “architecture” are soft leather and wood with handcrafted details that include a crystal gear-shifter and diamond-cut controls for the start/stop button and audio controls.
“Craftsmanship,” Ingenlath adds, “has been in sharp focus during the whole development work.”
The XC90 is, Volvo says, “a genuine seven-seater” (agan, see gallery images) and promises comfort for two third-row occupants – provided they are not taller than 1.7m.
Audio entertainment comes through systems from the UK’s Bowers & Wilkins; the range-topping installation includes a 1400 Watt Class D amplifier and 19 speakers, among them one of the first air-ventilated sub-woofers to be installed in a car: Volvo says it turns the whole interior space into a giant sub-woofer.
The XC90 is available with a range of accessories that “makes it possible for a buyer owner to create a truly personalised car” through two major exterior styling themes:
• The Urban Luxury package combines a colour co-ordinated body kit with polished stainless-steel details, among them front deco frames, front and rear skid plates and side scuff plates. 21” polished wheels complete the elegant look.
• The Rugged Luxury kit adds matte black exterior trim, stainless-steel skid plates, illuminated running boards, special exhaust pipes and unique 22” wheels.
Volvo disclaimer: Descriptions and facts in this media material relate to Volvo Car Group's international car range.
Described features might be optional. Vehicle specifications may vary from one country to another and may be altered without prior notification.