Volvo XC90 desert driving
This was confirmed to me yesterday as we drove the powerful vehicles in the desert outside Dubai, in the Middle East.
The cars which come to South Africa will be fully equipped, with a 5-speed Geartronic automatic gearbox and a lusty 235 kW V8 petrol engine driving through permanent four-wheel drive.
The luxury specification includes climate control aircon, a front loader CD/radio with multi-disc capacity, soft leather trim, and full electric operation of seats, windows, and mirrors, as well as a comprehensive safety package which includes rollover protection.
Although not equipped with low ratios, the XC90 V8s acquitted themselves well during our short drive in the desert, which included a fair amount of dune driving.
Once the DTSC traction control had been switched off to allow wheels to spin - which you need in sand driving - the car ploughed through deep sand with ease, the high torque of the compact 4.4 litre V8 helping to maintain speed against the drag of the desert sand.
We climbed steep dunes with the Geartronic gearbox set in manual mode second gear and easily whooshed down the other side with the gear locked up in first, while coping with the tough camel grass humps proved no problem for the XC90's all-independent suspension.
On the open road the cars were powerful and responsive, with a top speed of 208 km/h.
It is expected the vehicle will be available in either 5-seat or seven-seater specifications, and pricing is expected to be in the region of R560 000 to R580 000 when the car gets to SA around November time.