Volvo has been going through a transition at the moment that's really putting pressure on the other high-end manufacturers. The popularity of the XC90 is growing and the likes of Audi and BMW are seeing that what's in store with the future 90 Series is enough for them to really pull up their socks and start working.
The XC90 landed in 2015 and straight away its strong visuals appealed to the masses. This SUV looks the part. Its appearances is strong and luxurious. Inside you're met with an interior that's hard to better. It's comfortable, spacious and leaves drivers with a good feeling. It ticks so many of the right boxes.
So, where does it fall down? Well, the good news is that it's pretty much an all-round good job. A few things could be tweaked. The ride can be harsh on occasion and cornering is a bit tough if you're travelling at even slightly higher speeds. The other downside is road noise - for some reason, this high-end ride just doesn't seem padded enough. To be honest, I can forgive the ride and cornering, however the road noise is not befitting of this machine.
My first test drive in the XC90 was with their 2.0 litre D5 engine. The T8 hybrid version feels a little quieter - this of course mainly applies on account of the fact that you're running on a petrol engine and battery most of the time.
The D5 gives a very respectable 225hp and even though the XC90 weighs in the 2-tonne bracket, it's not what I'd call sluggish. The T8 model is a joy to put the foot down in because the combination of the petrol engine and the battery offers a very respectable 396bhp.
The 8-speed automatic transmission works smoothly enough in the D5 but it can hold onto the gears a little too long on the off. The mid-range performance on the D5 is very attractive, it's just that initial 0-100km/h that get you in terms of the gears.
The T8 with the plug-in hybrid technology is perfect for the school runs - especially if you've got a bit of spare money to buy one. While it may be clever with its Twin Engine, the fuel tank is very small and I wouldn't be too keen on doing long journeys in it too often, as there will be plenty of refuels and re-charges required to circumnavigate the country.
When I tested the V60 Twin Engine diesel hybrid I had problems achieving the 50km battery distance. To be honest, I was lucky to get 9 or 10km. However, when the Twin Engine is mixed with petrol, the battery distance is a little more reliable. Sadly, my first T8 test car didn't have a charge cable but the regenerative power was more than impressive.
The D5 engine has an on-paper fuel economy of 5.7l/100km. Unfortunately, I was only achieving 9.0l/100km in real world driving. For the size of the vehicle, this 9.0l/100km is not awful and the fuel tank is 71 litres, so it will bring you a fair distance.
Road tax on the D5 comes in at €390. If you're in the market for a very attractive hybrid, then the T8 should set you back €170 per annum in road tax - the T8 has a claimed economy of 2.1 l/100km, but as I didn't have a charge cable I can't return a fair figure.
Prices are high-enough for this type of luxury, but it remains competitive when put against the BMW X5 and the Audi Q7. Entry level prices for the D5 engine starts from €71,450. If you fancy the look of the car itself and if you want to go in at the entry level D4 2WD version, then prices starts from €63,450. The Twin Engine T8 starts from €81,950.
Overall, the XC90 was a great start to the new 90 Series. It is shaking the competition, and the arrival of the S90 and V90 (January 2017 we think) will prove to be game-changing to this luxury segment.
For: Excellent luxury
Against: Road noise