Keen to change its automaker image from premium to luxury, the XC90 Excellence comes loaded with creature comforts unlike anything it has offered previously, except you probably wouldn’t be able to tell just by looking at it. Aside from the ‘Excellence’ badging and some lashings of chrome on the exterior, and the new eight-spoke alloy wheels, there’s little to suggest its range-topping status or the levels luxury that is lavished behind its doors. Its unassuming discretion is actually quite admirable and is something the Swedes have an affinity for.
Describing it as its most luxurious car ever built in its 88-year history, Volvo also wants to steal attention and customers away from upcoming competitors from entrants Rolls Royce and Bentley into the SUV space, as well as the fending off the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE in their most premium trim (which this still blows away). While it doesn’t have the badge prestige of the Rolls and Bentley, the XC90 Excellence’s interior can stand up to the best of them. First of all, Volvo has thrown out the rear seats and centre seat in the middle row, bringing the occupant count to just four with each having an individual seat. Obviously, this is a car that’s made to be driven around in rather than driven.
Rear passengers get ample legroom and enjoy reclining first-class airline inspired seats that massage, are heated and ventilated, has retractable foot rests, and tray tables that fold into a centre console that stretches through the entire cabin, on which there is a refrigerator and a set of hand-made Orrefors crystal glasses that can be sat in cup holders that can be cooled or heated at the touch of a button. Rounding off the luxuries are moveable touchscreens for each of the two rear passenger seats and ambient lighting. To isolate yourself from the outside world even further, Volvo has included much more sound insulation in the cabin, Pirelli Noise Cancelling System tyres, and a 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system. There’s also a CleanZone climate system that utilizes an ionic air cleaner to remove dust or smoke particles.
"This is our new flagship car," said Thomas Ingenlath, Senior Vice President, Design. "We have created the ultimate luxury experience of Scandinavian design. Volvo has never launched a car like this before. This is the car that demonstrates what the name Volvo now means."
Although Volvo remains silent on the exact technical details for this early preview, the T8 “twin engine” logo on the car’s rear hints at it being – if it’s like the normal XC90 T8 - a plug-in hybrid that’s powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder gasoline engine that is supercharged and turbocharged as well as being augmented by an electric motor, and a larger 60 kW electric motor mounted between the rear wheels. Together, these produce roughly 400 hp and 640 Nm of torque, sending drive to all four wheels. Volvo will likely tweak those figures to better suit the driving conditions, fuel economy, and passenger comfort of this particular model up until its official launch, however.
The XC90 Excellence is set to go on sale globally later in 2015, with the Swedish automaker specifying price, the countries it will be offered in, along with how many units it intends to produce in the lead up to its full production. Interestingly, or rather futuristically, customers in some markets will be able to purchase it over the internet.