Volvo Car Malaysia has officially launched one of, if not the most, exciting SUVs of the year: the all-new second-generation XC90. Initially available in its top T8 Twin Engine spec, the plug-in hybrid SUV will be on sale in showrooms for a cool RM453k. A very strong proposition, considering just how much it has to offer. Oh yes, and it’s also quite a looker.
Starting with the looks, you most likely have seen the new XC90 prior to its Malaysian launch. Indeed, this generation has been on sale since earlier this year but in spite of this assumed familiarity, when viewed up close it retains a lasting modernity that will keep even as-yet under wraps products from competitors at bay. It’s a smoothly designed exterior, with subtle curves and haunches that works very well to distinguish it on the road.
Under the hood lies Volvo’s Twin Engine powetrain, which, in the all-new XC90, houses a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that is both turbocharged and supercharged to produce a lofty 320hp and 400Nm of torque, mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Aiding it is an electric motor that produces and additional 87hp and 240Nm of torque to yield a maximum power figure of 407hp and 640Nm of torque. That’s a lot of power, and enables the 2.3 ton SUV to sprint from 0-100km/h in just 5.6 seconds.
That all-important electric motor derives energy from a 9.2kWh lithium-ion battery which is able to provide the all-new XC90 with a claimed electric-only range of up to 40km, preventing the need for turning on the internal combustion engine at all during most commutes. Using a conventional wall socket (pending complementary verification from Volvo), the battery can be charged from zero to full capacity within 3.5 to 5 hours, they say. Working in tandem, the twincharged 2.0-litre engine and electric motor allows the car to reach a claimed fuel economy figure of just 2.1-litres/100km.
Our little time spent with the all-new XC90 left us very impressed with its interior, particularly the suppleness of the leather. Sitting in it is a very comfortable experience, which is further echoed by the very functional but simple dashboard and control layout as well as the obvious lack of buttons. Volvo and Porsche clearly have very differing approaches interior controls. A lightly faded textured dark wood is used on the door panel, dashboard, and transmission tunnel. Very classy.
There is a rather large centre-mounted touchscreen infotainment unit that is placed vertically, an uncommon but logical arrangement. We’ll need more time with it to report further, but upon our brief impressions, we were struck with how smoothly it responded to our inputs, the lack of visual clutter, and the elegance of its interface design. The gear level too does not conform to standards. Rather, it is made from a crystal glass that acts as a centrepiece for the XC90’s cabin.
It is a Volvo, after all, so safety features have been placed in top priority, with what the Swedish manufacturer touts as the “most comprehensive” standard safety package in the automotive industry. This includes automatic braking that covers cyclists and pedestrians in addition to vehicles and is able to detect/evade them during the day and night, which is part of the ‘Intellisafe’ suite.
The XC90 was right to be one of the most anticipated cars in this premium SUV market. Even in this top T8 Twin Engine guise, it seems to fill in all the right boxes as to what a car - not just an SUV - can and should do. Clearly it is good looking, being a Volvo it is very safe, and the numbers tell us it’s fast, forward-thinking, and is very conservative with its fuel consumption. And at that price point, it is a very compelling package.
There's just something about cars. It's a conveyance, it's a liability, it's a tool; but it can also be a source of joy, pride, inspiration and passion. It's much like clothes versus fashion. And like the latter, the pursuit of perfection never ends.