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ajmat 15th September 2017 09:58

Driven: Volvo V90 Cross Country
1 Attachment(s)
The Volvo V90 Cross Country is on sale in India at a price of Rs. 60 lakhs (ex-Delhi).

What you will like:

• Eye-catching and rugged, yet looks elegant
• Brilliant, best in class interiors
• Well equipped with 4-zone climate control, massage seats, 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system
• Balanced and secure handling
• High level of safety
• Strong, punchy performance

What you won't:

• 20" wheels and low profile tyres compromise rough road ability
• Low speed ride is knobbly on rutted roads
• Autobox is slow, indecisive during press-on driving
• Engine is slightly noisy under acceleration
• Boy racers might find the relaxed nature of the car underwhelming
• Sparse dealer network

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ajmat 15th September 2017 09:58

13 Attachment(s)

Volvo was the leading manufacturer of prestige estate cars until Mercedes-Benz came along with the T123, T124 and subsequent E-Class estates. Additionally, the advent of SUVs and crossovers did its bit in shrinking what was essentially, Volvo's cash cow. However, Volvo continued to maintain its presence in the estate car category with the smaller V60 model. With the V90, Volvo is re-entering the higher estate car segment. The V90 has met with success in leisure oriented markets like Scandinavia and Europe.

The V90 is based on the SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) platform and is similar to the S90, but has a slightly higher roofline. A lot of commonality exists with the XC90 with respect to the underbody components and even the dashboard.

Here are a couple of pictures of the V90 captured at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show:
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Before Volvo started producing SUVs, its first foray into four-wheel drives was with the XC70. This was one of the last traditional Volvo cars before the company was sold to Ford. The XC70 was a crossover. Its only rival at the time was the Audi Allroad. These were durable cars. I remember Volvo Trucks India had one, which was driven aggressively for nearly 4 years to Hoskote and back and survived.

Attachment 1655582

Image source: Parkers

The introduction of the XC90 saw the XC prefix reserved only for SUVs. The Cross Country moniker was introduced specifically for the crossover variants of non-SUVs. The prefix denoted raised ride height and in the case of the V40, some extra body cladding. The V60 and the recent S60 are equipped with four-wheel drive as well. In fact, in India, the S60 Cross Country now outsells the other S60 variants. Volvo wants to position the V90 Cross Country as more of an SUV as opposed to a mere crossover estate due to its abilities. The only vehicle sold in India that was close to this concept was the Fiat Adventure.

Volvo acknowledges that estate cars like the Fiat Adventure, Skoda Octavia Combi and Opel Corsa Swing never sold well in India. Some possible reasons were that the active leisure market had not opened up at that time. When the time came, the growing SUV market stunted the growth of this segment. As the company knows that the regular V90 will never sell well in India, it has decided to bring only the Cross Country version of the car here.

Raised stance and rugged-looking bumper distinguishes the Cross Country from the normal variant. LED headlights have auto-bending technology and high-pressure washers. Thor's Hammer daytime running lights are bright and prominent, even under sunlight:
Attachment 1654823

Rear features high mounted LED tail-lamps with pronounced shoulders - a traditional Volvo design hallmark. Except for the badges, there is no use of chrome anywhere:
Attachment 1654824

Black cladding on the sides and around the larger wheel arches complete the transformation from estate to crossover. The black protective cladding is also available in the car's body colour, but this option will not be available in India. Volvo thinks that this could lead people to mistake it for a regular V90:
Attachment 1654825

Front grille has a chrome border and vertical black slats with 5 chrome studs each. Large Volvo badge sits in the middle:
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Rugged-looking front bumper with black inserts and silver skid plate give the Cross Country a beefier appearance than the regular V90. Fog lamps are placed at the ends of the bumper. Parking sensors have been provided:
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20" 10-spoke diamond cut alloy wheels shod with 245/45 section Pirelli P Zero tyres. They look great, but are a questionable choice if one plans to do some serious off-roading. 19" wheels are available as a no cost option:
Attachment 1654830

LED tail-lamps are split with the reversing lamps housed on the tailgate:
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Rear bumper gets a thick, black insert and a silver skid plate below. Dual exhaust pipes appear well integrated into the skid plate. Like the front, parking sensors have been provided:
Attachment 1655580

Black insert on the rear bumper has "Cross Country" lettering inscribed on it:
Attachment 1654828

Ground clearance of 210 mm is sufficient to see the V90 Cross Country clear most obstacles:
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ajmat 15th September 2017 09:58

25 Attachment(s)
Interior - Front

Attachment 1654847

The interiors are almost identical to the S90 and the XC90. The Chinese influence on Volvo means avoiding variation wherever possible. Click here for more details.

However, there are some differences and we will focus on those.

The striking feature is the black and amber (read tan) interiors as opposed to the Inscription variant's all-white leather interiors. These look smart and are considered more practical than the white leather. The Cross Country comes with a choice of amber, black charcoal and brown maroon leather seats coupled with a black interior. Volvo is using market intelligence to offer specific body colours / interior combinations. The only exceptions are the black and white cars, which offer the option of all three. If you want a specific combination, prepare to wait for a period of 3 months!

The dashboard has woven aluminium trim instead of the walnut trim offered in the S90. This provides some contrast to the black interiors. Volvo is considering the walnut trim veneers as a dealer option:
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The seats are draped in amber Nappa leather upholstery and provide some relief from the dark interiors. Even the headlining is black. Seat positioning is not as commanding as a traditional SUV. It is similar to an Innova's:
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Silver insert breaks the monotony of the dashboard:
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A closer look at the passenger side of the dashboard:
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Leather-wrapped steering wheel is not white like the S90's unit and less of a grime magnet:
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It is also heated - you have a choice of three levels of heat as well as the bum warmers and ventilated seats:
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One can preset the heating levels and avoid suffering frostbite while searching for the controls. This is a useless feature in India, but useful in colder countries:
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Paddle shifters are a welcome addition:
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Doorpads sport black and amber leather and silver inserts. Door handle is finished in chrome. Door pockets are deep, but fitting big water bottles in them is likely to pose a challenge:
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The standard Bowers & Wilkins system with 19 speakers is awesome:
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Among the best seats in the business - 6 hours of driving and not a single ache:
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Front seats have massage function. You can focus on your lumbar...
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...or on your shoulders:
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You can control the speed and intensity as well:
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I love this choice. You can have a firm rub up and down your back or...
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...have various pressure points addressed at the same time:
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The wide center console looks very art-deco in this application. Unlike Mercedes or Audi, the operational controls (engine start/stop, drive mode, parking brake and auto hold) are on the right side and are easier to reach for quick selection:
Attachment 1654850

The aluminium panel slides back to reveal cupholders:
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The transmission selector is identical to the S90's. It has 4 positions - P, R, N and D in addition to a parallel gate for Tip-Tronic selection:
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ajmat 15th September 2017 09:58

16 Attachment(s)
In-Car Entertainment

The interiors of all SFA-based Volvo cars are dominated by a large central display for the infotainment system. The V90 Cross Country comes with a 9-inch touchscreen unit. It takes a while to understand the system as there are many functions incorporated into it. Some of these were covered in the S90 review. On this occasion, I discovered more as I had much more time on hand.

The normal running display:
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Navigation in the middle of nowhere. Try looking for Taj Madikeri in the navigation system or on Google Maps and you'll end up nowhere:
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Driver side heating settings:
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Climate control settings:
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Audio optimisation settings:
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Swipe the screen sideways and you get a series of sub-menus:
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Swipe down for more...
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...and more. Some of us might need a teenager to help set up the car...
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...especially as the instruction manual only works when the car is stationary:
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You can alter the driver instrumentation themes and brightness of the central display:
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In case the TFT is not bright enough, here is the other ("bright") option:
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As for the driver instrumentation themes, here is the instrument cluster showing the performance theme,...
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...minimalistic theme and...
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...silver rings theme:
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Click the thumbpad on the right spoke of the steering wheel for the information mode between the instruments:
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One useful feature of the parking sensors is that at low speeds, you are aware of cyclists, people, etc. in your blind spots:
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ajmat 15th September 2017 09:58

20 Attachment(s)
Interior - Rear

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There is no doubt that a lot of V90s will be chauffeur-driven. Ingress is a big improvement over the S90 as the roofline is higher and not sloping. Once seated, there is plenty of room. As in the S90, the seats lack under-thigh support. A dominant transmission tunnel fouls the middle seat leg room (the black carpet hides this in the picture):
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The rear doorpads are similar to the front. The rear window does not roll down completely:
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Handy pull-up sunshades:
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Rear door console:
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Rear knee room is fairly generous despite the driver's seat being set up for a 6 footer:
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A booster seat for a child is integrated on both outer seats:
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Center armrest comes complete with flip-out cupholders. They do squeak when loaded with bottles:
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Armrest incorporates a shallow storage compartment with a lid and a small tray for a smartphone. There are no USB ports for the rear seat passengers to use - a glaring omission!
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Two-zone climate control system at the rear with...
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...air-conditioner vents mounted on the B-pillars:
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The boot is the business end of the V90 and makes is a versatile car. It can be converted from a luxury passenger vehicle to a full-blown workhorse. The boot with the rear seats in place is well shaped and has 560 liters of space. The sill and floor are flush, which means that luggage can be slid in with ease:
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A tonneau cover retracts each time the boot is opened:
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The rear seats fold forward, but involves the following steps -
1. Remove the tonneau cover mechanism by merely press two spring loaded buttons and lift (weighs a bit though)
2. Remove the rear sunshade mechanism / dog guard

Then you need to figure out where to store them or leave them at home. Skoda has been clever with the Kodiaq in this matter. It has created a storage recess for the cover mechanism within the boot floor:
Attachment 1655539

Press a button to fold the rear seatbacks,...
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...which are split in 60:40 ratio...
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...and voila! You have 1,536 liters of space. Only the Mercedes E-Class and the Skoda Superb estates have more space:
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Under the boot floor is the the spare wheel cover:
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Lifting the cover reveals a T125/80 R18 space saver:
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Load up and hit the switch on the tailgate to close it:
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The V90 comes with the "virtual pedal" to open the rear. It took a bit of learning before we could operate it. Other testers were trying to swing their feet underneath at random. After a lot of trial & error and some Gangnam style dancing, we managed to make it work. Here is how you can use it -
1. Go towards the left side of the rear
2. Extend your foot under the bumper in a stabbing motion
3. "Open Sesame!"

ajmat 15th September 2017 09:58

2 Attachment(s)
Driving the 2.0L Diesel

In India, the V90 Cross Country comes with Volvo's D5 engine. This 1,969cc diesel unit pumps out 232 BHP and 480 Nm of torque. The D4 that powers the S90 produces has the same displacement, but produces 187 BHP and 400 Nm of torque.

2.0L D5 diesel engine develops 232 BHP and 480 Nm of torque:
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The D5 engine comes with a larger turbocharger compared to the D4. As you know, larger turbos suffer from greater turbo lag. To tackle this problem, some manufacturers like BMW use twin turbochargers, Audi (in the SQ7) uses a 48V electric supercharger to boost the charge. Volvo uses a simple method called the Twin-Charge. The engine uses compressed air, stored in a pressurised tank to provide boost to the turbocharger. The pressure tank is constantly topped up by an engine-driven pump so that boost is always available on demand.

Here is a video on how it works:

So how does it drive?

Like the S90 D4, the engine is a little clattery on start-up, but smoothens out on reaching its optimum operating temperature. The Twin-Charge does its job albeit in a very undramatic manner. There is no perceptible lag and you feel the power at your beck and call. Unlike the Mercedes diesels, where the maximum torque is available low down, the Volvo's torque surges in a little above 2,000 rpm. Power and torque delivery is not as linear as the BMW diesels. The engine is tuned more for a relaxed, yet rapid progress. While the D4 is more than capable enough, if one wants a more "press-on" style, it must be the D5! Refinement levels are excellent, although the engine gets a little thrummy when worked.

The V90 Cross Country comes with four driving modes - Eco, Comfort, Dynamic and Off-road.

Eco - The engine stop/start system is activated and the car's responses are lethargic. Stomp on the pedal, yawn and the car makes some progress - give this mode to your driver.

Comfort - A significant improvement over the Eco mode. I would use this mode around town and on bad roads. The suspension is more compliant and the steering is fairly light. However, show it a fast winding road and it gets roly-poly and pitches - even with the air-suspension!

Dynamic - The steering weighs up and the suspension stiffens. This makes the low speed ride a bit knobbly. However, on the fast sweeping bends between Coorg and Madikere, the car could corner hard in a very secure manner. The steering response is precise and well weighted. As with most electric power steering systems, the feedback is poor, but it was not as woolly as say an Audi. The Dynamic mode is my favourite among the four driving modes on offer.

Off-road - This mode only works at speeds up to 40 km/h. It couples comfort mode with permanent drive to the rear wheels, which is otherwise, merely on demand. I used this mode only on a muddy track.

The engine is mated to an 8-speed Aisin automatic transmission. Gear changes are smooth and imperceptible. However, when pushed hard or under acceleration, the gearbox dithers. It cannot decide when to downshift and acts a bit dim-witted. When you accelerate mid-corner, by the time it downshifts, you are already exiting the corner. The point of downshifting in the first place, is nullified. The paddle shifters are the saving grace here. Normally, in non-sporting cars, paddle shifters are used very occasionally. On the Volvo, I found them a necessity. If the paddle shifters were not there, I don't think I would have liked the V90 half as much. Even in dynamic mode, the gear changes are not violent.

One thing about the Volvo is that it is far from intimidating to drive. Yes, the rear windshield is in another town, but the car is easy to place. Normally, we share cars on press drives. So, if you have a doubt, your co-driver will help you figure things out. On this drive, I had the car all to myself. The first task was to pilot it out of Mangalore. The sat-nav was easy to set. My prior S90 experience helped me in setting up the seat. I twisted that starter knob and was off. It was quite easy guiding the car through the unfamiliar traffic, but Mangalore's rutted roads coupled with the low speed traffic meant that my posterior got a pounding, the 20" wheels were transmitting every variation on the road surface all the way up to my cranium. On the outskirts of Mangalore, I stopped and spent time setting up the seat and massage modes, as well as the music.

Fortunately, there was very little traffic and I could make good progress. Press the accelerator and the speed builds up before you know it. It is like releasing a genie from that Twin-Charge compressed air bottle. There's no drama or surge - the power merely appears like a genie. The combination of the paddle shifters and the dynamic mode makes the V90 extremely capable. The added rear-wheel drive means that the cornering is extremely secure and I never got anywhere near the limit of the car's handling, even on wet roads. Overtaking slower vehicles is a breeze. The available power in the mid-range makes it quite easy to dispatch slower traffic. If you read the road ahead well and progressively apply the right inputs, you will find that the V90 is an excellent mile-muncher. The only disconcerting issue is the pilot assist lane change warning system, which causes the steering to vibrate each time you cross a road marking.

One or two nanny systems keep popping up and the head-up display keeps flashing warnings if the necessary distance to other objects is not maintained. This happens a lot while approaching slow moving vehicles or awaiting an opportunity to overtake. This can be adjusted though. Another warning (which rarely pops up) is the collision warning. The system flashes red warning signs on the windscreen warning you of a crash situation. This happens when the car in front suddenly stops and you stop close behind it. This can be avoided by braking hard instead of gradually.

Compared to a BMW, the Volvo falls short on reactive driving. In keeping with its relaxed nature, it has some body roll and the steering response is a tad slow in relation to a 5-Series or even the E-Class. Again, remember, this is a cruiser and not a touring car championship winner. As mentioned earlier, while the steering is precise, it lacks an eager turn in response. However, it isn't reluctant to turn in either.

The brakes make this car unflappable. They are well weighted and strong. Approach a corner at high speed and brake late - the speed is wiped out rapidly and you get enough feedback. The pedal feel is spot on. On the drive, I did not experience any brake fade. But again, I was far from any race track!

What makes and sometimes breaks this car, are the 45 profile tyres. While these tyres are very effective during high speed handling and cornering, they wear out much faster and replacing them is expensive. Additionally, when you consider that that this is a four-wheel drive system, you need to ensure that the tread differences need to be less than 2 mm across all wheels, otherwise it can confuse the various sensors and increase mechanical wear and tear due to inaccurate inputs.

With the low profile tyres, the low speed ride is pretty knobbly and the tyres are vulnerable during off-roading. Although the Volvo PR folks claimed that the car was a capable off-roader, I did not dare to try any adventures (especially given my record in tyre busting). That said, we did drive on some muddy tracks in four-wheel drive mode and the car was unflappable.

This was the result. Needless to say, the PR team had its work cut out upon receiving the car. Some other hacks actually tried off-roading and got hopelessly stuck. The tyres were definitely not suitable for the terrain and lost traction. They spent time placing stones under the wheels to get going again:
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As we approached the hotel in Madikere, we bore the brunt of the monsoon, wet roads and mud tracks. This is where the Volvo was really at home. It kept us nice and warm, insulated from the elements and kept going on - no matter what the obstacle. While the V90 Cross Country is not a pure off-roader, it can take on most rough roads. It's a great car for getting away from the beaten path, but not off the beaten path!

ajmat 15th September 2017 09:59

10 Attachment(s)
The Smaller yet Significant Things

The key matches the seat upholstery:
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Boot floor is supported by a strut:
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Retractable hooks to secure your luggage in place. Nice!
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Chrome strip prevents scratches on the bumper when sliding your bags in or out of the boot:
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Spare wheel cover has neat recesses for storing wheel nuts while performing the odd wheel change:
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Plenty of curry hooks to hang bags:
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Side windows are laminated. This is claimed to make them safer and more efficient in reducing external noise:
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Rear headrests collapse automatically while folding the seat forward. They can also be collapsed by a flick of a switch to improve rearward visibility during reversing:
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There is a provision to put a divider behind the rear seats if carrying long loads:
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Spare wheel is an 18" steel space saver shod with 125/80 section rubber. It is small and skinny and leaves a massive gap in the wheel well:
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Disclaimer: Volvo invited Team-BHP for the V90 Cross Country test-drive. They covered all the travel expenses for this driving event.

Aditya 15th September 2017 10:24

Re: Driven: Volvo V90 Cross Country
Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Test-Drives Section. Thanks for sharing!

mjumrani 15th September 2017 11:10

Re: Driven: Volvo V90 Cross Country
Great review ajmat. Did you test the pilot assist?

I saw the V90 while taking delivery of my XC90. It's as long as my XC90 with massive interior space and costs 20L less than XC90. Opening the XC90 boot via the sensor under the boot is still a dance for me, it looks same in this as well. XC90 Inscription doesn't get paddle shifters :Frustrati. Folding rear seats via button is sorely missed in my XC90.

Volvo India is doing a great job by bringing their entire line up to India and pricing very competitively. Cars sold here have much better equipment as standard than the ones sold elsewhere in the world.

My XC90 resets lumbar setting everytime seat memory is selected and it's an issue with all Volvo cars. Does this happen in V90 as well?

reignofchaos 15th September 2017 11:30

Re: Driven: Volvo V90 Cross Country
Great review! Did this car come equipped with Pilot Assist? If so, did you manage to try it out?

androdev 15th September 2017 11:51

Re: Driven: Volvo V90 Cross Country
Fantastic review and looks like the weather and the roads were just right for the drive!

The Volvos are looking so good these days, they have surely surpassed the Germans in the looks department. Not much love for estates in our country, so not sure how this car will do in the market.

abhishek46 15th September 2017 11:51

Re: Driven: Volvo V90 Cross Country
Great Review!
This is one the few cars, where the Station Wagon equivalent looks as good/slightly better than it's Sedan equivalent., thanks to the Off Road Bits.

On a side note, in view of recent bad experiences reported by a few Volvo buyers on TBHP, I feel that the dealerships part of the Cons section could be modified to state the same.

ashwin1224 15th September 2017 11:56

Re: Driven: Volvo V90 Cross Country
Imo, massage/heated seats should have been optional, either in the front or the back. Majority of these cars will be chauffeured so makes no sense to give them in the front as standard. Also does the rear seat recline back? This was a major concern while my fayher bought his luxury SUV a few years back. None of the flagships had this feature while Innova and Xylo had them since forever.

speedguy 15th September 2017 13:07

Re: Driven: Volvo V90 Cross Country
Great review. Rated 5 stars.
However I didn't like the tail lamp design. Looks like a 'Ganapati' Decoration IMHO
And predictably nobody would question this so called 'outdated' design which Tata cars got bashing all the time.
V is better than T in logo I guess stupid:

abhishek46 15th September 2017 14:53

Re: Driven: Volvo V90 Cross Country

Originally Posted by speedguy (Post 4270536)
Great review. Rated 5 stars.
However I didn't like the tail lamp design. Looks like a 'Ganapati' Decoration IMHO
And predictably nobody would question this so called 'outdated' design which Tata cars got bashing all the time.
V is better than T in logo I guess stupid:

Well, design is always a matter of personal taste.

In my opinion, Those tail lamps & headlamps are the best part of the overall design.
They look stylish in the day, and jaw-dropping in the night.

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