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Old 2nd November 2015, 16:01   #1
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Default Driven: Volvo XC90

The Volvo XC90 has been launched in India at a price of between Rs. 64.90 - 77.90 lakhs (ex-Delhi).

What you'll like:

• Clean yet intimidating styling. Solid build too
• High quality, spacious interiors
• Features such as the 9" touchscreen, awesome 19-speaker sound system, child booster seat etc.
• 5 star NCAP rating & top-class safety equipment
• 267 mm of ground clearance in offroad mode!

What you won't:

Volvo badge lacks the lure & pull of its German rivals
• 4-cylinder diesel doesn't have the creaminess & outright power of 6-cylinder competition
• Manual steering adjustment at this price (seriously Volvo??)
• Volvo's tiny 15 dealer network

Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1883.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 2nd November 2015 at 16:29.
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Old 2nd November 2015, 16:01   #2
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While enthusiasts and informed customers are well aware of Volvo cars, the layman in India still associates the brand with a big B7R bus. That is due to the success of its commercial vehicle division and the late entry of the passenger car division.

Yes, Volvo has been selling cars in India, but it has not made much of an impact - partly due to boring designs (think the S80 and previous XC90), and partly due to bad dealers. When I was in the market for a car, the just launched Volvo S60 was being considered, but when we were told there was no showroom yet and were given the test drive from a Land Rover workshop, it did not leave a good impression at all.

Volvo itself is undergoing a transformation. Gone are the box like designs of the older vehicles, and Volvo has evolved from the super curvy designs of the last few years too. The upcoming Volvos make a better impression. The ethos of Volvo now includes style, technology and quality adding to what earlier would have been just safety and functionality.

Read on to know what I thought of the new XC90 in my short stint driving it.

Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1911.jpg


Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1915.jpg

This new XC90 is a huge departure from its previous iteration. While that was boxy and boring, the new SUV looks great. It is intimidating and feels two whole generations ahead. Well, it had to have felt two generations ahead considering it's taken about thirteen years to launch, which is about as much time a vehicle normally takes to change two generations.

The XC90 has been launched in two trim levels - Momentum (lower) and Inscription (higher). As of now, bookings are only open for the Inscription, and it has sold over 250 units in India, without a single person taking a test drive! The Momentum retails for Rs. 64.90 lakhs, while the Inscription is priced at Rs. 77.90 lakhs (both ex-showroom, Delhi).

For my drive, I had an Onyx Black Inscription variant with the D5 2.0L, 4-cylinder diesel engine.

The XC90 is one looker! It will certainly please most eyes. The body is very cleanly designed, with smooth lines and no quirky curves or anything of that sort. Considering it is longer than the GL, the XC90 hides its bulk very, very well. The stance is laid back, but it looks aggressive in a way that would make you want to give it way if you see it in your rear view mirror. The 'Thor Hammer' shaped daytime running lights and the big chrome grille certainly add to the aggressive front end.

The rear is simpler looking, except for the tail lights. There are two exhaust slots integrated into the bumper - one on each side. What I found surprising was that there seemed to be two tips inside these slots, on each side!

While driving the Volvo through Lonavala, it managed to get almost everyone's attention, with many people even turning around for a second look, trying to figure out what this large vehicle was. And mind you, the people of Lonavala are used to seeing Range Rovers, Q7s, Cayennes and GLs by the dozen, considering it is the Mumbaikars' favourite weekend getaway. This really does say a lot about the car's road presence.

The XC90 rides on big 20" wheels with massive 275 width tyres and a sidewall profile of 45. These big wheels really add to the looks and help in hiding the bulk to a large extent since they add to the proportions so well. The extended wheel arches compliment the wheels and do not seem too large. Still, keeping practicality in mind, a smaller rim size with taller sidewalls would be preferred for India.

It's worth noting that the headlamps, fog lamps as well as the tail lamps, all seem to be filled with only LEDs. The headlamps with that kink, the DRLs and even the individual diodes inside look stunning. The tail lamps have retained the signature Volvo shape, but they don't look as quirky as before and blend in well with the rear of the vehicle.

Chrome and other shiny finishes (which Indians love) are aplenty. From the grille to strips on the bumpers and the sides, they seem to be all over. Yet, they fit in well and do not look overdone or garish.

So, how do you tell the difference between the Inscription model you see here, and the Momentum, which is the lower end one? Well, the Momentum gets smaller 19" wheels and misses out on some of the chrome trim. Oh yeah, and the exhausts are not integrated into the bumper, but there are two proper exhaust tips, one on each side.

All in all, Volvo has managed to make this behemoth look sleek, but still aggressive in a way that it will grab your attention. Do they have their competition - the Q7 (old and new which seem to be the benchmark for the XC90), the GL and the X5 - beaten? In the looks department, I would think so.

The intimidating front with Thor Hammer DRLs:
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1856.jpg

A better view of the rear. The tail lights don't open with the boot, hence you don't see a second set of lamps lower on the bumper like in many other Euro SUVs:
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1865.jpg

My favourite angle to view the XC90. It really hides its size well from this angle:
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1855.jpg

The sides are minimalistic, while the rear has some curves with the signature tail lamp shape:
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1863.jpg

All LED headlamps:
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1873.jpg

A closer look at the grille. Thank heavens it's got brushed aluminium slats, and it's not all chrome!
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1859.jpg

Another look at the stance from the rear:
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1866.jpg

Dual tips inside the integrated exhaust on each side. For a 2.0 diesel ?
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1833.jpg

The 20" wheels. Sidewall height of 123.75 mm isn't all that low, but smaller rims + taller sidewalls would be better for India:
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1887.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 2nd November 2015 at 16:06.
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Old 2nd November 2015, 16:01   #3
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Just like the exteriors, the interiors too seem minimalistic, but definitely not in terms of materials used. Every single surface or button you touch reeks of quality. I could not find anything which felt cheap or like it did not belong at this price point.

Volvo has lost the copious amount of buttons it had all over in favour of a large Tesla-esque touch screen, and retained just 8 buttons. Apart from that, the interiors are simple and pleasing to look at.

In terms of space, the Volvo is great. The front is very spacious and wide and you probably won't be able to rub elbows with your passenger even if you tried. The seats are par excellence, just like other Volvos. No other seat I have sat on is this comfortable and it keeps your derrière cool or warm as you please - the cool function is just great for our climate.

The rear has legroom similar to the Mercedes GL. I'm 6"4' and, with the driving seat adjusted to my position, there were still about 2 inches between my knees and the front seat. The rear seats slide front and back, and recline in a cool way, where the base slides a bit forward while you recline like front-row theatre seats. One excellent feature worth mentioning is the rear center seat, whose base can be pushed up to function like a booster cushion for larger children. These seats can only warm your derrière (no cooling, which will be missed). The support offered is good and back seat users will be kept happy.

As for the last row, I didn't spend much time in it. Let's just say, it's better than the excuse of a last row which the present Audi Q7 has. It's certainly better than the X5 too, but I suspect the GL may be better in this regard. Either way, the last row is comfortable enough, but it will not make you want to sit in for a Mumbai-Goa drive. The last row folds flat into the boot floor. While it is supposed to be power-folding, in our test cars, it was manually operated.

What's worth mentioning was that the Nappa leather feels very soft - a nice change from the Germans. It may not be that durable though, considering it had a few lines and indentations after only 2 weeks of press drives.

The simple interior with a large 9" touchscreen and just 8 buttons below. Every material used feels top notch:
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1880.jpg

Superb front seats have many different adjustments from side bolstering to thigh extensions. Not to forget, they're ventilated and heated too. The support offered by these seats is excellent:
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1875.jpg

The middle row, with the 2 seats on the side made a bit like bucket seats (instead of a bench for the full row). These too offer great support and are very comfortable. Legroom is sufficient. Also note the indentations in the leather which I mentioned earlier:
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1837.jpg

A better look at the rear seats, and the center seat with its booster cushion up. This is for older children and provides them some extra support and safety:
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1838.jpg

The third row of seats is good enough for two people for a drive lasting an hour or two. Tall people will not be too comfortable here. Still, far better than the outgoing Q7's third row:
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1840.jpg

While the panoramic roof doesn't cover the 3rd row like in the GL and Q7, it is still pretty big and makes the cabin feel more open:
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1909.jpg

Luggage space is decent even with the third row up. You could probably fit 2-3 check-in size bags in there. Large cubby holes on the sides:
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1843.jpg

With the third row folded, the boot is quite large. With the second row folded as shown in this picture, you can literally put whatever you want inside:
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1828.jpg

This picture shows you all the materials used. From the (very few) plastics and aluminium to the wood and even the leather. It also proves that the leather will need to be treated with care:
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1898.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 2nd November 2015 at 16:05.
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Old 2nd November 2015, 16:01   #4
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The XC90 is very well loaded in terms of features. It's got enough equipment to keep a geek happy. Everything is power-operated...except for the steering wheel!!! This truly shocked me.

Anyway, while I try and get over that, let me move on to the rest of the tech. There is a 9" central capacitive touchscreen, which looks similar to an iPad. This controls all the functions of the vehicle from the air-conditioning to the music. Hell, it's even got a button to turn off the ESP partially. The touchscreen is called Sensus.

Sensus is also like an iPad to operate. You can use similar gestures to control it and the screen is sensitive + accurate. I did feel I had to pay more attention to use Sensus while driving and it may just take a short while to get used to. Or maybe, I guess, I'm just used to BMW's iDrive from my X3.

The home screen details the air-conditioning settings at the bottom and comes with different tabs for the navigation, entertainment, sound settings and phone above. Selecting any of the tabs makes them "full screen" and you can go further into their menus. The one button below the screen takes you to the main menu (do note the music is not of my choice ):
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1807.jpg

Here is another screen showing various car functions which can be controlled. Most buttons clearly show what they do. Lane change warning and road sign information didn't work simply because we have no road signs and no lanes! Expect these to work in very few places.

Also shown are 'park in' and 'park out' assistants, which help with getting in and out of tight spots. The XC90 can park itself in spaces that are just 1.2 times its length.

There is a headrest fold button, which makes the second row headrests flip behind, so that rear visibility is improved. They do not come back up automatically though:

The 'adjust passenger seat function' allows the driver to adjust the passenger seat - neat!
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1808.jpg

A view of the nice and clear reversing camera. I was hoping for multiple cameras giving an all-round view:
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1809.jpg

The XC90 comes with a head-up display which provides speed, entertainment, telephone and navigation information. It is similar to the one in BMWs, and is also a full colour unit. A cool and useful feature to have:
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1852.jpg

Volvo seats have always been awesome. Like I mentioned before, these too are top class. A multitude of adjustments are available. While the normal front and rear movements, height adjustment and recline functions are operated by the simple controls on the side, there is also another rotary kind of control which brings up a menu on the screen. This can be used for adjusting the lumbar support, side bolsters etc.
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1848.jpg

Rear passengers get their own little touch panel to control the air-conditioning and seat heating. Touch panel feels very premium. These can be controlled from the front screen as well, and so can the third row air-conditioning (though that is a simple on and off control):
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1879.jpg

This little switch in the boot lowers the rear suspension by 50 mm, so that access to the boot is easier. It's not a new feature in this segment, but is always nice to have. I would expect the switches to fold the rear seats somewhere around here too (our car had manually folding rear seats, but customer cars *might* have them electric):
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1846.jpg

Another feature, which is now available in other Volvos too, is the LCD instrument cluster. It is surprisingly nice to have. Doesn't seem to change its display according to the driving modes automatically, but here are two pictures of the different modes:
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1850.jpg
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1851.jpg

And now, on to the bit that I enjoyed using the most in this SUV - the Bowers & Wilkins sound system. It's better than some of the Bang & Olufsens, Meridians and Burmesters that are available in other premium vehicles today. The sound is crisp, and my non-audiophile ears enjoyed every kind of music played through the 19 speakers! It also uses some technology wherein the full cabin acts like a subwoofer box! This, along with the ventilated seats, is enough to push you toward the higher variant!
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1853.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 2nd November 2015 at 16:05.
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Old 2nd November 2015, 16:01   #5
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Volvos have been known for their safety and the XC90 is no different. It comes with a slew of safety features designed to keep occupants protected in the case of a mishap. Equally, let me add that safety is no longer a USP of Volvo only. Its competitors from Mercedes, BMW & Audi are also equally safe SUVs.

So what makes this XC90 safe? One of the things is the extensive use of Boron steel (high strength steel) in the car's chassis. Apart from this, the XC90 is loaded with safety features like multiple airbags, traction control, stability control, seatbelts with pre-tensioners and so on. There is also a new feature in the XC90 called run-off road protection, where there is a spring built into the lower part of the seat to protect your spinal cord if the vehicle goes off the road at high speeds.

There is also a tyre pressure monitoring system and automatic high beam for the headlights (note: I didn't get a chance to check the functionality of this). Also present are road sign information and lane detection systems, which are pretty much useless in India.

In reference to the radar-based system, here is the response from Volvo India:

1. Does the XC90 come with city safety and automatic braking in India?

City Safety in the XC90 is radar based and hence it is deactivated.

2. Are the radar-based safety features built in and just deactivated? What will be the course of action, now that the government has de-licensed low frequencies for automobile manufacturers to use?

Next step is we will apply for permission to use our radar which falls within the de-licensed frequency. The front radar is fitted in the car but deactivated. It is early for us to tell what features will be activated post permission is secured.

Last edited by GTO : 7th November 2015 at 15:33. Reason: Adding Volvo's response to our safety queries
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Old 2nd November 2015, 16:01   #6
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Engine & Drive

Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1913.jpg

Most people would be interested in knowing how the XC90 is, with just a 2.0L, 4-cylinder diesel engine under the hood. With 225 BHP and 470 Nm of torque, it is quite powerful for a 2.0 engine, but it's also got around 2,100 kgs to lug around!

Let's just say it was not what I thought it was going to be. The XC90 doesn't feel under-powered in any way while driving normally. Thanks to the twin-turbo setup, the engine does its job well and without any fuss. The big SUV accelerates quickly enough and is certainly no slouch. Regular folk will find the real-world performance to be more than acceptable. Enthusiasts, however, will miss that thunderous torque of a 6-cylinder diesel (X5 = 560 Nm, GLE = 620 Nm). When you spend 80 - 90 lakhs on the road, you obviously expect something more. On the fast expressway, the engine feels more strained than a 6-cylinder motor would, especially over 100 kph. No, it's not that you can hear much of the engine inside, it's acceptably refined, but it's just that you have to push harder to get the same performance you would get effortlessly from a 6-cylinder. As an example, in the X5 3.0 diesel, merely tap the throttle and the SUV lunges ahead. In the XC90, it'll need a downshift to give you what the X5 does without. With in-gear acceleration, again, sufficient power is there, but the gearbox has to do its work, always shifting and staying in the meat of the power band. In summary, the 2.0 diesel performs well (better than I expected), but it is not as magical as the 6-cylinders of the competition. While performance is acceptable (not extra-ordinary) below a 100 kph, it's 6-cylinder rivals will leave it in the dust on the open road.

The engine note cannot be heard much until you go over 3,500 rpm, and even when things get audible, it will sound like a refined thrum to most people. Enthusiasts will know it's a 4-cylinder though - the motor lacks that creamy nature of a 6-cylinder diesel. For chauffeur driven use, this engine will be enough, not disappointing in the refinement factor in anyway.

Volvo has used an Aisin 8-speed gearbox unlike many other manufacturers who seem to be sticking to the ZF transmission. The gearbox is paired nicely with the engine and performs in harmony. That said, it's not the quickest of shifters and is slower than the ZF. Still, the Aisin is better than the lazy Mercedes 7G-Tronic. Shifts are very smooth and cannot be felt. Also, the gearbox doesn't hunt for gears too often and seems to be programmed well.

Ride, Handling, Steering and Braking

The suspension does a competent job, considering this SUV rides on 20" wheels. To get the best experience, be sure to engage 'comfort' mode on bad roads and 'dynamic' mode on the expressway.

The place where the drives took place was around Pavna Lake (near Lonavala). About half of the roads here are totally unpaved and very bumpy with lots of stones. The rest of the roads were single lane with bumpy patches. I did also go through Lonavala which has semi-decent roads and had a jaunt on the expressway. In comfort mode, small and medium bumps are dismissed noiselessly and you cannot feel a thing either. On the other hand, larger bumps definitely come through to the cabin - no escaping that wheel size. You will feel the harshness of big potholes. At speed, imperfections on the road are not noticed and the ride is very flat. It's definitely more comfortable and silent than the Q7 on its optional 20" rims. In comfort mode, the ride quality is better than the X5 on its stock wheels + RFTs too. However, the Mercedes GL-Class is superior.

In dynamic mode, the handling is sorted considering the size of the XC90. It cornered nicely through the curvy roads of Aamby Valley and I did have the confidence to push it on turns. Considering it's available with a close-to-400 BHP petrol engine hybrid abroad, I suspect the XC90 doesn't reach its limits with this 2.0 diesel. Traction was good. While understeer was there, it wasn't excessive.

Steering feel is mediocre. It's not super light like an Audi's, but is definitely not up there with a Bimmer. The steering is accurate though and weighs up nicely with speed.

In terms of braking, this Volvo is spot on. The brakes have good bite & feel and can slow the SUV down from high speeds easily. Even then, when a cow suddenly decided to wander into the XC90's path, I had to slam on the brakes - it was here that I felt some sponginess in the pedal and had to press harder to make the car stop (which it then did easily).

The XC90 should be able to handle mild offroading. With 267 mm (off-road mode) of ground clearance and lots of electronic nannies to help the 4x4 system, it should be capable of handling slush, sand & muck. Like most others in the class, this isn't a Prado / Landcruiser level offroader though.

This li'l diamond knurled roller (below the start/stop knob) alters the behaviour of the XC90 completely. It allows users to change between the different driving modes on the fly:
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1798.jpg

These are the different modes which pop up on the screen:
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1849.jpg

Let me now explain how these modes alter everything.

Eco: Provides the best fuel economy and the least pollution. It dulls throttle response, makes the gearbox shift up early, lowers the air-conditioner's cooling and provides gearbox coasting above 60 kph. Makes the XC90 seriously boring to drive. I doubt people are going to spend 80 lakhs on an SUV and then select Eco mode.

Comfort: This is the everyday mode that the Volvo will be used in. Suspension settings are optimised for comfort. Throttle response is good and the gearbox too concentrates on shifting smoothly.

Off-Road: The air suspension is raised by 40 mm, throttle response is again dulled and the gearbox stays in the same gear a lot longer than normal. This only works till about 40 kph after which, it shifts back to comfort mode.

Dynamic: The air suspension is lowered by 20 mm and the dampers are stiffened noticeably. Surprisingly, even the idle speed goes up by 200-300 rpm. The steering weighs up as well. Throttle response is much sharper and the vehicle does feel lighter.

Individual: In this mode, you can customize various settings to your liking (such as steering feel, throttle response, suspension stiffness...).

Shown here is the ride height in off-road mode:
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1868.jpg

Comfort mode with the default ride height:
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1869.jpg

Dynamic mode with the ride height lowered by 20 mm:
Driven: Volvo XC90-dsc_1870.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 2nd November 2015 at 16:03.
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Old 2nd November 2015, 16:01   #7
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Other Points:

• In the Inscription variant, the key comes wrapped in the same leather as the upholstery.

• There is a key available as an accessory which limits the vehicle speed to 120 kph, apart from other things - may be a good idea to buy and give it to the chauffeur to use.

• LED headlights seemed supremely powerful.

• Navigation maps are very much 2D and don't look anywhere as good as the present BMW maps or even the Audi maps.

• The central screen manages to catch a serious amount of fingerprints during use. These are always visible.

• The windshield washers are built into the wiper arms like in the new Mercedes S-Class - very, very nice to use!

• Detection sensor for a key with low battery is in the center cupholders, which is quite different from most vehicles which have it on the steering column. When the key's batteries are low, it will have to be held there for the vehicle to detect it and allow the engine to start.

• Engine start/stop knob has a twist action, unlike the normal push button of most cars.

Disclaimer: Volvo invited Team-BHP for the XC90 test-drive. They covered all the travel expenses for this driving event.

Last edited by GTO : 2nd November 2015 at 16:02.
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Old 2nd November 2015, 16:24   #8
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Default Re: Driven: Volvo XC90

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Test-Drives Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 2nd November 2015, 16:45   #9
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Default Re: Driven: Volvo XC90

Crisp Review there Akshay

Really love the XC 90 for its looks & the pricing specially because its a CBU.

IMO the momentum variant makes great sense as the 19" wheels are more practical & few features missing here & there wont really matter comparing to the $$$ saved vs buying the top end model.

Also i know that no 6 cyl at this price point is a joke, But just look at the specs of the 4 cyl i.e 225 hp, 470 nm, its really powerful. Few years back the V6s made this kind of torque.

Shall surely hope to see more of Volvo's on the roads & they achieve the volume & recognition they deserve in the Indian market
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Old 2nd November 2015, 16:52   #10
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Default Re: Driven: Volvo XC90

That was a fantastic review!! Rated 5 stars!!

This car should be the game changer for Volvo in India. I will not be surprised if I spot large number of the new XC90 on the roads, as this generation model had got what the last generation model lacked, Intimidating street credibility.
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Old 2nd November 2015, 17:51   #11
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Default Re: Driven: Volvo XC90

This is one breath-taking model! Having interned in Volvo as part of my college curriculum, I can notice numerous changes when compared to it's preceding model. As mentioned above, in a layman's language a 2.0 litre 4 cylinder SUV does sound like a joke.

For some reason, I find this to be the new-Endeavor's big brother!
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Old 2nd November 2015, 17:58   #12
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Default Re: Driven: Volvo XC90

Fantastic Review. That is one handsome looking SUV. Would love to see more of these on our roads.
Volvo's new design language is quite a refreshing change especially compared to the old XC90.

It is sad that our public is more worried about the snob value of a badge over the actual qualities of a vehicle. Cars like Volvo's own V40 are stunning to look at and have all the toys that the competing BMWs, Mercs and Audis have, yet you come across one very rarely.
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Old 2nd November 2015, 19:09   #13
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Default Re: Driven: Volvo XC90

Awesome review mate, Read it twice already! Love this car, Looks absolutely stunning! I just hope it sells enough in India though, Its a rare sight to see a volvo in india.
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Old 2nd November 2015, 19:28   #14
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Default Re: Driven: Volvo XC90

Its got a look similar to the Touareg especially from the front side view. Are people ready to buy these since you dont know what and how long the support could be given the meager sales?
I would enjoy to drive it but could never buy something with limited sales.
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Old 2nd November 2015, 20:14   #15
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Default Re: Driven: Volvo XC90

Great review ! The only flaw I see is the motor, but then again thats a personal preference.

Wish they at least offer the twin charged 4 cylinder petrol here as an option in this diesel crazy market. It pumps out 320hp and 400Nm. Wont be greedy and wish for the higher performing petrol hybrid (407 hp & 400Nm) !!!

Have they hinted they might be launching the twin charged petrol variant here ? Maybe as an "R Design" ?
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