The Volvo XC90 has been around for a while but recently Volvo Mzansi updated its range topping T8 and we got it on test.
It’s testament to the timeless design of Volvos that the XC90 still looks appealing +7 years after global reveal. Recently there were some design changes upfront. LED headlights come standard with Thor Hammer LED Daytime lights and these still stand out.
20inch wheels come standard on the Inscription model we had on test and these look stunning. Out at the back, the design hasn’t changed much over the years but it still stands out. Overall the design drew attention from onlookers but you do get the sense that it’s getting long in the tooth. The all electric EX90 (below) can’t come soon enough.
The interior is classy and finished in high quality materials that leave newer rivals behind.
The infotainment screen set the trend when it was launched but it now lags behind newer set ups from rivals. The functionality is still ok but when you do play around with it, you realise it could do with 1 or 2 less touches to get where you want.
The crystal like gear knob is simply superb with the cupholders placed nicely close by. The rotation start button is unique.
The multi speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system is simply the best I have experienced in a while. Its bass and clarity makes the interior of the XC90 a state theatre experience with the best philharmonic orchestra playing just for the occupants.
The 7 seat layout is still amongst the best functional interiors you can find but access to the 3rd row seating is not ideal with the middle row not folding flat to gain entry or exit.
Space at the rear seats is adequate with ample knee and shoulder room. The separate controls for the 4-Zone climate control were a boon for rear passengers especially the heated seating function. Passengers in the 3rd row did complain of not having enough air vents but none of the complaints were about space.
The T8 specification means the XC90 on test comes with a recharge plug-in hybrid that delivers 107kW of power. Combined with 233kW from the two-litre turbocharged engine, the 340kW power output and the 709Nm of torque from the two powertrains, make this car with its smooth changing 8-speed Geartronic gearbox, the most powerful XC90 ever. Battery energy has increased from 11.6kWh to 18.8kWh, now making the electric range up to 77km. We averaged 9.5l/100km with some enthusiastic driving as one easily enjoys the rapid acceleration. Driven sedately, one can easily get as little as 7l/100km. Drive is all-wheels making wet weather and gravel road driving a breeze. We wouldn’t put the XC90 at the off road market level though (who does with a +R1m car), it handles normal “pavement” obstacles with ease.
The drive is one of the areas the XC90 excels at covering trips with ease with a quiet cabin and comfort suspension. Air suspension makes our torrid roads seem like European quality as it soaks up road imperfections with aplomb. The Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge plug-in hybrid starts at R1,560,600 and carries a 5-year/100 000km Warranty and Maintenance Plan and 5-year Roadside Assistance and an 8-year/160 000km warranty on the lithium-ion battery.