Volvo’s new XC90 kick starts new era for Swedish brand after $11bn investment

After 11 years and $11bn investment Volvo introduces new tech and design for the brand’s future models with its latest SUV

Tue, Aug 26, 2014, 14:00

After 11 years – and an $11 billion investment – Volvo is showcasing its future with the second generation Volvo XC90. Yes, you read that right: $11 billion will have been spent between 2011 and 2015. Clearly its new Chinese owner, Geely, is serious about its Swedish purchase.

Volvo’s chief executive, Håkan Samuelsson spelled out the significance of the new SUV to the firm. “This is one of the most important days in our history. We are not just launching a car, but relaunching our brand. This day marks a new era for our company. The XC90 paves the way for a portfolio of exciting new cars to come in the following years.”

It’s fitting that the new dawn begins with a model that best exemplifies the Swedish family car maker’s desire to be regarded as a fully-fledged premium player.

The XC90 is the Volvo that most easily faces off against premium rivals like the BMW X5, Audi Q7, Land Rover Discovery and even the Range Rover Sport. And for its strong US market and burgeoning Chinese one, success in the SUV segment will be a firm base upon which to pitch future models.

The new car is built on Volvo’s new SPA platform, which will underpin future large cars from the firm, ranging from the next generation S60 saloon right through to the larger XC models and potentially a new coupe, which may take the moniker of C90. By 2019 all the Volvo range will have been updated as part of Geely’s investment in the brand. But right now a lot rides on the XC90. As Geely owner Li Shufu said to the Wall Street Journal recently, if the XC90 doesn’t become a hit, “it will be very painful”.

Swedish understatement marries Chinese bling

Three engines will be offered, starting with a 190bhp four-cylinder diesel with front wheel drive, then the D5 225bhp diesel with all-wheel drive. A petrol plug-in hybrid version – with emissions as low as 60g/km – will also feature in the line-up. All models are fitted with Volvo’s eight-speed Geartronic automatic transmission. Emissions for the D5 all-wheel-drive version are likely to be close to 150g/km, with the lower powered front-wheel-drive coming in lower again.

Due in Ireland next spring, it will have seven seats as standard along with satnav and 19-inch alloys . The exterior is much cleaner than the outgoing model, with distinctive LED lights at the front and a strong, clearly identifiable, front grille. Inside it remains a spacious seven-seater with three proper seats – individually adjustable – in the middle row. The third row can easily cope with two adults while there is still luggage space available even when all three rows are in use. Volvo accepts that most buyers don’t need the third row that much, but like to have them there as a back-up. Similarly with the all-wheel-drive system. Most of the time they don’t need the off-road capability, but they like the comfort of knowing it’s there.

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