This mega-test took quite a bit of doing. As you can imagine, assembling all these machines in one place is quite a task. And so, after a long day at the track, ideally you want to drive home in something comfortable. Something serene.
So, it should come as no surprise that there was a fight for the keys of the XC90 every evening. It was simply the most comfortable car of the lot. The seats are thrones that Napoleon would have invaded Sweden for. The cabin quality is like nothing we’ve seen from a non-German manufacturer in a long time. In fact, with that massive vertical touch-screen in the centre, it’s a fresh and minimalistic take on a car interior the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time. It’s also one of the many signs that indicates the fact that Volvo is back to its best.
Other signs that indicate this is the fact that Volvo spent 11 billion dollars developing this brand new architecture, which is completely scalable and will underpin various new models from Volvo. The 2.0-litre petrol engine range produces up to 400 horsepower in T8 Hybrid trim. The 2.0-litre diesel engine, meanwhile – the one we have here – is a reworked version of the already impressive D5 diesel. In this trim, it produces over 220 horses and 470Nm of torque – which is plenty. But more than the absolute power – which isn’t quite a match for the BMW 3.0 litre straight-six diesel it has to be said – it’s the refinement that’s truly impressive. From behind the wheel, it simply doesn’t feel like a four-pot. In fact, it doesn’t even feel like a diesel. And the lap-time, as you can see, is pretty impressive.
But comfort and performance are all very well, I would write a cheque for the XC90 purely for how it looks and how the stereo sounds. The design – inside and out – is typically Scandinavian, but it’s also aggressive and imposing at the same time. It’s got Thor’s hammer leading the way for Christ’s sake! The sound system – in the top-of-the-line Inscription variant – is a Bowers and Wilkins unit that takes your listening pleasure to a whole new level. It’s 12-channel, 1,400 watts of amplification, and air ventilated sub, all work to create the most incredible sound that you’ve ever experienced. And the beautiful stainless steel speaker grilles scattered around the cabin don’t hurt either.
At the end of the day, it’s safe to say that we all absolutely loved the XC90 to bits, and are very happy to see Volvo back on form. The only trouble with the car is the price tag, and the brand perception in India. The price is actually competitive when compared with the competition, but the Volvo badge doesn’t quite have the cache in India of a three-pointed star or the four rings from Ingolstadt. But, on product alone, the XC90 is a breath of fresh air. Actually it’s more like a gust of wind that’s likely to startle the German luxury carmakers.