Words: Kevin C. Limjoco – Pictures: Isabel N. Delos Reyes
I found myself doing the theatrical slow clap as I did my initial walk-around our all-new, 2nd generation 2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription test unit. “What an incredible achievement; what an outstanding design job!” I have never been so thrilled to test a Volvo. Sure, it is easy now to say, “it’s about time”! But take into perspective that the 1st generation XC90 has lived and evolved for over 13 years now and in fact still lives on in production in China as the XC90 Classic, which speaks volumes of Volvo’s engineering and technical achievements. For the rest of the world, a mainstream full-production model lifespan like that in this day and age is a rarity. I tested the last North American XC90 T6 model earlier this year and it was still a solid product even if it had fully matured already. I am confident that it would have still sold well with more aggressive pricing and with updated equipment because of its build quality, versatility, and comfort if the all-new model had not been released.
The previous model’s chassis used a joint Ford/Volvo P2 shared platform; the new model uses a completely new purely Volvo-designed and built Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform which will be the basis of the new breed of vehicles coming soon. Very much like other Ford orphans: Jaguar and Land Rover which are now enjoying unprecedented success thanks to the funding of its owner TATA, Volvo will now truly begin to reap the reward of having its new source of financial strength thanks to its owner GEELY. With the healthy funding, again much like its previous siblings, Volvo will continue to thrive and develop their products mostly independent from their parent company as long as they keep making money and share some technology!
Compared to the outgoing model, the new XC90 has a 5-inch longer wheelbase, is roughly 6 inches longer, almost 2 inches wider, and sits about a half-inch lower. So the immediate result of stepping into the 7-seater luxury crossover is a feeling of instant roominess and dramatic sophistication to the point that the two generation models should not be compared against each other anymore; they only share a name and basic configuration parameters. Mechanically, the XC90 uses the same new twincharged (turbo/supercharger) 2.0-liter engine and 8-speed automatic transmission I first experienced in the S60 T6 Drive-E a few months ago so you have a more powerful engine than the old turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 but with less torque spread over a wider powerband. The results are a more immediate and useful power delivery while gaining fuel range from the more efficient powerplant. Our test unit was two-tenths quicker from rest to 100 km/h, while being more nimble and athletic everywhere else until the speed governor intervenes, than the previous model.
The handling and braking are also excellent. Before, only the fully kitted R-Design variants could suggest a touch of sportiness. Now, especially with the optional 21” alloys, fat tires, and 4-Corner adaptive air suspension, the XC90 can actually compete directly against a BMW X5 xDrive35i although the Bimmer is still slightly quicker and naturally sportier. The XC90 will not embarrass itself anymore though, because it is swift enough to satisfy the enthusiastic pilot while rewarding everyone else with a truly plush cabin bursting with usable technology and wonderful textures. Then there is that awesome optional 19-speaker 1400-watt Bowers & Wilkins audio system that uses air-ventilated subwoofers integrated into the body, which helps create acoustics in parallel to the bespoke systems found in a Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II! Yes, the sound system is that awesome without any distortion! There are just way too many fabulous components to showcase here but I certainly have to note the massive but, thankfully, crisp and quick-reacting 9-inch central control screen ala Tesla; the exquisite textured switchgear; the 12.3-inch instrument panel that equals at the very least the systems found in a Range Rover; the gorgeous and abundant Linear Walnut Wood Inlay trim that, when combined with the fine generous Nappa Leather, creates, dare I say it, a tangible sense of occasion. The third row is actually large enough to accommodate an adult up to 5’7” but interestingly the legroom is better than a Chevy Tahoe! When the situation calls for some light off-roading, you can lift the XC90 a bit taller from the standard 9.3 inches to 10.5 inches or lower it to 7.3 inches for easier entry for the vertically challenged.
Ultimately, it will come down to packaging and pricing for a sales triumph in our domestic market. As it stands now, for the very first time since the model was born back in 2002, I would actually take the all-new Volvo XC90 T6 over a BMW X5 xDrive35i/xDrive35d, because of its overall balance of performance, design, packaging, and comfort.
Specification – 2016 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription
Location: Front, Transverse
Displacement: 1969 cc
Cylinder block: Cast Aluminum
Cylinder head: Cast Aluminum, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, Variable Valve Intake & Exhaust Timing
Fuel Injection: Direct Fuel Injection, Intercooled Twin-Charged Eaton R410 TVS Supercharger/ Borg Warner Turbo (Maximum Boost 20.3 psi), Combined Maximum Boost 17.4 psi.
Max power: 320 bhp @ 5700 rpm
Max torque: 295 lb ft @ 2200-4500 rpm
Transmission: Geartronic 8-speed Aisin Automatic, Haldex All-Wheel-Drive
Drag Coefficient: .30 cd
Front suspension: Independent unequal-length control arms, air springs, cockpit-adjustable electronically controlled Four-C Active Chassis dampers, anti-roll bar
Rear suspension: Independent 1 control arm, 1 lateral link, and a toe control link per side (transversely mounted composite leaf spring if without the 4-Corner system); air springs; cockpit adjustable electronically controlled Four-C Active Chassis dampers; anti-roll bar
Fuel Capacity: 71 liters (18.8 gallons)
L x W x H: 4950 mm x 2008 mm x 1776 mm
Wheelbase: 2984 mm
Brakes: Front 13.6” (345 mm) ventilated discs with 1-piston fixed calipers / Rear 12.6” (320 mm) ventilated discs with 1-piston red-painted aluminum floating calipers, ABS, EBD, Traction & Stability Controls
Wheels: 9J x 21” Aluminum Alloy
Tires: P275/40R21 107V Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season
Weight: (kerb) 2125 kg. (4675 lbs.)
Weight Distribution F/R: 51.7:48.3
Quarter Mile: 14.9 seconds @ 153.6 km/h (96 mph)
0-100 km/h (0-62 mph): 6.6 seconds
Braking (112 km/h-0): 179 feet (59.6 meters)
Top Speed (mph): 216 km/h (135 mph) Governed
Fuel Mileage: 20 mpg City / 25 mpg Highway
Price as tested: US$ 66,705.00
C! RATING 10/10
+A new dawn for Volvo, heavily disrupts the premium competition, outstanding design, comfort and usable technology
-Primarily price in its designated markets will determine its commercial success