The all-new seven-seat Volvo XC90 will go on sale next year priced from £45,785, and is predicted to outgun rivals such as the Audi Q7, BMW X5, Land Rover Discovery and Mercedes M-Class through a combination of its luxury, spacious interior, engine efficiency and ground-breaking safety technology.
Its arrival is also significant because it marks the acceleration of Volvo’s plans to overhaul its range of cars. Bought by Chinese firm Geely in 2008, the firm has spent £6.5 billion creating a new high-tech structure to underpin all its future vehicles. As such, the XC90 is seen as a showcase for future Volvo design, quality and styling. 'We are not just launching a car, but relaunching our brand,' said Volvo president Hakan Samuelsson.
The new XC90’s arrival also marks the end of production for the long-standing previous-generation car, which has been on sale since 2002 but which has consistently attracted buyers through a combination of keen pricing and its spacious interior. In the run down to it going off sale, current discounts of 25% off list price can only get better.
R-Design specification confirmed
Volvo has confirmed details of the new R-Design trim that is due to go onto the new XC90. R-Design is the sportiest of the three trim levels on offer. It adds cosmetic features as well as driving-focused options to the already generous standard specification.
On the outside, R-Design models get their own metal surrounds to the windows, front spoiler and grille. They’ll also come with silver roof rails, matt silver wing mirrors and 20-inch alloy wheels.
Inside, buyers will find sports seats (clad in leather and suede), R-Design pedals and gearbox paddles on the steering wheel. Other features include illuminated door sills and a unique R-Design theme to the instrument cluster.
There will also be another trim level at the top of the XC90's range, called Inscription. Details of the Inscription trim are yet to be released, however, it is expected to be the most luxurious of the three offered.
Volvo XC90: the 100mpg seven-seater
The new XC90 will be offered with several powertrains, including a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid that will be capable of returning in excess of 100mpg - officially at least.
The range-topping 394bhp hybrid – badged T8 ‘Twin Engine’ – uses a supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine to power the front wheels, while a 79bhp electric motor propels the rears. Six engine modes allow the driver to choose how to power the car. These range from pure electric to full hybrid power, plus special off-road settings.
Using only the electric motor, the seven-seat XC90 T8 will travel around 25 miles on a single charge. Official combined CO2 emissions have been confirmed as 'being around 60g/km', which means fuel economy of around 109mpg. Pricing for the XC90 T8 is expected to start from around £60,000.
Volvo will also offer two diesel engines in the new car – both four-cylinder units that will be badged D4 and D5. The latter produces 222bhp and 347lb ft of torque, and is available with four-wheel drive only, with estimated economy of around 47mpg. Entry-level cars get the 187bhp D4 with 295lb ft of torque, are front-drive only and will achieve up to 56mpg.
The D5 engine will be mated to an eight-speed auto gearbox, with D4 buyers getting the choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or the auto.
Volvo UK has also added the petrol-powered T6 variant of its new XC90 to the model range. Since orders for the seven-seat SUV opened in October, Volvo UK has been surprised by the number of customer enquiries for petrol-powered versions. The T6 is equipped with a 316bhp, 295lb ft version of the new 2.0-litre, four-cylinder Drive-E engine, which is both supercharged and turbocharged. Pricing has yet to be confirmed.
All engines will be offered with a choice of three trim levels: Momentum, which replaces SE in the traditional Volvo UK line-up, R Design, which carries on as before and Inscription, which replaces SE Lux and Executive. In time, all UK Volvo models will follow this pattern. Standard equipment across the range includes sat-nav, cruise control, rain sensors, LEDs, climate control and leather interior trim. Consequently, Momentum is expected to account for the bulk of sales.
Why XC90 is the safest Volvo ever
Volvo has always been well-known for safety, but the company has made the bold statement that the new XC90 will be the safest model it has ever made.
This claim is underlined by two new pieces of technology. One system brakes the car automatically if it is about to turn in front of an oncoming car at a junction. The other detects an impending accident and automatically tightens the seatbelts to hold passengers more firmly in place.
Other safety features in the new XC90 include updated automatic braking systems from today’s Volvos. These detect cars, cyclists and pedestrians in front of the car and automatically apply the brakes if a potential collision is detected.
Other highlights include Queue Assist, which automatically follows the car in front in slow-moving traffic, and a digital display that relays information from road signs to the dashboard in front of the driver.
The XC90 also has 12 ultrasonic sensors positioned around the car which enable the car to park itself in both a parallel space and a perpendicular parking bay.
XC90 cabin details
The XC90 will also have a much more luxurious cabin than the old version, with an iPad-style touch-screen taking centre stage on the dashboard.
This screen will control almost all of the in-car functions, allowing for a remarkably clear cabin. Only a row of buttons below the screen are visible; they control the hazard lights, screen demister, the audio volume and the glovebox release.
Elsewhere in the cabin, Volvo promises the XC90 will come with more legroom in all three rows, thanks to a new design of seat that is both slimmer and more comfortable than before. It says the third-row seats are spacious enough for two people up to 170cm tall.
Buyers will also have the option of air suspension for around £2000, which can be set to five comfort settings.
Read our full verdict on the XC90's cabin
XC90 on sale dates and prices
A limited edition of 1927 cars will kick-off sales of the new XC90 in an online sale from September 3. Called the Volvo XC90 First Edition, the quantity of 1927 celebrates the year Volvo was created. UK buyers will be able to buy a D5-engined car with every possible option specified, plus 21-inch alloys and a unique interior design for £68,785.
Mainstream sales will then follow with the launch of the XC90 D5 AWD model, with list prices starting from £45,785. From early October customer orders will be taken, ahead of projected first deliveries next March.
Although Volvo has traditionally discounted the XC90 by as much as 30%, it hopes to end this policy with the new car. The UK production allocation is expected to fall below demand for at least 12 months after launch. However, we’d still expect modest discounts of around 5% to be available six to eight months after launch.
Read about the rivals the Volvo XC90 has to beat
Read more about Volvo's plans to sell the XC90 via the internet