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The Volvo XC90 first appeared in 2002 and it has a substantial following and in the USA it is described as a mid size SUV, however in this part of the world, we would employ the word large. The impressive seven-seat luxury SUV establishes new standards for design elegance, intuitive technology, practicality, comfort and safety. Now in its second-generation, it is a significant vehicle for Volvo, being the first model launched as part of the company’s comprehensive renewal of its model range, pioneering the use of the SPA platform and exclusively using Volvo’s own Drive-E powertrains.

Looking at design, it is minimalist inside and out, with a cabin rich in high-quality natural materials and its advanced technologies include Volvo’s Sensus media system with its intuitive nine-inch touchscreen control, giving quick access to multiple vehicle functions and seamless connectivity. I must admit there is so much contained in this system, that it took me quite a while to major the main functions, but once mastered it all falls easily to hand. The XC90 is also a standard-bearer for the latest evolution of Volvo’s industry-leading safety technologies, including world-first innovations to prevent collisions from happening, addressing a wide range of common accident scenarios. Volvo is renowned for its focus on all round safety and I can bear testimony to that as on a press launch myself and co-driver collided with a large truck. I was in the passenger seat and the crash opened my side of the car like a tin opener. Thankfully I emerged unscathed and my colleague was stunned but no injury. That day I owed a lot to Volvo and its safety systems. The driving experience is so relaxed, and every model in the range is equipped with all-wheel drive for secure performance on all surfaces and in all conditions. The powertrain choice includes Volvo’s efficient and powerful Recharge Plug-in Hybrid T8 petrol-electric plug-in hybrid (as tested) as well as mild-hybrid petrol and diesel units that achieve an excellent balance of performance, fuel economy. Let’s be honest most drivers yearn for decent economy and with the large XC90 there are no disappointments in this respect.

Powering the Recharge Plug-in Hybrid T8 a 303bhp petrol engine and a 87bhp electric moto, so no worries when it comes to power and performance, this generous SUV can sprint from rest to 62mph in a mere 5.8 seconds, now that is impressive in my book. Emissions are from as low as 63g/km and quoting official figures up to 100.9mpg. The plug-in hybrid technology allows for short journeys around thirty miles, emissions-free on electric power alone, while recharging the high-voltage 11.6kWh battery can be accomplished in about two and a half hours using a fast charge cable. I must admit rather than a complete electric powered vehicle, I would opt for this plug-in option. My main reason is that there is no fear of range anxiety. That is when you gaze at the instruments in a pure EV and worry sets in, as a result a drive far from being relaxing. Even with all the seats in use, the luggage compartment offers 262 litres in the model tested; extend the load area further, the second- and third-row seats can all be folded individually to deliver a maximum 1,816 litres. One minor irritation, in the cabin I was surprised to discover the lack of storage, by that I mean insufficient space in the various containers and many might disagree with me and say that the more space you have, the more clutter! I was not surprised to discover the high level of standard equipment, however there always seems to be more available and with a number of options were added to this test vehicle; the final cost – £75,075. (From €82.420 in R.O.I.)

Ian Lynas

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