DRIVING IMPRESSION: Volvo XC90 T6 Momentum Geartronic

BY CHARL BOSCH - NOVEMBER 19, 2015

Not only did it cause a stir in the luxury SUV segment with its official lunch earlier this year, but it has continued to rake in numerous awards globally for its striking looks, oodles of tech gadgetry and extensive list of safety firsts.

Put simply, there appears to be no stopping the praises bestowed on the second generation Volvo XC90. One of the most hyped about vehicles of 2015, the XC90 has not only raised Volvo’s profile at the premium end of the market dramatically, but also given buyers a real and competitive alternative to offerings from Germany and England.

Sampling the XC90 in range topping D5 Inscription form three months ago, I was left completely astonished at how the Gothenburg-based firm managed to achieve so much with a minimalist yet elegant approach.

From the imposing chrome grille and those distinctive t-shaped LED daytime running lights Volvo refers to as Thor’s Hammer, to the most modern and feature rich interior on the market today, the XC90 also came in for considerable praise with its drivetrain setup.

Fitted with Volvo’s new range of 2.0-litre Drive-E engines, and mated to one of the smoothest automatic transmissions available today, the D5’s twin-turbodiesel setup somehow managed to shrug off the 2.1-tons it has to move about, by deploying a wave of power and torque as the box hooked each gear perfectly time after time.

While the vast majority of XC90’s so far sold are likely to feature the chromed D5 badge on the tailgate, the petrol powered T6 offers an interesting alternative for those seeking more power instead of low down torque.

Although our Crystal Metallic White tester turned out to be the base spec - I use this term very lightly – Momentum, the change has done little to deter from the fact that the XC90, as proved by the number of people now experiencing chronic neck spasms, lacks for nothing in the styling department.

Sacrificing a few of Inscription’s front bright work in favour of a complete black grille with chrome surrounds, the Momentum arguably strikes a more eye-catching figure, especially when teamed with those signature headlights, bulging wheel arches and (optional) black 22-inch diamond cut alloy wheels wrapped in 275/35 section Pirelli Scorpion rubber.

As mentioned before, stepping inside the XC90 is likely to leave some of its biggest detractors speechless with its simple yet smart layout. Finished in a mixture of thickly padded leather, soft plastics and lashings of aluminium, the fit-and-finish reflects the XC90’s premium (and price) aspirations in a way the previous model could only dream about.

Taking pride of place on the facia, the tablet-like Sensus infotainment system does away with the usual multitude of buttons in placing the various creature comfort and safety settings within a few swipes of the driver’s fingertips.

Continuing the tech fest, the previous analogue instrument cluster has been replaced by a 12.7-inch TFT display that houses the speedo and tachometer at either side, with the option of having the satellite navigation screen in the middle.

In addition to the latter, which forms part of the optional Premium pack, the list of kit includes a superb ventilated 19-speaker Bower & Wilkins sound system, Head-up display with road sign recognition, 360 degree view camera system, Cross traffic assist that alerts to objects behind you, keyless go/start, electric heated and cooled front seats, panoramic sunroof, Lane Departure Warning, Drowsiness detector, City Safety auto braking, Vehicle Distance Control and an industry first Run off-Road Protection, that is aimed at limiting back and spinal damage when the vehicle is about to topple over.

Like its predecessor, the XC90’s trump card continues to be is offering of seven seats where many rivals only have five. Unlike before however, the middle row can be adjusted individually while I was able to easily accommodate my 1.84-metre frame in the third row with good levels of head and knee room.

Measuring 314-litres with all seven seats up, cargo space grows to 692-litres with the third row folded down, and 1057-litres with all five down. A dual false floor is located at the base of the boot, while the electric tailgate can be opened by swiping your foot underneath the bumper or pressing a button.

Providing motivation, the T6, like the D5, comes fitted with same Drive-E engine, but drops the diesel’s twin-turbo setup for a single bowler aided by a supercharger. Primarily used to reduce lag as the turbo kicks-in above 2 000 rpm, the instant power provided by latter translates to a total output of 235 kW and 400 N.m of torque.

Kept in check by the same smooth shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox, the T6, although lacking the D5’s punch, failed to feel underpowered with the only noticeable change being the turbo surge replacing the supercharger whine.

What really impressed was the ride. Despite my initial concerns, the 22-inch rubber stood up well by providing a firm yet comfortable setup despite the unnerving worries of the potholes and broken tarmac surface.

While it was always going to play a supporting role in a segment dominated by diesel power, it is difficult to fault the petrol engine Volvo XC90 for what it is. Even in Momentum spec it remains an enticing option if standing out is what you want.

 

SPECIFICATIONS:

ENGINE LAYOUT DOHC 16v Inline 4 turbo / supercharger
DISPLACEMENT 1,969 cc
MAX POWER 235 kW @5700 rpm
MAX TORQUE 400 N.m @2200-5400 rpm
DRIVE LAYOUT Front engine; All-wheel drive
TRANSMISSION Eight-speed automatic
ACCELERATION [0-100 KM/H] 6.5 sec
TOP SPEED 230 km/h
FUEL CONSUMPTION 8.0 L/100 km
EMISSIONS 186 g/km

 

MAIN IMAGE showing Inscription trim with off-road cladding