The SUV the world never saw coming

After months of speculation and guessing, the wait is finally over.

Volvo has unveiled the much-awaited second generation of its successful XC90 SUV. The all-new XC90 was unveiled last week at the Paris Motor Show in France. It will, however, be launched between March and May 2015 and deliveries will hit South Africa in August 2015.

NEW XC90
NEW XC90

Thumbs-up to Chinese automaker Geely for this new SUV, which is actually the first Volvo vehicle and model to be designed by the new shareholder.

I know, some will say I love Volvos; I hate to deny this fact. I do love Volvo cars although they are not the only cars that I love.

There were mixed feelings in the global motoring industry when Geely took over Volvo from Ford Motor Corporation. And that is understandable.

Who would have imagined the Chinese taking over a European brand and actually doing better?

It is no secret that Ford wasn’t investing much in research and development of the Volvo brand. If anything, Ford killed the brand. Since the Volvo XC90 debuted in 2002, the model has been around for 12 years without any major changes in terms of design and engineering.

The Volvo XC90 was the only generation for 12 years! And this at a time other brands redesigned and re-engineered their SUVs more than three times.

I recall writing my first article on the Volvo XC90 many years ago during the days of Mr Carl Varga at their Borrowdale showroom. This is, actually, my third article in this paper on the Volvo XC90 in eight years.

Not that the Volvo XC90 is not a good brand, but, really, what was there to write about? I wrote all I could about the Volvo XC90 eight years ago.

Yeah, the all-new 2015 XC90 developed from concept to final product under Geely will prove both competition and doomsayers wrong about the direction of the Volvo brand.

If the 2015 XC90 is anything to go by, then definitely there are good times ahead for Volvo. (I am curious what Volvo’s flagship sedan — the S80 — will look like when 100 percent designed by Geely.)

There are firsts to look forward to in this new SUV.

Queue Assist is a feature to expect in this new XC90. It works when driving behind vehicles in slow-moving queues. Acceleration, braking and steering are controlled automatically.

The 2015 XC90 comes with “run-off road protection” which is a safety feature that detects when the vehicle veers off the road and the self-braking feature which allows the XC90 to automatically brake at intersections, if the driver should turn in front of an on-coming car.

This feature, I presume, will end a lot of the arguments we see at intersections.

The interior of this new SUV is all new and bears no resemblance at its predecessor.

Volvo has also introduced a two-litre, four-cylinder Drive E power train. Volvo’s strategy is to use electrification to create the most powerful versions in the new four-cylinder Drive-E engine family, taking power figures way up into V8 territory.

By the way, Volvo has stopped making V8 power trains and has replaced them with the new generation four-cylinder engines with horsepower of V8s, which will offer an outstanding combination of performance and fuel efficiency.

Imagine getting 400hp from a four-cylinder engine? Volvo has made that possible with the top of range T8 “Twin Engine” which will be a plug-in electric car, hybrid car and high-performance car rolled into one.

According to a Volvo Press release, normal driving will be conducted in the default hybrid mode.

“It uses the supercharger to fill in the bottom end of the power range to give the engine a big, naturally-aspirated feel, while the turbocharger kicks in when the airflow builds up. The electric motor on the rear wheels provides immediate torque.

“But at the push of a button the driver can switch to quiet and emission-free city driving on pure electric power where the range will be around 40 kilometres, and then, when needed, immediately revert to the combined capacity of the petrol engine and electric motor, with its combined output of around 400 horsepower and 640 Newton metres of torque.”

That’s quite some butt-kicking power from a four-cylinder if you ask me.

The last V8s they built were in the outgoing XC90 and flagship S80, and to date these are the most powerful eight-cylinders ever build by Volvo.

So much innovation by the Volvo under the Geely family. Thanks to investment in research and development by the Chinese carmaker, Volvo will also be introducing Drive-E engines across Volvo’s entire range over time.

In short, that is just some environmentally friendly technology from Volvo.

Just a word of advice: if I were you, I would shop around for Volvo’s S80’s V8, which is now out of production because soon it will be in demand. But be warned. The V8 4,4-litre petrol cars from Volvo are very thirsty and are big guzzlers, but the power in those engines is brutal and can take on any mid-size luxury sedan worth its salt with ease.

What is drive in a car without a good sound system? On this, Volvo does not disappoint. The sound system has been developed by British audio firm Bowers & Wilkins and is one of the top three audio systems in the automotive world.

The XC90 features a 1 400W amplifier, 19 Bowers & Wilkins speakers, seven tweeters, four cone woofers and an air ventilated sub-woofer.

This is an SUV for someone daring to challenge the status quo and be different.

Who said Volvo cars were meant to be priced cheaply? This all-new 2015 XC90 is the perfect car for the conservative business executive and the family man looking for a reliable and safe car.

I don’t know what you will make of Volvo’s 12 years with the first generation XC90, but I am sure that is has taken Volvo 12 years to build the SUV that the world never saw coming.

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