We travelled to the arctic reaches of Northern Sweden to put Volvo’s newest addition through its paces driving on sheet ice, deep snow-covered tracks and racing around on an ice covered frozen lake writes Geraldine Herbert
What is it? Since the introduction of the first Cross Country almost 20 years ago, Volvo has become synonymous not only with practical and safe estate cars but also with rugged all-road, all-weather versions. The latest model in the range is the V90 Cross Country and is the last in the 90 series line-up. Following in those tyre tracks the V90 Cross Country is essentially a more rugged, off-road-oriented version of Volvo’s new estate that has been designed to take compete with the likes of Audi’s A6 Allroad Quattro and the Mercedes E Class All Terrain
First impressions of the new V90CC? This pumped version of the more urban V90 gains a retuned suspension, higher ground clearance, more robust styling with skid plates down each side and the reassurance of all-wheel drive thrown in.
What about the interior? Inside, the V90 Cross Country is as beautifully built as the saloon and the sumptuous interior is intuitive and minimalist. Key to this simplicity is the easy to operate nine-inch iPad-like touchscreen. The front seats are extremely comfortable with plenty of leg and headroom. The mix of leather, wood and polished aluminium combines to make it all very luxurious. Exclusive to the V90CC is a leather-faced upholstery with unique stitching and Black walnut trim.
Engine choice? Engine choices are two 2-litre four-cylinder turbodiesels, the D4 with190bhp, the D5 coming with 235bhp. The Cross Country comes with four pre-set driving modes: Eco, Comfort, Off Road and Dynamic to allow you select the drive mode that best suits the current driving conditions as they alter the car’s steering, engine, transmission, brakes, throttle response and suspension.
Volvo V90 Cross Country on the ice? The sun was barely up when we reached the specially prepared ice-driving course located just on the outskirts of the beautiful ski town of Åre. Several V90 Cross Country models were waiting, each specially fitted with studded tyres with maximum grip on the ice. We took the wheel and first left the traction control on which resulted in an impressively composed car given the conditions. If this was to demonstrate how the car would perform in the most extreme conditions then it was very reassuring even negotiating the slalom courses but as an exercise in pure indulgence we turned the stability control off. Without much effort the V90 Cross Country were soon drifting and power sliding in circles around the frozen lake.
We also sampled the car’s seatbelt pre-tensioners that provide a pretty intense constriction reminder from time to time. Its easy to understand why a some of the world’s best rally drivers come from the Scandinavian countries and driving on the ice inspires so much confidence that after a morning of drifting I felt certain I could sign up for the next Swedish Rally.
Volvo V90 Cross Country on the road? The V90 Cross Country is a pretty impressive performer on road too. Although our studded tyres did little to emulate a driving experience in Ireland the V90 coped with everything from deep snow to brisk overtakes on icy roads. Overall it is a very likable car with good weighted steering and a beautiful smooth luxurious ride even on rough Swedish back roads.
How much? The V90 Cross Country starts from £39,785 which is about £4,000 more than the regular V90 Estate. The XC90 would certainly be one of its key competitors but while the SUV offers more space and a third-row seat the almost £9,000 extra on the price tag means Volvo has positioned it sufficiently well above the rugged estate to lure too many buyers away.
How safe? In keeping with the brand’s safety heritage all V90 models feature an impressive range of safety aids are such as City Safety, road edge detection, run-off road protection, driver alert control, lane keeping aid, active bonnet, dual stage driver and passenger airbags including driver knee airbag, side impact protection system, curtain airbags, whiplash protection system, vehicle deceleration control and traction control.
3 words to describe the Volvo V90 Cross Country? Smooth; Elegant; Practical
13th March, 2017