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April 08, 2014
Volvo is all set to reveal the all-new XC90 at the Paris motor show in October this year. The new car will be the first car built on Volvo’s flexible SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) platform that will form the basis of all Volvos from the S60 up. Equally importantly, the new XC90 will also serve as the launch vehicle for Volvo’s new design language.

Speaking to Autocar India at a Volvo event in Beijing, Thomas Ingenlath, senior vice president design at Volvo Car Group confirmed the new XC90’s styling will be very similar to what has been seen on the Concept Coupe, Concept XC and more recently, the Concept Estate.

While the production car has not been shown yet, what’s clear is that the new XC90 will be quite angular in its silhouette. 

What will also be a marked departure from the current generation of Volvos will be styling at the front. The concept car's hammer-shaped LED daytime-running lights are all set to become a Volvo signature and even the protruding ‘floating’ grille will be seen on all Volvos of the future. Another element common to the concepts, the new XC90 and all upcoming models from the carmaker will be the distance between the wheel arch and the base of the windshield. Towards the rear, you can expect a strong shoulder line that will culminate in the tail-lights. The treatment of the tail-lights will, however, be quite different from current Volvos. A thin band of LEDs will run from the top of the rear windshield and merge with a bolder ‘C’ at the base.

There will be plenty of novel features in the cabin too. For starters, the dashboard will come dominated by a large touchscreen that Volvo claims has replaced as many as 70 buttons. The Apple-developed system will control all connectivity, navigation and entertainment options. According to the manufacturer, the system uses non-reflective glass and has been designed for use with gloves on, though voice activation is likely to be the preferred means to operate it. The diamond cut glass switches and crystal gear lever lower down on the dashboard are other elements confirmed to make it to the production model.

The new XC90 will feature motors from Volvo’s new Drive-E engine family that will power all cars on the SPA platform. Interestingly, the Drive-E engine family solely comprises a 2.0-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel motor, with each available in four states of tune. The motors use turbocharging (along with supercharging on high output versions) and have been designed for use with an electric motor to further aid power. For the record, power outputs range from 140bhp to 306bhp for the petrol engine and 120bhp to 240bhp for the diesel unit. While it remains to be seen which versions will make it to India, the XC90 headed here will come with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. You can expect the new engines to find their way into the current S60 and XC60 soon too.

Global sales for the XC90 will start in 2015 so an India launch is still some time away. As before, it will be brought into India as a CBU and will compete with the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz M-class. While India is not a very large market for the XC90 (it currently averages 150 units a year), Volvo expects the new version to bring in a lot more buyers. That’s important as the Swedish manufacturer has set itself an ambitious target of achieving 12-15 percent market share in the luxury car segment by 2020 and is confident its range of SUVs will help it do just that. The XC90 will be followed by the S80’s replacement that will be revealed in the early part of 2015.  

Nikhil Bhatia