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Volvo V90 Cross Country: Should you consider it over other luxury sedans or SUVs

Volvo’s latest offering is a blend of SUV practicality and S90-beating levels of comfort.

business Updated: Jul 15, 2017 17:54 IST
Rishaad Mody
The Volvo V90 is a strongman-suit clad version of the V90, the estate sibling to the impressive S90 sedan.
The Volvo V90 is a strongman-suit clad version of the V90, the estate sibling to the impressive S90 sedan. (Autocar)

Volvo has found considerable success with its Cross Country models in India. First, there was the V40 Cross Country that continues to move decent numbers. Then, the company brought in the rugged S60 Cross Country sedan, which, it turns out, massively outsells its traditional sibling. The next luxury crossover from the Swedish carmaker will come in the form of the V90 Cross Country. It’s a strongman-suit clad version of the V90, the estate sibling to the impressive S90 sedan. But should you consider it over typical luxury sedans or SUVs?

You’ll find that the face, and much of the body up to the rear doors, is near-identical to the S90. From thereon, however, the V90’s rear culminates in a sleek rear section, much unlike estates. Volvo’s signature tail-lamp cluster adds to the Cross Country’s handsome looks. For the luxury crossover, Volvo has toughened the design with some mild bumper cladding while standard 20-inch wheels fill out the large wheel arches nicely. Volvo has even raised the car by 60mm, giving it an SUV-rivalling 210mm of ground clearance. All-wheel drive is standard and, like the S90, there’s adaptive air suspension at the rear. The estate shape has not done well in India so far, but the V90 Cross Country presents one of the prettiest ones to have hit our roads.

The cabin, based on the S90 sedan, features the same minimalist dashboard with a large 9.0-inch touchscreen that controls most of the air con and infotainment settings. The V90 Cross Country, however, trades the veneer inserts on the dash and doors of the S90 for lovely aluminium panels.

The front seats are similar to the S90’s – heated and superbly supportive, and with electric adjust for the bolsters, lumbar support and extendable squabs. But the V90 takes it a step further with a cooling function and an enjoyable massage feature. There’s also a heated steering wheel. The rear seats in comparison are comfortable but on the firm side and come with none of the adjustability of the front. But, the new roofline means better headroom behind than the S90. Thigh support, however, is low and extendable squabs would have helped. Space at the back is good for two, but the large transmission tunnel eats into the middle passenger’s legroom.

What you will never complain about is storage space – the wagon has an impressive 560 litres of wide and flat boot space. Should the need arise, the rear seats can be dropped to increase that number to 1,526 litres, enough for all your kitchen sinks. Recessed under the boot is a space saver spare tyre.

There’s just one fully loaded variant which comes with all the bells and every last whistle. The equipment list includes a panoramic sunroof, a sensational 19 speakers, 1,400W Bowers and Wilkins sound system, an electric tailgate, a heads-up display, four-zone climate control, full-LED headlights and paddle shifters for the automatic gearbox.

Power comes from a 235hp, 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine that is a significantly stronger unit than the 190hp motor found in the S90 sedan. It is smooth, refined, and dishes out power in a linear fashion. Power builds till just over 4,000rpm, after which the engine starts to get quite noisy.

This motor benefits from Volvo’s PowerPulse technology that helps keep the engine responsive even at low revs. The system works quite well, but put your foot down at low revs, especially on inclines, and you still feel the pause before the engine starts to pull convincingly.

The eight-speed gearbox offers smooth and near-seamless shifts in normal driving conditions, but is a bit slow to downshift when driven aggressively. There is no Sport mode either, so the best solution for spirited driving is to use manual mode through the paddle shifters. There are four driving modes – Eco, Comfort, Off-road and Dynamic. Eco dulls engine response a bit and slightly softens the steering. Comfort finds a middle ground while Dynamic offers heavier steering and sharper engine response. Dynamic also firms up the suspension a bit, but the overall differences between the modes are subtle.

The V90 Cross Country can even do a fair bit of off roading. Driving it up some broken muddy tracks through a coffee estate, the car impressed. Engaging Off-road mode sends more power to the rear wheels, and effects a small rise in ground clearance and engages hill-descent control.

Ground clearance is sufficient to deal with fairly deeply rutted tracks, and the all-wheel drive works quite nicely at pulling the car up steep tracks. In fact, the overall off-road ability is comparable with something like an Audi Q5.

The handling mannerism meets Volvo’s new ‘relaxed confidence’ approach well. While rivals focus on a sportier experience, Volvo aims more at comfort, confidence and capability. Even in Dynamic mode, the V90 Cross Country wallows and sways a bit. However, the grip levels are quite impressive, thanks to the sticky Pirelli P Zero tyres that the car comes with. But given the large wheel and rather low profile, durability of the tyres on poor roads might be an issue.

In all, the car offers brisk and capable performance, but it’s not particularly sporty or engaging. However, ride quality is excellent and it’s only the deeper potholes that cause a thud if met with speed.

The V90 Cross Country will go on sale shortly and is expected to cost Rs 60-65 lakh (ex-showroom). What it has over the S90 sedan is a more powerful engine, additional equipment, and the ability to handle the worst that our roads can offer. Safety is given full priority, of course, with a raft of features which includes radar-assisted systems like Pilot Assist, Lane Keeping Aid (only works on clearly marked roads) and Front Collision Mitigation Support. There’s also a parking assist, adaptive cruise control, hill-start assist and hill-descent control.

The V90 Cross Country opens a new niche in the market and Volvo isn’t sure if it will attract more sedan buyers or SUV buyers. It will more likely be the former as the V90 Cross Country doesn’t offer the commanding presence that SUV buyers love. Either way, if you’re considering a car or an SUV at this price point, this Volvo deserves your consideration.

Estimated Price: Rs 60-65 Lakh (Ex-Showroom)

Engine: 4 Cylinder, 1969cc, Turbo-Diesel

Power: 235hp @4000rpm

Torque: 480Nm @1750-2250rpm

Gearbox: 8 Speed Automatic