So I better explained. It’s a seven-seat executive car, I went on, explaining how Volvos have exceptional seats (the driver’s one being electrically adjustable) and a terrific driving position, and that the XC90 in particular has in its centre console a cool new touchscreen that is as easy to flick around as a smartphone’s screen. Then there are the safety features, I said, of which it has loads. It’s comfortable, posh and practical, but at the same time it’ll tow things and go through a field if you want it to.
All of which is true. The XC90 is one of those do-anything vehicles, the sort of thing that would migrate to near the top of the list if someone said you could have just one car.
Even in its base Momentum form, the Volvo comes well specified. There is leather trim, that touchscreen infotainment system as standard, including navigation, and a fine stereo. There is also cruise control and an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Volvo won’t offer anything bigger than a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, be it petrol or, as here, diesel, so that’s what this XC90 gets, badged D5. Air springs are optional (£2150) and fitted to this test car, as is ‘Drive Mode select’ (£395), which I’d have thought should come free with the springs, but can stiffen them up while sharpening the gearbox’s responses and adding weight to the steering. Other options fitted to this XC90 include an all-round camera to supplement the standard reversing camera (£700), 20in diamond-cut alloys (£1000) and sensors that look out for traffic if you’re reversing out of a parking space and also look into your blind spots and try to mitigate rear-end collisions (£500). Topping it off is a Winter Pack of heated seats, windscreen, washer nozzles and steering wheel, at £575.
Truth be told, only the Winter Pack makes this car feel any more plush than it would do as standard. All of the things that feel luxurious about the XC90’s interior are fitted as standard anyway: the leather seats, the touchscreen, the all-digital dash whose look can be changed via an options menu.
Ah, yes, digital things. The XC90 has a lot of those. It gets keyless go, while the heated seats and radio and so on are all controlled via the touchscreen. And I’ll be honest: they don’t work flawlessly. The XC90 is one of those cars that involves ‘ensembles’ when displaying digital radio stations, the passenger’s heated seat frequently switches off automatically after only a few seconds, and on about one journey in five the XC90 ‘loses’ the key and thinks it’s no longer in the vehicle.
Pity, because its functions mostly work brilliantly. The XC90 has automatic headlights including auto high beam, and they aim, dip or dim just a section of the lights with impeccable skill. The stereo sounds fabulous and the heated windscreen unfreezes in seconds. The XC is a fantastic winter car.