From £36,9507
The Volvo V90 Cross Country now comes with petrol power. But does it add up financially?
20 September 2017

What is it?

Volvo has offered a rugged off-road estate car since the mid-1990s and has nearly had the market to itself. Yes, there has been the Subaru Legacy Outback, but sales of that car were hamstrung by its petrol-only range of engines for a long time, it only getting diesel options more recently.

With the onset of a backlash against cars that drink from the black pump, Volvo has gone the other way and fitted a petrol engine to its most expensive estate car, meaning it now offers greater powertrain variety than its closest rivals, the Audi A6 Allroad and the new Mercedes E-Class All-Terrain.

Quite a lot has changed since Volvo launched its first off-road estate - not just the popularity of the the full-size SUV. But the Swedish firm has managed to maintain its position in the market by offering Cross Country - badged XC - versions of the V70 estate. Its replacement, the V90 Cross Country, has a raised ride height, an off-road mode and exterior body cladding in black plastic or painted in the exterior body colour of the car for a bit more money.

Instead of the more usual diesel that is common in a car of this type, Volvo has put its highest-output 2.0 four-cylinder petrol into the most expensive V90 Cross Country you can buy. With 316bhp, the T6 is a lot faster on paper than the D5 Powerpulse, dropping the 0-62mph time to 6.3sec.


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What's it like?

All of what we’ve concluded about the diesel car still applies to this new T6. It still has a more supple ride than the V90 on which it’s based, meaning it smooths out the initial shock of sunken drain covers with aplomb and is relaxing in general. When pushed, it will roll to a greater degree, but that seems a worthwhile trade-off given the raised ride height and higher levels of comfort the Cross Country provides.

The important bit is the new engine. Much has been written about Volvo downsizing its engines; however, the main point is it now uses the same engine size for all models in the range, increasing power output through the use of different forced-induction systems. This T6 runs a supercharger for when the engine is running at low revs, with a turbo taking over at higher revs. The idea is that both systems, on their own, have limitations, but by combining the two on one engine you can mitigate them.

On the whole, it works. This engine is incredibly strong, managing to provide impressive mid-range power when you need to overtake or merge onto a motorway, but it is let down by its slow-acting eight-speed automatic. It also doesn’t feel all that mighty around town, owing to a dead spot in the initial travel of the throttle pedal. It’s something you have to get used to - otherwise, the uninitiated might try pushing the pedal a bit further down to stoke the car into action and then get a bit too much acceleration.

The diesel engine has been criticised for being grumbly from cold and under acceleration. While the petrol model is near silent at idle, it has a raspy exhaust note that's common to high-performance four-cylinder engines but a bit unbecoming of an more luxurious car.        

Should I buy one?

The T6 is an impressive engine, but once the higher fuel costs, road tax and purchase price are all taken into account it becomes hard to wholeheartedly recommend.

It offers the same amount of torque as the lower-powered diesel D4 version, but does so some 550rpm higher in the rev range. That doesn’t sound too significant, but it means that while the diesel holds onto the same gear when asked for moderate acceleration, the T6 inconveniently requires a downshift or two. When the car is loaded with passengers plus luggage, this effect is even more pronounced.

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Then there’s fuel economy. Officially this car should achieve 36.7mpg, yet we struggled to get anywhere near that, even after an extended run on the motorway. Also consider that the T6 is only available in top-spec Cross-Country Pro trim, and as such is priced above the diesel, and financially it simply doesn’t make sense.

However, look at it in context with its rivals, the Audi A6 Allroad and the Mercedes E-Class All-Terrain, and the Volvo starts to gain a bit of ground. It doesn’t have quite the same boot space of the Mercedes, but it is considerably less expensive, and it's also more modern than the Audi. For now, then, the V90 Cross-Country is the best choice in this niche category, just not with this engine - stick with the diesel. 

Max Adams

Volvo V90 T6 Cross Country Pro

Where Surrey On sale Now Price £50,555 Engine 4cyls, 1969cc, turbocharged and supercharged petrol Power 316bhp at 5700rpm Torque 295lb ft at 2200rpm Gearbox 8-speed automatic Kerb weight 1834kg Top speed 143mph 0-62mph 6.3sec Fuel economy 36.7mpg CO2 rating 176g/km Rivals Audi A6 Allroad, Mercedes E-Class All-Terrain

Join the debate


13 September 2017

A worthy contender now... looks good, classy image. Volvos are always robust and because they tend not to replace models for 20-30 years will remain looking fresh for a while, the 2003 Xc90 is still half decent lookin. What else is there if you want an estate?  there's the e-class, europes most popular taxi. The A6, which is overdue a replacement for the past 2 years and looked old when it was released back in 2012 (also most are FWD which are pathetic), and then there's the 5. BMWs Build lovely cars and their showrooms always smell great and you start to wonder 'why haven't I ever owned a BMW' but then you remember the typical make-up of the 2.0 diesel buyer. (540i different story) Everything on finance, mediocre wife. I'd actually go for the Volvo. 

20 September 2017

We had a look at one of these earlier this year. The car is really good looking with a good kit level. All was looking good until I drove it. It's not that the performance is poor, it's just that the way it delivers it isn't very nice.

It's the same with other turbocharged 4 cylinder engines, like the x30i engines in BMWs. They might get some good numbers in tests but they can't replace the experience of a 6 or 8 cylinder car.

In the end my feeling was that Volvo should have put the T8 engine in the Cross Country. However, it was the same with the Mercedes - the only option on the all terrain is a small diesel whereas the estate (at least here) has the lovely V6 of the E400. Even Subaru don't bring the 3.6 Outback to Europe any more.

20 September 2017

For a 2.0 litre 4 pot estate. Crazy price for a load lugger and, unusually for me, a diesel would be way more economical in a load lugger.

I'll say it again £50,555 for a load lugger estate mean't for high mileage that'll struggle to get high 20's mpg wise. After paying your £50+k  I believe they charge you £275.00 for power child locks, cars for less than half the price would get this essential safety aid for free!

20 September 2017

I would be interested in this engine in the regular 4WD V90 as I don't need the jacked up car. Likely?

20 September 2017

Shame Autocar didn't test the D4 AWD Cross Country at £40,605 instead of a £50k T6, which is only available in top Pro spec.

The D4 seems very competitively priced when you take into account the standard base specification of LED headlights, radar cruise, pilot assist, heated front seats, leather, folding mirrors, 8" TFT instrument cluster, sensus nav, folding mirrors and Volvo's usual suite of safety kit.  A similarly powered, performing and equipped 520d SE Xdrive or E220d 4MATIC retails for circa £45k.

20 September 2017

Yep, alot more sensible. But for a family car don't forget to get heated washer nozzle's and eletric child locks, the only way is to spend another £1,000 (linked into things you might not want)

20 September 2017
..and a 520SE Xdrive Auto Touring comes in at £41,000 (includes heated leather, heated washer nozzle's and eletric child locks) not £45K. But you don't get things radar cruise, pilot assist (whatever that is)

20 September 2017

"Yes, there has been the Subaru Legacy Outback, but sales of that car were hamstrung by its petrol-only range of engines for a long time, it only getting diesel options more recently."

...and the fact that you cannot find a Subaru dealer for love nor money.  


24 September 2017

I want to see if there is any way I can replace my discovery with one in January. Not convinced, but worth a look. I'd have to buy a tow car too, but I can live with that.

i like the idea of a petrol, but will probably go for a diesel for all the reasons above. Some half decent discounts available too.

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