What is it?
Unfortunately for Volvo, it’s a perfect illustration of how fast class standards improve at the premium end of the car market: it’s the latest Volvo XC90.
This car has been given a the mildest of late-life refreshes for 2011. There’s a little bit of extra chrome on the radiator grille, some more widely colour-coded bumpers, some new watch-style instruments inside, and a new ECU for the car’s 2.4-litre five-pot diesel engine which liberates an extra 15bhp and 15lb ft of torque, as well as allowing for EURO V exhaust emissions compliance.
Otherwise, this is the same practical, slightly retiring SUV that we’re already well familiar with – which is both good and bad news.
What’s it like?
197bhp and 310lb ft is just enough to motivate this two-tonner. Dig deep and this Volvo will move along at a reasonable enough pace, but it’s still more sedate than the latest premium diesel 4x4s. More important, however, is that the XC90’s six-speed automatic gearbox, engine and four-wheel drive system have been reconfigured for quicker response from a standstill – so, unlike the original car, it doesn’t seem to take such an eon to pull away at a roundabout.
Volvo has done little to boost the XC90’s rolling and mechanical refinement, however. Compared to younger rivals, the car’s chassis seems clunky and crude. It crashes even over relatively minor bumps, and although wind noise is minimal, the car’s engine isolation seems poor: there’s just too much thrash from that five-pot powerplant that finds its way into the cabin.