Hell has frozen over, a pig is fluttering past my window, and the DSC light on the dash is flashing. Yes, the diesel XC90 – formerly fare game for hard-charging Smarts – now has enough beans to trouble its traction control in tight corners.
The reason for this new-found punch lies beneath the revised engine cover, the only visual difference between new and old D5s. It’s the same 2401cc five-pot, but its Garret turbocharger features a larger compressor rotor and curved vanes to improve gas flow. There are more injectors, larger combustion chambers and a standard particulate filter too. The result is 185bhp (up 23bhp) and 295lb ft of torque (up 44lb ft).
New electronic glow plugs result in a less chuntering startup, and from idle more precise injection brings a noticeable NVH reduction. It’s not in the same league as the Discovery or new Mercedes ML, but refinement is much improved.
Off-boost the D5’s small capacity still struggles with its weight, but past 1500rpm it feels lively, and much keener to rev to the 4500rpm redline. It’s also a touch more agile, the revised Haldex coupling giving more rapid transfer of drive to the rear when needed.