Here, it’s down by a cylinder and almost half a litre of capacity, yet it still has the kind of power, performance, fuel economy and emissions claims to enable it to compete with the best in the field. The new 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel’s 222bhp is above average for the sector, in which about 200bhp is the norm. And it’s enough to give the Volvo a 0-60mph time of 8.3sec in our hands.
It has been a while since we obtained a set of performance figures for a four-cylinder direct rival for the XC90, but in 2012 the Mercedes-Benz ML 250 Bluetec needed 8.8sec to cover the same benchmark, even though it made more torque than the Volvo’s 347lb ft.
You can probably assume that the work of Volvo’s body engineers is coming to the fore here. The XC90 tipped our scales at a respectable 2076kg – more than the 2009kg claim but well below the Mercedes’ 2350kg and half a tonne less than a full-fat Land Rover Discovery.
That relative leanness means the Volvo is one of the most alert cars in the class in response to the throttle. It will accelerate from 30-70mph through the gears in only 8.3sec. The ML takes more than a second longer.
That performance, though, is slightly at odds with the feel you get from the gearbox. Mostly, the XC90’s eight-speed automatic is an easy thing to get along with: you stick it in ‘D’ and leave it at that.