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Volvo's all new XC90 is much like its design team - highly intelligent, yet quietly modest.
The flagship in the Volvo range of vehicles, the XC90 is also the first mechanically independent Volvo for some time - since the brand separated from Ford Motor Company. From the ground up, this Volvo has been painstakingly designed and engineered. How do I know this? I met two of the cars design leaders at the launch. Listening to them gently yet lovingly describe each of the cars features without an ounce of ego but full of pride.
Hearing is one thing, experiencing is another. After spending a week with D5 Inscription model (R895 000), a mid-model 2.0 turbo diesel in top-of-the-range garb, I'm happy to say it's one of my favourite cars and debatably my choice of SUV within its class.
As a finalist in the 2016 South African Car of the Year I'll be waiting with baited breath to see if it wins - in my opinion it stands a sterling chance.
Designed to seat seven adults in comfort on beautiful perforated 'real' leather, the cabin wafts in its scent. Every mechanical designed feature has a truly unique feel to it. It's Swedish after all, which means things work precisely, yet they are more than just functional and mechanical but gorgeously ornamental too.
The XC90 made me a better driver: it features a smorgasbord of active and passive safety features, like a head up display system that warns you of exceeding the speed limit, being too close to the car in front of you, points out fixed speed cameras and autonomously applies the breaks if it senses a rear end collision. In addition, there is a system that keeps you within the traffic lanes - intervening with either a subtle vibration of the wheel, when you move out a lane without indicating, or an autonomous adjustment to the steering angle, to keep you in check. Together these features teach you to be the best driver you can be. It does all of its duties in the most initiative and highly intelligent manor - never patronising its driver, rather empowering him or her.
The XC90 is driven by two engines yet with a great number of engine output determined by the power of the turbo fitted to the car. These engines are both 2.0l and turbocharged. One diesel and the other petrol. All XC90 are fitted with a magnificent ZF 8-speed automatic gearbox. Although a large SUV, the XC90 features a dynamic chassis which is skewed towards a firmer ride - making it feel more agile and athletic. This doesn't mean comfort has been compromised. In fact quite the contrary - the XC90 is supremely quiet and its class-leading seats leave its driver and passengers feeling cosseted - and as a result, loved.
Prices begin at R805 000 for the D4 and top out at R1 066 000 for the twin engine T8 which use the combination of the most powerful petrol engine and a hybrid electric unit – this one is for those who enjoy speed.
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