VSCast your eyes at a sultry, all-encompassing large luxury SUV, and there’s, quite honestly, no shortage of options in the Indian market. Audi, Mercedes, BMW and even Jaguar Land Rover all have at least a few options to tempt you. However, there is one that goes unnoticed. And it’s a little baffling, really, why it’s not built into your list of potential candidates from the get-go. Volvos have always been impressive enough, but the XC90 in particular is a fat-packed luxury SUV that promises a lot and delivers on most counts, all in very typical Volvo fashion.
And that typical Volvo manner is evident from the moment you first lay eyes on it. Near-perfect proportions, like those of the XC90, are a bit of a rarity these days. It’s the sad truth that supports experimentation and exploring the limits of what’s acceptable in terms of design, but automakers will do anything to stand out these days. By comparison, the XC90 is a breath of fresh air. It’s grand in every sense of the word, but it rarely makes you feel like it’s comedically done. The supporting acts that accentuate the design – the headlights, taillights, grille and alloy wheels – all point to a harmonious culmination of designers working at their peak. If I had to put it in a more subtle way, the XC90 wraps the word “non-offensive” all the way to the hilt.
Just swing open one of the four doors to notice that this philosophy also extends to the cabin. While everything here is sleek, minimalist and built with luxury in mind, some would probably think the XC90’s cabin is a bit underwhelming. For the amount you’re paying, some would expect a show-and-tell of exquisite detail, rare materials and, possibly, bespoke inclusions as well. But there is none of that. It’s just not what Volvo envisioned for the XC90 buyer, and it shows. A simple and beautiful dashboard, a vertically mounted touchscreen, a big steering wheel and a decently sized digital instrument panel. It is about being underestimated, after all. I don’t see a problem with that. The XC90 isn’t looking to be in the good books of those looking to make a statement. Rather, it is about serving those who have nothing left to prove. I would go so far as to say that this is perhaps an even stronger statement to make.
But let’s get back to it: the seats are exceptionally comfortable and the second row laughs at cars that claim to offer exceptional legroom. Boot space? There’s a cavernous amount to exploit with the third row of seats folded down. Every aspect of the XC90’s cabin has a single goal: to be as comfortable as humanly possible, and it achieves that goal with remarkable ease. And to support that theory, there’s four-zone climate control, heated, cooled and massaging seats, a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, emergency brake assist, blind spot detection, a descent control and a 360 degree camera, to name just a few of the features on board.
And that brings me to what drives the XC90. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to float to your destination? To be so isolated from the rest of the world that it would not be excluded to think of oneself in a silo? A mobile, noise-canceling silo that shuts out the irregularities of the world while you focus on a nap or settle into a bit of meditation? The engineers and designers of the XC90 obviously thought it prudent to pass that exact feeling on to you, because that’s precisely what you get with the XC90. Now, of course, it’s worth pointing out that a good number of manufacturers deliver that sort of cocooned environment in their cars, and the XC90 isn’t quite reinventing the wheel in that respect, but it’s also true that it does it in a very dignified way that is unique to Volvos. While the general feeling for cars from other manufacturers in this segment is to brag and shout from the rooftops about the magnitude of the achievements you have personally had, the XC90 gives you the feeling that the silence and the opulence are yours and yours alone to enjoy, without having to impress anyone.
And that’s abundantly seen with the B6 petrol engine running under the hood. It’s quiet, refined, capable and just powerful enough to make for the easiest experience. The ride supports that feeling, too, and Volvo engineers have done a good job of tuning to ensure that any bumps and imperfections in the road are dealt with only with a muted grunt of disapproval. Very little bothers the XC90, you see?
Push hard and it obliges, of course, but you are constantly reminded of the fact that this is not what was intended. At 300bhp and 420Nm, it’s not meant to burn up the drag strip, and it’s hardly meant to take you to gasping places. But if you try to push the engine hard, you’ll barely notice it thanks to excellent sound dampening and a more than capable 8-speed automatic gearbox that will keep up with your demands. Keep in mind this is an SUV that weighs over 2 tons, and that’s immediately impressive.
It is true that its rivals may have a bit more in terms of modern and sophisticated equipment, and more design in your face to win you over, but it is also fair to call this luxury SUV one of the forms of transport the most powerful ones around for the most distinguished lot. At Rs 1.09 crore (on-road, Mumbai), the XC90 might not quite fit the affordable tag, but for the money there’s very little that can match it.
Volvo XC90 B6
Power: 300 hp
Transmission: 8-speed, automatic
Dimensions: LxWxH (in mm): 4,950 x 2,008 x 1,776
Price: Rs 1.09 crore (on-road, Mumbai)
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