Volvo’s new second-generation Volvo XC90 SUV goes on sale in Australia today, featuring new safety features that will stop you from turning across oncoming traffic and radar systems that can detect whether you’re about to be rear-ended or even steer the vehicle in slow moving traffic, using a combination of radar and cameras.
At launch the new XC90 will be available in 3 models – the D5 AWD with a 165kW 470Nm 4-cylinder twin turbo-charged diesel engine (5.7l/100km or the T6 AWD with a 235kW 400Nm 4-cylinder supercharged and turbocharged petrol engine. Also available is the range-topping T8 AWD, which features Volvo’s ‘Twin Engine’ plug-in hybrid powertrain, which sees the T6’s twin-charged petrol engine teamed with a 60kW electric motor, to producing a combined 295kW of power and 640Nm of torque, giving the XC90 a real kick in the pants. All that power allows the T8 to complete the 0-100km/h sprint in just 5.9 seconds, whilst maintaining a fuel economy figure of just 2.6L/100km and a 40km range in pure electric mode on a full charge.
The XC90’s interior is the most luxurious to have been designed for a Volvo. The most striking feature is a tablet-like touch screen control console, which forms the heart of an all-new in-car control system. This system is virtually button free, a simplicity that opens up generous surfaces and gives us the opportunity to create a modern, luxurious interior architecture.
The all-new XC90 interior combines materials such as finest Nappa leather and wood with handcrafted details, including a gear lever made of crystal glass from Orrefors, the famous Swedish glassmaker, and diamond-cut controls for the start/stop button and volume control.
Aside from the now commonplace “city stop” technology to prevent rear-end collisions in slow moving traffic, sensors in the XC90 will also slam on the brakes if they detect you’re about to turn in front of an oncoming car – making it first vehicle in the world that is able to prevent that type of accident. The same sensors can detect when you’ve run off the road and it will tighten the seatbelts moments before the vehicle’s air bags are deployed.
The new Volvo XC90 is cyclist friendly too, spotting both them and pedestrians at night, and also has the ability to follow the speed limit at the press of a button on the iPad-style screen in the dash.
Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? The downside to all this new technology is the XC90 is not quite as cheap as it was before – now costing between $90,000 and $125,000. Volvo insists that the new XC90 is a critical step to the gradual automation of the automobile, and inevitably this technology will become cheaper and filter down into entry level vehicles.
While the XC90 can avoid accidents with other vehicles, cyclists or pedestrians, the same is not true for kangaroos and the multitude of other animals we see along the side of our roads – but they’re working on it. Volvo engineers have visited Australia over the past two years to gather data and film the roadside behaviour of kangaroos so they can be part of Volvo’s animal detection system to be introduced in the coming years.
“As we have discovered, kangaroos are really unpredictable and difficult to avoid, but we don’t think it’s impossible,” says Volvo safety expert Martin Magnusson.
“Kangaroos are smaller than the other animals we are trying to detect and their behaviour is more erratic, but we are working on it very intensively.”