Saturday, August 19, 2017
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European change for local publican

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t’s been a long time coming for the new XC90 and Volvo has been making a lot of noise about it for some time – and why not?

Because Duncan and Ebbett Tauranga sales executive John Hancock told Bay Driver: “It’s an exciting new addition to our range with harmonious design, pure uncluttered luxury, with advanced safety and comfort for all seven passengers”. Arriving on the scene just a few years ago, Volvo’s XC90 has enjoyed sitting nicely between the large prestige SUV segment and more mainstream SUV models. With seven seats, a reputation for safety, handsome looks and a European badge it has sold very well as a result. The second-generation car, however, has found itself thrust right into the heart of the prestige battle – giving its German counterparts are real run for their money.

Busy schedule

Choosing who to test drive this exciting new car was a bit of a challenge. We needed someone with a taste for luxury but who’d also make the most of the versatility offered by such a well-designed SUV. Who would have thought my local publican Matt Hayward would fit the bill? After a few cold ones on my way home last Thursday I ran into Matt, who as it turns out has been looking to get out of his Japanese-manufactured double cab ute and into an SUV. “I haven’t really thought about the brand yet,” said Matt. “But I’m keen to look at something European for a change. I just want something that looks the part that I can still use for work but also take the wife and kids away in relative comfort.” With a diary that would run most people ragged, Matt leads a pretty full-on lifestyle. His Mount Maunganui-based craft beer bar Mt Brewing Company is open seven days a week and Matt is constantly on the road picking up supplies. During school holidays, he and his wife Kimberly and their two girls are either off snowboarding at Ruapehu or driving down to their old stomping ground Queenstown. And during his spare time Matt is competing throughout the country for the Carbon Works rally team in his almighty RX3. With such a cross-section of interests, Matt not only needs an understanding wife, he also needs very reliable and versatile vehicle and he quickly found the XC90 fitted the bill rather nicely.

Scandinavian simplicity

Initially, the XC90 starts at about the $100,000 mark before on-road costs and before a long list of options are brought into play. While its standard level of kit is pretty awesome Matt said he’d personally tick a few boxes to make the most of the options available. “I like my optional extras – and so does Kimberly.” On our test drive Matt discovered a very sophisticated suite of electronics that include a City Safety package that can spot cyclists, pedestrians and cars before he did as well as applying the brakes if he got it wrong at an intersection. He also discovered adaptive cruise control that can take over from you in stop-start traffic and also lane keeping that gives blind-spot warning and cross-traffic detection. There was also a 360-degree camera and a heads-up display too. “You don’t get this stuff in a ute,” said Matt. Volvo has spent up big on the interior of the XC90 and it shows. Scandinavian simplicity and logic abounds, while clever and artful design lifts the cabin everywhere you look. The all-new seats are brilliant and even incorporate shock-absorbing technology should you be unlucky enough to run off the road and suffer an impact through the bottom of the car. Second-row occupants are well looked after and the third row features a pair of full-size seats with proper headrests and armrests with plenty of legroom for all. Those seats can be lowered flat into the floor and with all the seats down. There is 1868 litres of storage capacity, and the rear end of the car can ‘kneel’ down if the air suspension kit is optioned for easier loading. In the front the 9-inch portrait screen in the centre console has allowed Volvo to reduce the number of buttons on the centre stack to just nine. It operates the same way as a typical tablet so even Matt, who by his own admission isn’t big on technology, was able to operate it. The central display controls all functions via three main screens while individual buttons can be repositioned to taste. The steering wheel too, houses a large number of functions, but it needs a period of acclimatisation to really get the most out of it. The steering and suspension in the Volvo was great, road-holding was excellent as is its resistance to body roll, and its braking performance was top notch. Equipped with a multiple driving mode dial, the Comfort setting is soft and cosseting, while Dynamic is firm and well controlled. With 165kW at 4250rpm and 470Nm of torque between 1750-2500rpm, the new four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel is connected to an eight-speed gearbox pushes the 1970kg of SUV around with ease.

The verdict

Given the amount versatility this vehicle has we would have loved a little more time to review everything this car is capable of. However, with Matt’s help we were able to adequately ascertain that the eagerly awaited XC90 is perhaps the best all-around luxury SUV on the market – and Duncan and Ebbett may well be getting a visit from him very soon.


Volvo XC90

Highlighted features as standard:

• Adaptive Cruise Control

• Traction & Electronic Stability Control

• Automatic Headlights & Wipers

• Reversing Camera & Parking Sensors

• Lane Assist & Forward Collision Alert

• GPS Navigation

• Heads-up Display

• Keyless start / Keyless Entry

• Heated Seats

Price: RRP: $116,650 Dealer: Duncan and Ebbett, 15 Hewletts Road, Mount Maunganui. Phone: 07 928 1280.

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