The V90 Cross Country is an estate that offers a good blend of the suave S90 sedan and the dynamic XC90 SUV.
Volvo V90 Cross Country First Drive Review
Twenty Inchers! Yes, you read it right – this V90 Cross Country is rolling on 20-inch rims! Not too long ago such massive rims were optional even on the finest of sports cars like the Porsche 911. And here it is a part of the standard package.
That’s only one example of how unorthodox this newest Volvo is. And there’s lot more to it!
The V90 Cross Country is an estate that offers a good blend of the suave S90 sedan and the dynamic XC90 SUV. It promises sedan-like comfort, handling and ride quality with SUV-ish ride height, road presence and capability. All of these new generation Volvos are built on a common platform, the SPA – Scalable Platform Architecture and even shares the same 2.0-litre diesel engine.
Unlike the earlier Cross Country models in Volvo’s Indian portfolio, the V90 CC has made its way before the standard V90. And looking at the overall package it offers – the decision seems legit too. The V90 CC gets SUV-rivaling 210 mm of ground clearance(60mm more than the regular counterpart) and air suspension in the rear. So, no more tension of scrapping the underbody on our too maintained roads and idiotically steep speed breakers, even when the car is fully loaded. It also gets a Haldex All Wheel Drive system from the elder sibling XC90.
The V90 Cross Country is too stylish to be called an estate. It stands poles apart from the conventional, boxy estates of the past and looks fantastic from every angle you look at it. The front fascia is borrowed from the very elegant S90(on which this car is based upon) and gets the same ‘Thor’s hammer’ LED daytime running lights and a studded concave grille with an imposing Volvo logo slapped over it. Until the B-pillar it’s the same story like the S90, but thereon you can see the elongated roofline that beautifully terminates in to a modern-looking rear end.
A chiseled version of the brand’s iconic waterfall tail lamp cluster and chrome-treated dual exhausts compliments the rear look very well. Like any other Cross Country-badged Volvo, the V90 CC also gets plastic cladding all around. It’s a minimalistic treatment though and goes very much hand-in-hand with the overall design. And not to forget – those sexy low profile 20 inch rims which fill out the large wheel arches neatly.
Enter the V90 Cross Country’s cabin, and a sense of richness greets you. The interiors are based on the S90 and the XC90 and if you’ve ever sat in any of these two cars – you already know what I am talking about. Utmost quality materials offering the best of feel and comfort – that’s the USP of this cabin.
The dashboard remains the same with a simple layout and large 9-inch touchscreen with only one physical button at the centre. There are no buttons for the aircon either and that’s also accessible via the same touchscreen. Adjoining the screen are the tall, metal-finished aircon vents which I personally find really stylish. The wood inserts on the dash and doors of the S90 have now been replaced with spick-and-span aluminium panels. The interior shade of tan leather or Amber leather(as Volvo calls it) on the test car looks premium but if you find it too light to maintain(like me) – a darker shade is also there in option.
My favourite bit of this cabin is the brilliant 1,400 watt Bowers and Wilkins music system. The ouput from the 19-speaker music system is phenomenal. It just takes you to another world where nothing is there between you and your favourite music. If there’s one thing in this car that has left me spellbound – it has to be the music system.
The front seats on the V90CC are really comfortable and supportive. These are the same units like the S90 and offer electric adjust for the bolsters and lumbar support. It is also equipped with massage feature that will keep you and you-passenger free from fatigue. Another very handy feature for a hot country like ours – is the fact that both seats are ventilated.
The rear seats, on the other hand, are surprisingly not so comfortable. Lack of proper under thigh support and the constantly poking cup holders from the middle arm rest – make the rear bench of V90CC a not-so-happy happy place. Neither the rear seats get any of the adjustment or fancy features from the front seats. And that’s simple foolishness. This may be a driver’s car(going by the logic given by Volvo officials) in the Europe but in India, majority of these will be chauffeur-driven and such an uncomfortable rear bench is a huge let down.
The estate buyers are very much concerned about the practicality aspect and the boot space. And this one’s got plenty of it. With rear seats up – it gets a 560 litres of wide and flat storage space. In case that’s not enough – the rear seats can be dropped to increase that capacity over 1500 litres.
As mentioned above, the V90 Cross Country gets the same 2.0-litre diesel engine like its sedan and SUV siblings. While the S90 comes with a D4 state of tune, the V90 Cross Country gets a more powerful D5 version like the XC90. The engine puts out a good 235bhp and 480Nm of peak torque. Just like the car’s character, there’s no drama from the engine either. Power delivery is quite linear and feels more comfortable when driven with a light foot. Yes, the unit sounds too good for a diesel.
The 8-speed gearbox also remains the same. Like the engine, it is also more suited for a gentle and comfortable driving style. It works quite nicely in regular driving conditions, but feels lagging when you go too enthusiastic over it. Often usage of paddle shifter could be the key for your happiness in this case.
Volvo engineers have come up with a new tech called the ‘Power Pulse’ which helps the engine eliminate the turbolag. Normally, the turbocharger is able to only spool up once there’s enough pressure available and that’s mostly above 2,000rpm. But with the help of Power Pulse, the turbo is able to spool quicker than the regular. Actually, the system stores high-pressure air in a tank and discharges it into the turbocharger before it spools. The tech works well but nothing of the pathbreaking sort.|
A total of four driving modes are on offer – Eco, Comfort, Off-road and Dynamic. Eco is the dullest of the lot and dynamic being the liveliest. The change in modes fine tunes the engine response, steering feel and suspension settings. Sorry, to say but the differences between the modes are really subtle and driving experience largely remains the same.
The V90CC has a nicely tuned suspension and offers a good ride quality. On smooth and patchy roads, the V90 just glides over the tarmac with no tantrums what-so-ever. Normal bumps are soaked by utmost ease and you hardly feel anything sitting inside the cabin. But then comes the specialty of our desi roads, the huge potholes, which definitely causes discomfort especially when met at high speeds. Instead of having the stock low profile 20 inchers, 18 or 19 inch rims(available as an accessory) with taller sidewalls would have done wonders to the ride quality.
Roads from Mangalore to Coorg are really enjoyable having lots of twisties and sharp corners. But that’s not an ideal habitat for an estate that’s almost 5-metres long. Surprisingly, the V90CC was simply outstanding around those roads. Chucking the V90CC around the corners was so much fun! The Haldex AWD system and super sticky 245/45 section Pirelli P Zeros did wonders around the corners. The steering is quite precise as well but lacks proper feedback, though.
Let’s talk about Volvo’s USP now – the safety features. You think of an automotive safety feature and this Volvo comes with one. It gets advanced radar safety in which your car keeps on scanning for any obstacle in the front be it a human or an animal. And will bring the car automatically to a halt, if you act ignorant. The radar also helps in maintaining a safe distance from the car ahead you. Here again, the car will automatically slow down or even stop, if you don’t act proactively. There’s lane assist feature as well. If you don’t stick to your lane, the car will warn you with steering vibration and will steer you back in the lane. Although, I found this particular system little annoying at certain occasions. All these are just the major highlights and I would require a special article just for the safety features if I start mentioning each and every safety feature available on this car.
We Indians love space, which the V90 Cross Country certainly offers. We like luxury, which is very much there in every element of this Volvo. We want good suspension setups and high ground clearance(since most of our roads are off-roads) and the V90CC excels in that area. Basically, the V90CC offers everything you’d expect from a 60-70 Lacs luxury sedan or an SUV(except the rear discomfort). Not to forget, all this is delivered with the best of attention to detail. And the little Swedish flag is the prime evidence to that.