STOCKHOLM, Sweden—The term “Stockholm Syndrome” refers to the psychological phenomenon when a hostage victim develops empathy and sympathy for his or her captor after being forced together for several days. The term came from a bank robbery that happened in Stockholm in August 23, 1973 wherein the hostages, upon release five days later, even defended their captors in court.
It didn’t take me five days to develop positive feelings for the stunning, all-new Volvo XC90. It helped, too, that the Nobis Hotel where we stayed was where the very same bank, now the hotel’s lobby, was located. How times change.
Just over a decade ago, there were only a handful of premium large European sport utility vehicles: the evergreen Range Rover and Land Rover, the then-very new BMW X5, the likewise new Mercedes-Benz ML, and the Volvo XC90.
While the latter three never really challenged the Range Rover and Land Rover in terms of sheer off-road capability, they were more than a match in terms of on-road driving dynamics, luxury, comfort, and safety.
The intervening years have seen a succession of new, sleeker, and more technologically advanced models for all those carmakers (plus the addition of Audi) save for one—the Volvo XC90. At the time when the XC90’s second-generation replacement was supposed to have been in development, then-owner Ford was in the midst of divesting itself of its stakes in Jaguar, Aston Martin, and Volvo. It wasn’t until 2010 when Geely Holdings of China bought the Swedish car company from Ford that full development of the next XC90 gathered steam.
And now, months or even years of speculation has finally ended when Volvo Cars unveiled its flagship SUV, the all-new Volvo XC90, to the world press in its home turf of Stockholm.
And after a walk-through (but no drive yet) of the new XC90, I can say that the new model delivers on its promise to bring out a striking, seven-seat luxury SUV with industry-leading safety features, powertrain technologies, as well as an unrivalled combination of power and fuel efficiency.
Three years in the making and part of a US$11 billion program, the new XC90 marks the beginning of a new chapter in Volvo’s history, capturing its future design direction, incorporating its own range of new technologies, and utilizing its new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) technology.
“This is one of the most important days in our history. We are not just launching a car, but re-launching our brand. This day marks a new era for our company. The XC90 paves the way for a portfolio of exciting new cars to come in the following years,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and CEO of Volvo Car Group.
Symbolizing the historic day in Volvo’s 87-year history, the new XC90 will be the first of the Swedish brand’s cars to carry the company’s new more prominent iron mark, which has the iconic arrow elegantly aligned with the diagonal slash across the bold grille. Together with the T-shaped “Thor’s Hammer” DRL lights, the iron mark introduces an entirely new, distinctive and confident face for Volvo’s forthcoming generation of cars.
The rest of the car is typical Swedish understatement. Think IKEA—another iconic Swedish company—and you’ll be better able to relate to the new vehicle’s seeming lack of flashy adornment. Adding visual muscle are huge wheels that go up to 22 inches.
Unrivalled combination of power and fuel efficiency
The big news is that all XC90 models come with 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines mated to 8-speed automatic transmissions. Gone are the five- and six-cylinder motors beloved by Volvo for almost two decades.
The top-of-the-line XC90 Twin Engine, which combines a supercharger and turbocharger with an 80-hp electric motor, offers an unrivalled combination of power and clean operation: a Porsche Cayenne-like 400 hp and 640 Nm of torque with CO2 emissions of a mere 60 g/km.
‘Twin Engine’ models will carry the badge ‘T8’ and be a plug-in electric car, hybrid car, and high-performance car rolled into one.
The Volvo XC90 range also includes the D5 twin-turbo diesel engine with 225 hp, 470 Nm, best-in-class fuel consumption of around 6 Li/100 km and the D4 turbo diesel engine with 190 hp, 400 Nm and a fuel consumption of around 5 Li/100 km.
The range also offers a T6 turbo engine with supercharger and turbo with 320 hp and a maximum torque of 400 Nm while the base petrol engine is a T5 with 254 hp and 350 Nm.
The XC90’s interior is the most luxurious Volvo cabin yet. The most striking feature is a tablet-like touchscreen control console, which forms the heart of an all-new in-car control system. This system is virtually button-free and represents an entirely new way for drivers to control their car and access a range of web-based services.
The new XC90 interior combines materials such as soft 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.
The XC90 features one of the top audio systems available in the automotive world after Volvo’s audio experts joined forces with their counterparts at the renowned British audio equipment company, Bowers & Wilkins.
The top-of-the-line Bowers & Wilkins audio system features a 1,400W amplifier and 19 B&W speakers, including one of the first air-ventilated subwoofers in a car, which turns the cabin into a giant subwoofer.