This year, the Swedish automaker has announced that starting 2019, it will cease all development of internal combustion engines and only launch models that are either hybrid or pure electric. Volvo is the first and only automaker to make such courageous commitments. Volvo announced that by the year 2020, no passenger of a Volvo passenger vehicle will die or be seriously injured in an accident. And if you have even remotely followed Volvo’s history, you will know that the company was facing an existential crisis under Ford during the financial meltdown of 2008.
Volvo has become one of the finest makers of automobiles of this new self-driving era, taking on the might of the German trio with equal amounts of panache and aplomb. For India, it began with the stunning XC90 sports utility, followed on with the beautiful S90 saloon, and now there is the V90 Cross Country.
In essence, the V90 Cross Country is a jacked up S90 with all terrain capabilities. Right upto the C-pillar, the Cross Country is similar in specification to the saloon version, and since we have elaborately reviewed the S90 in an earlier review, we will focus only on the ‘Cross Country’ bits here. The S90 was a gorgeous car to begin with, and the V90 CC has followed on in its foot steps. The estate profile has been designed very well moving away from the boredom prone lines of yesteryear. The ground clearance is a colossal 210 mm, that’s 8.3 inches of breathing room under the car, and if that were not enough, the 20-inch rims are right out of supercar territory and on first impressions, you are convinced that the ride quality with such low-profile tyres is going to be abysmal, only it isn’t. We will get around to that later.
Black plastic cladding surrounds the lower part of the car for off-road durability, and the entire package, as a whole, feels dirt ready. There is no way the Cross Country doesn’t turn heads on the road. It isn’t a saloon and it definitely doesn’t command the conventional SUV badging, and yet it is able to offer the best of both worlds in a luxurious setting.
Volvo has introduced brown leather upholstery in the Cross Country as against the beige setup in the S90. Here is where the S90 derivation becomes even more apparent. The interiors are right out of the S90 saloon spare a few changes here and there. The raw wooden trim we fell in love with in the S90 has been replaced with aluminium panels, which do the job in the setting of an off-roader, but do not invite the same level of attention as the wooden panels did. Volvo has assured that the wooden trim would still be available as an optional extra, which we reckon quite a few customers would choose to shell out the extra money for. The rest of the cabin feels almost exactly the same as the S90, until you go past the C-pillar.
The estate profile of the car has resulted in a bump in luggage room from the 500 litres on the S90 to 560 for the V90 Cross Country, 1526 litres with the rear passenger seats down. No amount of cargo is going to surprise this car. They believe that consumer choice is slowly shifting to darker shades inside the cabin and we concur. The deep brown dual-tone texture of the cabin suits the opulence present inside the car.
Features and Specifications
This is where the V90 Cross Country creates serious distance between itself and its saloon brother, moving into the larger XC90 territory of offerings. It comes endowed with partial self-driving tech, which includes radar assisted cruise control, automatic braking and self-parking. When activated, the radar guided cruise control detects the vehicle in front and controls the Cross Country’s acceleration, braking and steering in relation to the car ahead. Although it is an uber cool function to witness under action, we do not expect it to be of much use in Indian road settings. The system is calibrated to maintain a two-car length from the traffic ahead, and that becomes quite an impossible driving task in a country like India.
The auto-braking function is a neat safety addition. Operational under 50 km/hr, the car automatically brakes when it detects another car up ahead in very close proximity to it. Like in bumper to bumper traffic. The only challenge is that the system assumes the driver isn’t paying attention and applies the brakes in full force, which can lead to a car crashing into the rear of your beloved Volvo.
On the Road
Under the hood, the V90 Cross Country carries a 2.0 litre diesel D5 twin-turbo engine that produces 231 hp of power and 480 Nm of torque. It also comes equipped with a compressed air tank that injects air into the intake manifold to get rid of the turbo lag apparent in diesels. Volvo invented this technology and calls it ‘Power Pulse’, and it works as advertised. Not only is turbo lag absent, the torque peak kicks in from a lowly 1750 rpm, resulting in a rapid, very potent acceleration. The power produced too, is sent to all four wheels via a Haldex 5th generation all-wheel-drive system, which is smart enough to figure out the road or non-road conditions underneath the Cross Country, and make use of the power on offer.
The Cross Country will remain unfazed by poor to no road conditions, it shouldn’t and cannot be your serious off-the-road choice of transportation. However, the 200-odd horses that the engine produces and mates to an 8-speed automatic gearbox, does result in a very matured drive. The AWD system adds to the available traction and grip on the road, and keeps the car plastered around corners, with just a hint of body roll creeping in. The gearbox does tend to get a bit lazy when the need to downshift arises, but that has sort of become intrinsic to all auto-transmissions of today.
As far as comfort goes, the front suspension is independent with a wishbone-coil spring setup, while the rear features air suspension. What trouble your understanding are the 20-inch rims when you are first introduced to the Cross Country. Large rim diameters and low-profile rubber doesn’t correspond to the most comfortable of rides. Yet, and we cannot stress this enough, the ride quality on the V90 Cross Country is very good.
The Volvo V90 Cross Country sits between the S90 (INR 51.6 lakh) saloon and XC90 (INR 67 lakh – 1.02 crore) sports utility, in an attempt to offer the best of both worlds to consumers. And when you actually walk into a Volvo showroom and see all three cars standing side by side, the placement becomes clear and logical. The Swedish automaker has priced the car at INR 60 lakh ex-showroom, a good 8.5 lakh over the S90 sibling and shy of its sports utility brother. You pay the premium for the off-road credibility, all-wheel-drive system, radar assisted goodies, and an acre in additional luggage room. Not to forget the very sleek profile of the car itself.
If you are in the hunt for a BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E Class, Audi A6, or one of the German sports utilities too, your decision shouldn’t be final until you have driven the V90 Cross Country.