The Volvo V90 Cross Country (V90 CC) is the Swedish carmaker's very unique and interesting offering for the Indian market. The Indian market has seen the introduction of estate and station wagons earlier, but they have not really been an aspiring buy.
However, Volvo believes they can change this with the V90 CC, which provides the practicality of an estate, the ground clearance of an SUV and the luxury and driving pleasure of a sedan. We recently went to Coorg to drive this vehicle in the picturesque hilly region. Here´s what we discovered about the car.
Volvo's V90 estate, sold globally, is not available in India, but the S90 sedan is on sale. So the upcoming V90 Cross Country is really an estate version of the S90. It sports a full sized cargo space instead of the sedan's boot. Right up to the C-pillar, the V90 CC is similar to the S90 with a simple yet sharp design language.
The brand's traditional Thor's Hammer-shaped LED DRLs and headlamps are a quirky trait on this new vehicle too. Coming onto the sides, you will notice that it is a raised derivative of the S90 riding on striking 20-inch wheels. The rear section will remind you of the XC90 SUV with vertically stacked LED tail lamps. On closer inspection, it will be evident that the car also gets reworked bumpers with faux skid plates, a beefier plastic black cladding on the belt-line and brushed aluminium finished roof rails.
Since the V90 CC borrows traits from Volvo's flagship sedan S90 and XC90 SUV, there is a host of equipment from the latter two. The interior, finished in a different shade of amber with charcoal color (basically a shade of brown paired with black), is complete with soft touch materials. There is a generous splash of brushed silver accents in the cabin to give it that premium feel. The black dashboard and contrasting tan brown leather seats look good and are practical too. They won't get soiled easily. A big 9.2-inch tablet sized touchscreen infotainment system sits prominently on the center console. It replaces most of the buttons including HVAC controls – again a job neatly done. The 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins music system is unbelievably good and has better acoustics than many home theatre systems. Volvos are known for their safety features and the V90 CC is not short on any of them. It is equipped with several kinds of safety equipment including ABS, EBD, airbags, lane and brake assist, Intellisafe Radar based warnings systems, a 360 degree camera, self -park assist function and so on.
The front two seats are wrapped in Nappa leather as against artificial leather. Volvo believes a luxury car should sport this primarily, so these two seats are perforated and ventilated too. They get heating, cooling and massage options, all offered as standard. The latter feature is very functional as it put me off to sleep quickly in the passenger seat. If this was available in the rear seats too, it would have been this product's USP since none of the competitors have it. Nonetheless, rear comfort is taken care of by a four-zone climate control. The second row has abundant leg room, shoulder room and headroom for two occupants. The high transmission tunnel still limits the accommodation of a third person though. Visibility and view of the surroundings is brilliant from inside thanks to the large glasshouse and massive panoramic sunroof. This also adds to the general sense of space.
The large station wagon's tail gate can also be opened by just swiping your foot under the rear bumper. It opens up automatically and you have access to 560 liters of boot space, which can be expanded to 1,526 litres with the rear seats folded down. This boot space is equipped with neat hooks to secure small pieces of luggage. This is a very thoughtful provision as it can keep the luggage intact and not let it bounce around. As we made our way up the winding ghat roads to Madikeri, it proved helpful to secure our small packaged lunch bags. This boot space also houses a spare tire without compromising on the luggage space.
While the S90 gets the 190bhp and 200Nm D4 2.0-litre diesel mill, the V90 CC is powered by the D5 2.0-litre from the XC90. It produces 235bhp and 480Nm of torque, thus making it the most powerful 2.0-litre diesel unit in India. Having said that, we are reminded of the fact that diesel engines typically have a turbo lag. However, Volvo's engine has a Power Pulse technology, which features an air tank with air stored in it. This gives the engine an initial push prior to the hot air kicking in from the turbo. This helps in reducing the lag, and in fact below 1,500rpm, we could feel that the lag had reduced to a bare minimum. Post this, the engine felt even more enthusiastic and this boost kept building up till 4,800rpm (redline). However, we never felt the need to rev so much as the 480Nm of torque was delivered efficiently by the AWD system, letting the car pull cleanly at 2,500rpm itself. And at all times, the diesel motor was surprisingly quiet. Volvo has also done a great job of noise isolation in the cabin too. Apart from the burble, the engine never got noisy.
Depending on one's driving style, he can choose from four drive modes - eco, comfort, rough road and dynamic. Rough road setting can be selected only when driving is below 40kmph. In every mode, power delivery, steering feedback and air suspension settings are altered according to the mode selected. While the engine upshifts early in the eco and comfort mode, it becomes more lively in the dynamic mode by letting you rev till the redline. The eight-speed automatic transmission does an excellent job of complementing the engine. Having said that, it still isn't as quick while going on to a lower gear. But then for that, one can switch to manual mode and control the gearshifts using the paddle shifts. This easily translates into having a blast behind the wheel.
I thoroughly enjoyed the long drive in twisties in the hills, a few slow stretches on the way out of Mangalore and then a couple of the fast stretches in between. The V90 CC's steering is precise and works like a gem around the corners. It weighs up nicely, which is clearly apparent in the dynamic mode. And, despite being a long car, it is a joy to drive it around bends. The AWD paired with the sporty Pirelli tyres offered good grips levels even on the wet tarmac. The braking capabilities are excellent with proper feel and feedback. Undoubtedly, we could push through the ghats at a brisk pace with plenty of confidence. Though the ride height cannot be adjusted, the air suspension at the back ensures that the ride height remains the same. It works in conjunction with the double wishbones in the front to offer a nice ride. Sure, the side-to-side movement increased at low speeds, but then this was on really bad patches of road. Otherwise it is evident that the suspension has been tuned to focus on better ride comfort as well as improved handling and stability. And it does this job well.
Cocooned as we were, in those comfortable seats, we could easily take on the rough patches too. So we decided to take it off-road where the 210mm of ground clearance helped a lot. On the road, the V90 CC is predominantly a FWD car, but its AWD comes into action whenever power to the rear wheels is required. Especially while off-roading, whenever it detects slip, it delivers power to the rear wheels automatically. Hill descent control worked very well, while we managed to find out way out without getting stuck. This is commendable for a vehicle shod with just road tyres. So the V90 CC isn't as rugged as a typical off-roader, but will take some of the difficult terrains in its stride with ease.
|Model||V90 Cross Country|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||235bhp @ 4,000|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||480Nm @ 1,750-2,250|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||60|
|Tyre size||245/45 R20|
|20-inch alloy wheels||Yes|
|Lane assist and brake assist and parking assist||Yes|
|Reversing camera with guidance||Yes|
|Different driving modes||Yes|
|Nappa seat upholstery||Yes|
|Bowers and Wilkins sound system||Yes|
The V90 has a distinct design, the practicality of an SUV, drives well and boasts of top-notch levels of comfort, luxury and features too. For now, from a purely product stand point of view, it has almost everything to make it a winner. So we think the undisclosed price for the upcoming CBU model will be the make or break deal. Also, despite being a CBU, if the competitive price of the new vehicle is anything to go by, we expect very positive things for the new V90 CC.
And even if this looks like an interesting proposition, remember, Audi might then bring in their A6 AllRoad, while Mercedes-Benz could also be prepping to launch their E-class All-Terrain. It looks like things are really about to heat up in this niche segment! As to who will emerge the winner among these luxury off-roaders, only time will tell.
Pictures by: Ninad Ambre and Volvo