VOLVO knows not all drivers in need of a large family car want a bulky gas-guzzling SUV. For the past 20 years, it has offered a four-wheel-drive estate car with sufficient ground clearance to make it into a music festival campsite and enough space for five people, their tents, their luggage and a ukulele or two.
The new V90 Cross Country continues that line of go-anywhere – well, almost anywhere – estates that are more affordable than a large, luxury SUV. Not to mention more car-like to drive and easier to load with dogs, antiques or whatever else takes your fancy.
The Volvo V90 Cross Country retails in India at a price of Rs. 60 lakhs (ex-India)
- Probably, the most beautiful estate the world has ever seen
- Superb ride and handling, refinement, ground-clearance, interior space and versatile boot
- Feature loaded with 4-zone climate control, 17-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system, 6 airbags and massage seats
- Solid built quality is evident in every square inch of the car
- Surprisingly, easy to maneuver in the city considering its sheer size
- Volvo’s thin dealer network may prove to be a costly affair in adventures across remote places
- If you’re looking for a luxury SUV with sheer driving pleasure, this may not tick all the right boxes
- Next-gen tech like radar is sorely missed which is found in its younger sibling, the XC 60
- Does not attract the stardom like a German does
One look at the V 90 Cross country and you’re sold! The V90 is the latest car from Volvo internationally (minus the XC-60 facelift) and is an attractive wagon-style version of the new S90 sedan. The face and body section up to the rear doors is more or less identical to the S90. However, the V90 makes a departure from the traditional, boxy estates of the past and has a sleek profile that culminates in a sloping rear windscreen. A striking version of the signature Volvo tail lamp cluster makes for a handsome and dynamic look. For the Cross Country, Volvo has toughened the design with some mild bumper cladding while standard 20-inch wheels fill out the large wheel arches nicely.
Raised stance and rugged-looking bumper distinguish the Cross Country from the normal variant. LED headlights have the auto-bending technology and high-pressure washers. Thor’s Hammer daytime running lights are bright and prominent, even under sunlight:
Rugged-looking front bumper with black inserts and silver skid plate give the Cross Country a beefier appearance than the regular V90. Fog lamps are placed at the ends of the bumper. Parking sensors have been provided:
Rear features high mounted LED tail-lamps with pronounced shoulders – a traditional Volvo design hallmark. Except for the badges, there is no use of chrome anywhere:
This lovely shade of brown looked more of black when viewed under direct sunlight:
Notice the LED headlamps with washer:
Fog lamps are also an LED:
Turn indicators on the ORVM’s:
L-a-a-a-r-g-e bonnet gives it an imposing and muscular stance:
The signature Volvo grill is curved inward:
One of the longest cars in Indian soil:
20″ 10-spoke diamond cut alloy wheels shod with 245/45 section Pirelli P Zero tires. They look great but are a questionable choice if one plans to do some serious off-roading.
The V90 CC is the second Volvo after the XC90 to get the new D5 engine. This motor produces 235hp and 480Nm, making it one of the most powerful 2-liter diesel available in India. These numbers are significantly higher than the 190hp/400Nm from the D4 diesel in the S90. The motor is smooth and quite refined from within the cabin. Power delivery is thoroughly linear with no sudden surges in the power band. Power builds till just over 4,000rpm, after which the engine starts to get quite noisy. The 4,900rpm redline will remain rarely visited.
The V90 Cross Country comes with four driving modes – Eco, Comfort, Dynamic and Off-road.
Eco – The engine stop/start system is activated and the car’s responses are lethargic. Stomp on the pedal, yawn and the car makes some progress – give this mode to your driver.
Comfort – A significant improvement over the Eco mode. I would use this mode around town and on bad roads. The suspension is more compliant and the steering is fairly light. However, show it a fast winding road and it gets roly-poly and pitches – even with the air-suspension!
Dynamic – The steering weighs up and the suspension stiffens. This makes a low speed ride a bit knobbly. However, on the fast sweeping bends between Coorg and Madikere, the car could corner hard in a very secure manner. The steering response is precise and well weighted. As with most electric power steering systems, the feedback is poor, but it was not as woolly as say an Audi. The Dynamic mode is my favorite among the four driving modes on offer.
Off-road – This mode only works at speeds up to 40 km/h. It couples comfort mode with a permanent drive to the rear wheels, which is otherwise, merely on demand. I used this mode only on a muddy track.
The D5 benefits from Volvo’s PowerPulse technology that shoots compressed air into the turbo to spool it up quickly when the driver demands sudden acceleration from low revs. This system stores air in a canister and helps the turbo spool up quicker and works towards eradicating one of the bugbears of a diesel engine – turbo lag. The canister is constantly topped up to ensure continuous operation of the system. In practice, it has helped reduce the effects of lag and the surge of power begins to arrive from just below 1,500rpm. It does well to restrain the effects of lag, but it’s not a magic silver bullet. Put your foot down at low revs, especially on inclines and you still feel the pause before the engine starts to pull convincingly.
The V90 CC uses an 8-speed automatic just like its S and XC siblings. The gearbox offers smooth and near seamless shifts in normal driving conditions but is a bit slow to downshift when driven aggressively. There is no Sports mode for the gearbox to remedy this, so the best solution for spirited driving is to use manual mode with the paddle shifters. There are four driving modes – Eco, Comfort, Off-road and Dynamic. Eco dulls engine response a bit and slightly softens the steering. Comfort finds a middle ground while Dynamic offers heavier steering and sharper engine response. Dynamic also firms up the suspension a bit, but the overall differences between the modes are subtle.
The handling characteristic meets Volvo’s new ‘relaxed confidence’ approach well. While rivals focus on a sportier experience, Volvo aims more at comfort, confidence and capability. Even in Dynamic mode, the V90 feels a bit soft and body roll is evident, although not to off-putting levels. Grip from the all-wheel-drive system is enormous, further aided by the interesting choice of a Pirelli P Zero tire. We’d have expected a less sporty tire for this application, but Volvo says it is specially designed for this application with a softer, more rounded profile. However, given the large wheel and rather low profile, durability on poor roads might be an area of concern. The 20-inchers are the only option on the Inscription trim cars at launch, but Volvo will offer smaller wheels as an accessory.
Rear bumper gets a thick, black insert and a silver skid plate below. Dual exhaust pipes appear well integrated into the skid plate. Like the front, parking sensors have been provided:
LED tail-lamps are split with the reversing lamps housed on the tailgate:
Black insert on the rear bumper has “Cross Country” lettering inscribed on it:
Dual exhaust surrounded by the chrome lining:
Rear wiper does it job quite efficiently:
Door pads sports black and amber leather and silver inserts. The door handle is finished in chrome. Door pockets are deep, but fitting big water bottles in them is likely to pose a challenge:
A plethora of space for the rear passengers:
19-Speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system will make you feel like IMAX, or probably even better:
The front seats are electrically adjustable with the uber-cool massage feature: Volvo is known for their extremely supportive seats and the V90 is no different. The wide range of electric adjustments including Lumbar support make you heel like h-o-m-e:
In the front, this is one of the most elegant interiors of any family car. The seats and driving position are comfortable, and the touchscreen controls are not difficult to master. You could happily spend a couple of days at the wheel. The V90’s Sensus infotainment system features a 9.0in portrait touchscreen through which you control many of the car’s gizmos. At times, it’s unresponsive and hard to find what you want within the vast array of menus and functions. Trying to press some of the smaller icons while driving is pretty tricky as well. We much prefer a rotary dial-controlled interface, such as those fitted to the E-Class All-Terrain and Audi A6 Allroad, which are far less distracting to operate on the go:
The interiors of all SFA-based Volvo cars are dominated by a large central display for the infotainment system. The V90 Cross Country comes with a 9-inch touchscreen unit. It takes a while to understand the system as there are many functions incorporated into it:
Two-zone climate control system at the rear was a boon to use in the Humid climate of Chennai:
offers excellent grip levels, but the buttons on the wheel look a bit old-fashioned:
The massive touchscreen was great to use but was highly pone to fingerprints:
Navigation seemed to work effortlessly until we ventured out into the remote areas of ECR:
Silver insert breaks the monotony of the dashboard:
The rear seats split 60/40 (rivals tend to offer a more flexible 40/20/40 split) and fold completely flat at the touch of a button, located just inside the boot entrance. With the seats down, load capacity grows to 1526 liters – that should see you right for those trips to Mountains or those occasional trips to the airport – and, with a low load height and no internal lip, lifting heavy bags in and out is a breeze. The standard powered tailgate is also a nice touch:
Massive panoramic sunroof will ensure that you are never scarce of Vit D:
One of the coolest features of the car: Electric boot shutdown:
Looks cool! Isn’t it?
Notice the lid of the sunroof popping out. Some may find it a bit out of the box while some may find it cool enough:
The quality of leather seats deserve special attention: The under-thigh support was simply superb:
The long tail-lamps add an aura of elegance to the already stylish estate:
Choose between 3 driving modes:
Ground clearance of 210 mm is sufficient to see the V90 Cross Country clear most obstacles:
As for the driver instrumentation themes, here is the instrument cluster showing the performance theme:
The Volvo V90 Cross Country is a very fine car indeed. While it carries a price premium over few luxury saloons, the superb ride alone is arguably worth it, while those who live down muddy and rutted tracks or need to get to remote locations will appreciate this car’s useful off-road ability. A car that truly stands out from the plethora of luxury saloons around you.