The new 2014 Volvo XC90 has finally been unveiled - after several months of drip-feed teasing. Some may argue it’s several years late; the XC90 Mk1 was launched way back in 2002 and has soldiered on through two generations in a single lifecycle.
The new Volvo XC90 is a clean-sheet design and is a significant moment in Volvo’s history. It’s the first major relaunch under Geely’s ownership - at a cost of $11 billion - and premieres the company’s new Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA) which is bound to underpin many larger Volvos in the years ahead, including the replacement S80 executive saloon.
So pay attention to the numerous new engines and technologies available on the XC90. From plug-in hybrids to Apple CarPlay compatibility via a huge nine-inch touchscreen, the new Volvo sets several firsts for the once-conservative Swedish car brand.
It sets the template for the modern Volvo.
Volvo XC90 (2014): in detail
Interestingly, the Volvo XC90 keeps some of the outline of the current crossover, especially when viewed from the front three-quarters. But the design is abundantly different and fresh. You’ll hardly mistake the 2014 XC90 for its predecessor.
The distinctive front lights, styled like Thor’s Hammer according to Volvo, are in the shape of a T. Take notice of this face, along with the sharper shoulder-line, more distinctive grille and reprofiled bonnet. This is the look due to spread to all future Volvos, the company admits.
The design is masterminded by Volvo’s head of design, Thomas Ingenlath, formerly of the VW Group. ‘The overall impression, both exterior and interior, has a strong connection to the key elements in the Swedish lifestyle: the generous space, the celebration of light and the focus on wellbeing,’ he says.
You can tell that Volvo has caught up with the German premium car set when you learn the new XC90 can be appointed with rapper-spec 22-inch wheels. Seven seats are again standard (Volvo claims adults up to 170cm tall with be comfy in the third row).
Engines, specs in 2014 Volvo XC90
Only four-cylinder engines are available in the new SPA platform, as Volvo moves to trim its fuel consumption and emissions. A pair of new engines have been confirmed for the new Drive-E engine family, which powers the new Volvo XC90:
D5 twin-turbo diesel 222bhp, 347lb ft
T6 petrol turbo 316bhp, 295lb ft
Expect further power outputs in due course. The range-topping engine is the plug-in hybrid, dubbed the Twin Engine: it marries the 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol, supercharged and turbocharged, with an 80bhp electric motor at the rear axle to produce a combined output of 395bhp - yet with CO2 output rated at just 60g/km.
Eight-speed automatic transmissions are fitted, all the better to reduce revs and, consequently, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
Safety is, naturally, baked into the new XC90. It is claimed to be the first car in the world capable of auto-braking if the driver turns into a busy road with oncoming traffic deemed to be a risk. Yes, the XC is an important step towards the autonomous car - and Volvo’s aim to reduce deaths in its cars to zero by 2020.
Inside the new Volvo XC90
Colleagues who’ve sat in the new XC90 report a classy interior. It’s virtually button-free, the majority of controls - down to the electric seat reclining function - run by the large eight-inch touchscreen. We’ve already seen the crystal glass gearlever, crafted by renowned Swedish glass-cutter Orrefors.
The cabin is very distinctive and moves Volvo’s sound ergonomic interiors on a notch. It’s a refreshing antidote to the asceticism of many German interiors.
A 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins stereo is available, pumping out sounds to 1400 watts. Enough to guarantee Peppa Pig stories will be audible in the next county.
‘This is one of the most important days in our history,’ says Hakan Samuelsson, president and CEO of Volvo. ‘We are not just launching a car but re-launching our brand. Today marks a new era for our company. The XC90 paves the way for a portfolio of exciting new cars to come in coming years.’
He predicts that Volvo sales will rise 5% in 2014, up from 428,000 sales last year. And once XC90 sales kick in from 2015, he’ll be hoping that increase swells further.
New Volvo XC90: prices, specs
The new Volvo XC90 has definitely moved up a notch; prices now start at £45,785 for a D5 AWD (225bhp). Today’s entry-level D5 ES Geartronic retails from £37,115.
But you can spend way more on a new XC90, should you be desperate enough to own one of the first. Volvo is launching it with a First Edition model, limited to 1927 numbered models equipped with 21in alloys, walnut trim and goodies galore - and selling for a wallet-busting £68,785.
Why 1927? It’s the year Volvo was founded. And as you can tell from the new, super-sized Volvo iron-bar badge on the front of the XC90, Volvo is very proud of its heritage.
Click here to read our blog about the importance of the outgoing Volvo XC90 and how it rebooted modern Volvo.