Motoring and Property Editor
3:55 AM 8th October 2019
Volvo Is Charging Forward With Its Electrification Programme
Volvo is continuing its drive for full electrification of its range, with the aim to improve the quality of air in our cities and also to increase the success of the business.
It is a strategy that seems to be working in the UK as sales increased by 9% in 2018, taking the Swedish company’s overall market share to 2.13%.
So far this year over 30,000 new Volvos have found homes in our home market.
By 2025, some 50% of Volvo car sales will be fully electric and we can look forward to an electric XC40 SUV next year.
In the meantime, every new Volvo launched from this year onwards will have an electric motor. Some will take the form of mild hybrids featuring kinetic energy recovery, whilst existing T6 and T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrids will come with improved batteries.
There is also now the option to buy a plug-in variant of every model of car Volvo build.
Volvo has always been a safety-orientated manufacturer and it has now made the commitment to limit the top speed of its cars to 112mph from 2020. With the UK’s 70mph motorway speed limit, this will have little bearing on us, but may frustrate a few autobahn speed merchants!
Of more interest is Volvo’s aim that no one will be killed or seriously injured in one of its cars and once again 2020 is the target date.
From experience, the latest generation of their cars certainly come fitted with a raft of safety kit, some of which can be a little nannying. Take a hump-back bridge, for example, at a lick and the car will sense upward travel of the suspension and pull the seat belts tight in readiness for a crash – a little disconcerting.
However, all improvements in helping to curb road deaths and serious injuries must be applauded and the technology improves year by year.
At a recent drive event, I had the opportunity to try a selection of Volvo’s latest models and the most time I spent behind the wheel was with an XC90.
Under the bonnet still lurks a diesel engine, but this is now fitted with a 48V starter motor/generator. This combines with a battery that can regenerate power from engine braking which can then be used to help the engine accelerate.
It all works seamlessly and has endowed Volvo’s biggest SUV with a much-needed boost in both performance and economy.
At the first press of the accelerator, it is readily apparent that the XC90 is a more spirited performer compared to the old model, powered by the ageing D5 diesel engine. Emissions are lower too and much as the world is turning against diesel, in a large SUV it still makes the most sense in terms of driveability and economy.
Volvo quotes 37.7 to 44.1mpg, which considering the XC90’s bulk is quite reasonable. From my time behind the wheel, I would suggest the lower figure might be more achievable in the real world. Looking back at my notes, when I had a D5 on test some years ago, I struggled to better 30mpg.
Of course, it is possible to by a T8 plug-in XC90 which can run on electric power only for short distances. It also boasts startling performance if you are in the mood. The downside is the pricing which will add a further £10,000 or more to the list price.
The latest XC90 has also received a few nips and tucks to keep up with the competition and the keen observer may well spot the new front grille and new alloy wheel designs. You can also now get Android Auto connectivity for the first time.
The XC90 is as refined as ever and high-speed cruising is a relaxed affair. A faint rustle from the wing mirrors is about all that will disturb the peace and quiet in the cabin.
Practicality is an XC90 strong point, with three rows of sumptuously comfortable seating. The back row will accommodate smaller adults but getting in is somewhat of a challenge. Children will love it though. Theatre-style seating will ensure that all on board get a good view out.
Inscription trim, as tested, wants for very little but I would definitely add air suspension (£2,150) as it improves the XC90’s ride comfort no end. I would also tick the box for the ‘Seven Seat Comfort Pack’ as it brings with it amongst other things full rear seat air conditioning.
So, there we have it – the latest XC90 is still one of the best large family SUVs on sale and this new hybrid engine not only improves the driving experience but also reduces costs
And if you fancy a test drive, Volvo will bring one to your home or place of work with its Test Drive Plus programme, so why not make that call?
Volvo XC90 B5 AWD Inscription
235hp 1969cc diesel engine
Combined economy 37.7 to 44.1mpg
Emissions 154g/km CO2
0-62mph in 7.6 seconds
Top speed 136mph
Price from £56,985 (£67,510 as tested)