VOLVO XC90

Herald Sun - Motoring - - HEAD TO HEAD -

VALUE

Lux­ury brands know how to charge. The pre­vi­ous XC90 could be had for $70,000 late in the model’s life. Now it’s $89,950 be­cause, well, they can get away with it. For now. As with the Audi, op­tions are ex­pen­sive: me­tal­lic paint ($1750), Nappa leather ($2950), 21-inch al­loys ($2825), panorama sun­roof ($2950). Our test car to­talled $113,150.

DE­SIGN/TECH

If you’re in the mar­ket for an XC90 you know by now the T-shaped LEDs in the head­lights are said to have been inspired by Thor’s ham­mer (they weren’t — Volvo came up with the idea af­ter­wards). It still looks the busi­ness. The high­light is the iPad-style cen­tral dis­play screen, which works with pinches and swipes. But don’t leave the show­room be­fore proper in­struc­tions. You don’t want to learn on the move.

EN­GINE

This 2.0-litre turbo diesel (165kW/470Nm) is a sweetie. It has much more punch than you might ex­pect, although is not as pow­er­ful as the Audi’s. With an eight-speed auto it gets off the line smoothly and slips into the most ef­fi­cient gear. It’ll suit most buy­ers’ needs.

SAFETY

A five star safety rat­ing and a raft of stan­dard safety fea­tures such as au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing. Oddly, the brand that built its rep­u­ta­tion on safety still charges ex­tra for some safety items. The “driver sup­port pack­age” (360-de­gree cam­era, head-up dis­play, radar cruise con­trol with lane keep­ing, dis­tance alert and rear col­li­sion warn­ing) is $4000. And while the XC90 has seven airbags, in­clud­ing head pro­tect­ing “cur­tains” that run the length of the cabin, it does not have seat-mounted airbags that pro­tect the ribs of sec­ond row seat oc­cu­pants (as in the Q7).

DRIV­ING

The XC90 drives much bet­ter than the pre­vi­ous model. Driven in iso­la­tion, the new model is fine. But a lap around the block in the Audi will demon­strate the Volvo still has room for im­prove­ment. Could I live with the way the XC90 drives? Ab­so­lutely. Just one word of warn­ing, though: avoid the op­tional air sus­pen­sion on the Volvo at all costs. It drives bet­ter with the reg­u­lar sus­pen­sion.

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