Volvo V90 D4 AWD Cross Coun­try Auto

IN A NUT­SHELL Pri­ori­tises style over space, but a fine work­horse

Practical Caravan - - Showroom Running Reports -

Tested by Alas­tair Clements Price £42,520 Kerb­weight 1860kg Tow­ing/tow­ball lim­its 2400kg/130kg

WHEN MY FAM­ILY de­cided on a week­end of wild camp­ing in place of a tourer, I reck­oned a Volvo es­tate was just the thing to fit in our two dogs, two kids, tent and seem­ingly end­less pile of kit. It soon be­came clear that al­though this is a mas­sive car, es­pe­cially in the limo-like rear, it isn’t the util­ity wagon of Volvo estates of old. With the dogs and our clothes and food on board – we were grate­ful for the rigid plas­tic boot liner – the main lug­gage area was just about used up, so we moved on to stuff­ing the rear footwells with sleep­ing bags and pil­lows. Which just left the not in­con­sid­er­able prob­lem of the eight-per­son tent and camp­ing chairs. ‘Our’ Volvo is not fit­ted with roof­bars, so I was ini­tially stumped, un­til I re­mem­bered that I had a Thule bike rack in the shed. I de­ployed the fold­ing tow­bar (a £995 op­tion), fit­ted the rack and was de­lighted to dis­cover it made the per­fect plat­form for the tent and a cou­ple of chairs – care­fully se­cured in place, of course. It didn’t do a lot for the Volvo’s (I think) sen­sa­tional looks, but was just what we needed, and we were soon on the road, grate­ful for the V90 Cross Coun­try’s com­fort­able ride, which didn’t jig­gle around our cargo too much.

Ex­cel­lent con­trol

Even driv­ing solo, it’s easy to see why the Volvo is such a fine tow car. Al­though fairly soft, it has ex­cel­lent body con­trol, and its con­sciously un­sporty na­ture results in a calm, sta­ble long-dis­tance tour­ing car. With­out a van be­hind, the steer­ing feels a lit­tle slow, with a re­luc­tance to self-cen­tre, but when tow­ing, this is ac­tu­ally a real help as it avoids sud­den move­ments that can up­set the van. The 190PS en­gine, al­beit just 2.0 litres, is mus­cu­lar, torquey – with a whop­ping 295lb ft – and re­fined. The mas­sive 12.3in ipad-style cen­tral dis­play is pretty nifty once you’ve worked your way around the var­i­ous menus, but I did have one com­plaint. Our car has the op­tional 360º park­ing cam­era (£700), which works well ex­cept for the fact that the ‘over­head’ im­age of the car on the screen is not to scale – it’s too small, which means you need to be a bit sharp to avoid nudg­ing any ob­sta­cles when ma­noeu­vring. Oh, and the camp­ing? It was quite won­der­ful to get back to na­ture, but I must con­fess that af­ter a night in near-freez­ing tem­per­a­tures, with wet dogs and shiv­er­ing kids in­vad­ing our cor­ner of the tent, I was re­ally look­ing forward to get­ting back into a car­a­van.

CLOCK­WISE FROM MAIN The stylish Volvo V90 had enough boot space for al­most ev­ery­thing, but the tent and chairs had to go on a bike rack at the back

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