The all-new Volvo V90 Cross Country, a Swede wagon combined with style and practicality, is headed to India
Estates have been around for decades and they've been evolving from their boxy body style to smoother, curvier and more stylish beings that people actually want to buy. Sadly, in India, they aren't the most popular type of car. However, if you think of an estate as a long hatchback, you can see how versatile it could be.
Distinct LED light signature and power tailgate make the V90's rear end quite appealing
'V' is for 'versatility' and the Volvo V90 has that in spades across its five-metre length. At 4,939 mm, it's as long as many premium saloons, but with an even more cavernous boot and a just as credible interior and driveline. The V90 Cross Country adds 60 millimetres of ground clearance, and gets a more butch exterior too. There will be just one variant on offer in India, with radar-assist support systems, air suspension and a twin-turbo diesel all-wheel driveline.
10-inch touch-screen packs all functions in one interface. Pics/Volvo and Jim Gorde
The V90 Cross Country D5 AWD is the model heading to India, and in the next quarter of the year. The V90 XC is the latest version of the 'V XC' line, which began 20 years ago with the V70 XC. The latest to roll off the line is the 235-PS 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel, i-Art injection, PowerPulse, et cetera.
360' camera is a boon in all situations
We drove the V90 XC D5 AWD on winter tyres with studs, so the handling, although unfathomably brilliant, will not be as relevant to Indian roads, unless you head north to places such as Shimla. With winter tyres mandatory at this time of the year in Sweden, the speed limits of 70-90 km/h were a bit of a shocker because, on ice, the best we dared to do at first was 40-50 km/h before realising that the tyres held on to the ice much better.
Studded winter tyres are essential on ice
When you have to build something in challenging conditions, the results can only be incredibly capable. Most other brands head to northern Sweden for cold-weather testing, but Volvos are built there by the people who live there and drive them every day over ice, slush, snow, narrow iced roads and occasional glimpses of tarmac. That makes them well versed with how the cars handle in all environments, while also being able to fine-tune the suspension setup for optimal driving dynamics. On the road, the studded tyres give more than adequate confidence and it's only an overzealous throttle input that actually manages to kick out the tail on occasion.
The V90 XC D5 AWD has the same powerplant as the S90, with the PowerPulse twin-turbo diesel 2.0 four-pot making all of 235 PS at 4,000 rpm with a very usable 480 Nm of torque available between 1,750 and 2,250 rpm.
Weighing about 1,950 kg, the V90 XC D5 AWD behaves like a sub-compact hatch, thanks to its setup. The torque on tap makes it nimble and the PowerPulse — the pressured air canister mounted with the engine to inject air and compensate for turbo-lag — makes it extremely responsive.
The drive modes include, among Comfort and Eco, AWD and Sport, the latter of which allows for rear-biased power transmission making it eager and quick off the line. All of this while enjoying a cabin appointed in fine leather and brushed metal, with a choice of wood trim invariably headed to India.
The V90 XC is a five-seater and has powered everything at the front; with a rear seat you can sink into and enjoy the ample legroom it provides. The car we drove also had heating for seats, which is rather needed when the frozen lake you're driving on has an air temperature that varies between -8°C and -19°C.
The V90 Cross Country, with its near-two-tonne weight, behaved admirably on ice. After a master lap to get us acquainted, we were asked to switch off the Electronic Stability Control and engage 'Sport'. The first thing to get used to was minimal steering input and controlling the car using only the accelerator with a dab of the brakes on occasion.
While very few will actually drive on ice here, the V90 XC will be a great choice for those looking at a luxury estate they can use every day, with all the tech and comfort one could possibly need. At its expected R60 lakh price tag, it could very well be priced at half of what the only other estate on sale in India is at the moment — the R1.35-crore 560-PS Audi RS 6 Avant. Unlike its German 'rival', it offers 210 mm of ground clearance. The power tailgate and power-fold rear seats add more value to the equipment list. Not only is the V90 everything practical and versatile, with its huge tablet-like touch-interface, it packs all the necessary connectivity and conveniences and looks, just as the S90.