Volvo V90 Cross-Country Driven Review
As motoring journalists, we occasionally come across vehicles which we like to describe as being “all the car you’ll ever need” but this is a bit silly if you actually stop and ponder for a moment… Sure, if you’re a lifeguard, a flip flop could be all the shoe you ever need, but the same cannot be said if you own a racing school or climb Everest for “fun”. Inversely, should your chosen profession be either scubadiving or bird stalking, those brogues won’t be quite the same fit for you as they would a lawyer. You get the jist of what I’m trying to say – different occasions and different motorists call for different vehicles, despite the wide breadth of capability most modern cars possess, yet none in my recent memory has a set of skills quite as varied as the Volvo V90 Cross Country’s.
Dare I say it, it’s all the car you’ll ever need, I promise. From its swanky side profile to sumptuous interior, there is not a single smidgen of the V90 Cross Country that doesn’t ooze Swedish individualism and left-of-field boldness. Its front profile mimics that of it’s S90 and V90 siblings, albeit a bit raised and covered in rugged black plastic for that “I can go off road a bit” look. It’s all very handsome and smart and it isn’t just for show either, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
To test just how well it stands out while fitting in, I decided to take it on a little family roadtrip down to the Natal Midlands for the annual Range Rover, GLS, S-Class and 7-Series get together, otherwise known as the Hilton Michaelhouse rugby match. Here, mere 5 Series’ and E-Classes are way out of their depth and blend in like kitka on the kosher shelf with the odd Ghibli and Quattroporte even disappearing in the crowd.
You can imagine my surprise then, when I became somewhat of a traffic jam spectacle upon arriving at the school gates, flanked by a Range Rover L and a G500. There’s something about Thomas Ingenlath’s pencilwork that just turns heads and makes one realise just how integral this man has been to Volvo’s recent onslaught on the Germans. Luckily, then, the V90 Cross Country is not all good looks and flaccid performance…
On the five and a half hour drive from Johannesburg, Pilot Assist did most of the work, only really requiring my steering input through the twisties of Van Reenen’s Pass. With 171 kW and 480 N.m from its 2.0-litre diesel motor, overtaking was a breeze, even with the added weight of 4 Whittles and their luggage for 5 days (that’s a lot of luggage). With an indicated range of over 1 000 km on a single 60 litre tank, it’s frugal too, managing to return an average of 6.1 l/100km on the trip there. NVH levels are superb to the point where highway speeds feel glacial and wind noise but a myth. The optional Bowers & Wilkins speaker system handled the obligatory roadtrip playlist with aplomb and even elicited praise from mum and dad who insisted on throwing a bit of Cat Stevens into the mix, tasty.
Flashy celeb and superb cruiser, what else is the V90 Cross Country good at? Well, anyone who’s ever been to the Midlands will know that the Midlands Meander does just that, it meanders. The twisty roads make for some exciting driving and again, the V90 just took it in its stride. Wiggle the Driving Mode selector into ‘Performance’ mode and you are presented with firmer damping, slightly heavier steering, but not too heavy like some of its competitors, and sharpened throttle response. Here is where Volvo’s Powerpulse system really shines, eliminating turbo lag and providing punchy torque so very low down on the rev range. Who would have ever thought that a Volvo Cross Country station wagon could bring a smile to a brisk driver’s face?
And so, having wowed us all with its performance, presence, frugality and prowess, the only task left would be to explore the mushy fields of the Natal Midlands. For the high-speed dirt roads with a speed limit of 70 km/h, comfort mode has to be engaged but it does such a sterling job of soaking up vibrations and bumps. One can feel the Haldex AWD system doing its bit too, transferring torque to the relevant places in order to keep the car on the road.
Once you leave the road, though, ‘off-road’ mode really impresses, raising the ride height as and when necessary and decreasing throttle sensitivity, allowing for precise manoeuvring of this 5-metre long wagon.
It goes without saying that the V90 Cross Country benefits from Volvo’s vast array of safety features, including pedestrian detection and adaptive cruise control as standard features across the range.
Volvo V90 Cross-Country Pricing in South Africa
Pricing is below and considering it currently has no direct competitors in its segment, these numbers sit very nicely between potential competitors, above and below, such as Mercedes-Benz’s GLC (R676 622 – R875 986) and BMW’s X5 (R991 664 – R1 322 256).
So, all the car you’ll ever need? Probably…
Volvo V90 Cross Country D4 Geartronic AWD Momentum R804 752
Volvo V90 Cross Country D4 Geartronic AWD Inscription R835 152
Volvo V90 Cross Country D5 Geartronic AWD Momentum R850 066
Volvo V90 Cross Country D5 Geartronic AWD Inscription R880 466
Volvo V90 Cross Country T5 Geartronic AWD Momentum R784 186
Volvo V90 Cross Country T5 Geartronic AWD Inscription R814 586
Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 Geartronic AWD Momentum R906 184
Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 Geartronic AWD Inscription R936 584