The Volvo XC90 D5 Inscription was named the Best Premium SUV in the Cars.co.za Consumer Awards, which are announced on 14 January 2016.
The Cars.co.za Consumer Awards recognised the Volvo XC90 D5 Inscription as the best premium SUV on sale from new in South Africa. Vehicles in the Premium SUV category were required to have list prices in excess of R700 000 at the time of semi-finalist voting (22 June 2015). Contenders also had to be large SUVs or crossover derivatives thereof.
In this category, the following pillars of success were important to the judging process: Powertrain technology, luxury features, brand strength, design and quality appeal, driving dynamics, space and practicality.
Why did the Volvo XC90 D5 Inscription win?
Volvo’s new XC90 was one of the most eagerly anticipated introductions of 2015 and given how well the newcomer's been received, it seems it was well worth the wait.
The XC90 has a beautifully crafted cabin loaded with clever, high-tech features and there’s an abundance of space, even in the third row.
On paper the Volvo’s 2,0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine seems under-equipped to propel the XC90 with any zeal. However, it performs quite impressively. The engine delivers 165 kW and 470 Nm of torque, the latter output across a range of 1 750 rpm to 2 500 rpm. Performance is good, with a claimed 0-100 km/h time of 7.8 seconds. It’s also very economical, with a claimed consumption figure of 5.8 L/100 km. This translates into a range of 1 224 km range on a 71-litre tank. Finally, this model has a towing capacity of 2 700 kg.
Volvo endeavoured to the endow the XC90 with passenger sedan-like dynamics. As a result, the premium SUVs suspension setup, consisting of an interesting transverse leaf arrangement at the rear, is slightly firm. You could opt for smaller wheels with higher sidewalls, which will undoubtedly improve ride comfort, or specify an air-suspension system.
Several driving modes can be selected from the infotainment screen. Comfort is the default setting, Dynamic sharpens up the handling, and Off-road sets up the large Volvo for some light off-roading. But the XC90 is mostly an on-road biased machine, and it excels there.
The XC90 compares favourably with the best in its class in terms of luxury. When you sit in the cabin for the first time, you're likely to be impressed by the elegant minimalism and excellent occupant comfort. The standard features list is long, too, with high beam assist, front/rear park distance control with a rear-view camera and a power tailgate included.
An option that warrants consideration is the Premium Pack (R55 000), which adds, inter alia, heated front seats, heads-up display, 360-degree surround view and a Bowers&Wilkins audio system. You won’t feel short-changed, however, even in the stock-standard form the XC90's refinement and NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) control is excellent.
The XC90's space utilisation and practicality are hard to beat. It is a genuine seven-seater with space for adults in the rearmost row, as long as they’re not much taller than 1,70 m. The second row offers slide functionality, so that legroom – or lugagge space – can be tailored as required with the rear-seats folded flat. The luggage area is cavernous and Volvo provides ventilation outlets for all three rows, as well as a 12V outlet for each row.
The XC90 represents a bold new direction for the Swedish brand. The significant focus on quality and technology is likely to see this brand’s light shine a lot brighter in the next few years as it moves up the premium ladder into direct competition with the German brands. Locally, the marque is still unfairly punished by poor resale values, but the XC90 has proven popular in South Africa in its previous incarnation and has a reputation for good reliability. This new model is backed by a 5-years/100 000 km warranty and maintenance plan.
Opinion from the judges
“Wow… Volvo’s hit the nail squarely on the head with the new XC90 – quite possibly the best cabin on the market and very cleverly engineered. Refined too.” – Hannes Oosthuizen
“The XC90 represents the reinvention of the Volvo brand, and offers premium design and finishes in a very spacious, yet tech-laded interior that makes the Germans look rather outdated.” – Ashley Oldfield