Following our earlier test of the diesel-powered Volvo XC90, it was time to sample the petrol engine in the T6 version. What's better, petrol or diesel?The Volvo XC90 has generated much attention since its launch in South Africa in July, and for good reason. There’s much to like about the XC90 and aspects such as styling, interior quality and superb drive quality are glaringly obvious when you step into this large luxury SUV. The XC90 is also big on safety and ranks as the second safest car in South Africa for 2015, only beaten by the Volvo V40, according to Euro NCAP safety statistics which further adds to its appeal.
A few weeks back, we tested the diesel-powered XC90 D5 Inscription and found it to be hugely impressive and, more so, a worthy competitor to segment heavyweights such as the BMW X5 and Land Rover Discovery 4. It impressed us so much in fact, that it’s currently a finalist in the Premium SUV category in the 2015 Cars.co.za Consumer Awards.
On test here is the petrol-powered Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Momentum in Bright Silver Metallic paintwork. Is it better than the diesel model? Let’s find out…
Power Vs EconomyThis very pretty XC90 T6 is fitted with a 2-Litre super- and turbocharged petrol engine and when you consider that there’s 2 750 kg of metal and leather to haul around, you’d think it’s too small, but don’t be deceived. Despite its relatively small capacity, this Volvo-built engine whops out 235 kW and 400 Nm of torque on command through an 8-speed automatic transmission. On the road, those figures translate into a 0-100kph sprint time of 6.5 seconds with a top speed of 230kph. Claimed fuel consumption for the T6 Momentum is rated at 8L/100km.
Comparatively, the D5 Inscription offers less power at 165 kW but more torque with 470 Nm. Performance in the D5 is a bit slower too, with 7.8 seconds in the 0-100kph dash and a top speed of 220kph. Fuel consumption however is where the D5 excels with a claimed combined figure of 5.8L/100km. During our time in the T6 Momentum, we managed to achieve a fuel consumption figure of 12.2L/100km versus 8.0L/100km in the D5 Inscription. Buyers will therefore have to weigh up the importance of power and economy when choosing their XC90.
Magic Carpet RideThe XC90 is not only pleasing to the eye, it's appealing to drive too. As with the D5, the T6 Momentum’s performance is impressive, but not in the sense of being brutally fast, but rather brutally smooth. The beauty of its drive lies in the silence of it all and the XC90 has a way of wafting you on your way, much like a dandelion riding on the wind.
The automatic transmission is barely noticeable as it works its magic to keep power in the sweet spot while the engine hums away quietly. Power is delivered beautifully, in a smooth refined manner, making the XC90 an absolute pleasure to drive. The feeling is quite addictive actually and somehow makes you look forward to your next drive. Ride quality is excellent, even with the optional 20-inch diamond cut alloy wheels this T6 delivers a magic carpet ride and manages to even-out most road irregularities with very little effort at all.
Up to seven passengers can be accommodated in the XC90 and rear passengers will travel in comfort thanks to rear climate control and sufficient leg, head and shoulder room. Space is plentiful in the XC90 and with all the seats in position, boot space is at 314-litres which quickly expands to 692-litres with the third row of seats folded flat. With all the seats folded down, space increases to a substantial 1 947-litres. To put that into perspective, I easily loaded a large bicycle, two surfboards and a dog with very little effort and there was lots of space for more. The XC90 is big!
Feature FestOne thing is for sure, the XC90 is packed with a substantial amount of standard features and buyers shouldn’t feel short changed when driving their XC90 off the showroom floor. The XC90 is built with comfort and convenience in mind and just about anything you will ever need is at your fingertips. Standout features include comfortable leather seats which are electrically adjustable with memory function and are four-way adjustable with lumbar support and cushion extensions for both the driver and passenger. There’s also a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster which incorporates navigation, similar to the Virtual Cockpit found in the latest Audi TT, and provides access to various menus using the mounted steering wheel controls.
The minimalist interior of the Volvo XC90 is clean, plush and attractive thanks to the fact that there are very few buttons present. Most of the vehicle's functions have migrated to the central tablet-style Sensus Connect infotainment system which provides access to everything from navigation, vehicle functions, audio system and climate control. The system is easy to use and navigate by swiping the screen, much like you would on an iPad or smartphone. It’s a marvellous system to use.
Volvo has also gone to great lengths to make the XC90 the safest SUV on the road and as such, the XC90 comes well sorted with safety features which include six airbags, ABS, EBD, Electronic Brake Assist, traction control, electronic stability control, hill descent control, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist and front and rear Park Distance Control.
Volvo XC90 T6 Momentum Price in South AfricaThe base price for the Volvo XC90 T6 Momentum starts at R867 000. Our test unit came fitted with a number of optional extras which included a Black Headliner (R3 000), 20-inch 5-Double Spoke Matt Tech Black Diamond Cut Alloy Wheels (R8 500), Rear Parking Camera (R9 300), Interior Lighting – High Version (R2 250), Keyless Entry with remote tag and hands free tailgate opening (R7 200) and Metallic Paint (R3 250). The total cost of this particular test unit comes in at R900 500.
The Volvo XC90 is sold with a 5-year/100 000km warranty and a 5-year/100 000km Maintenance Plan.
VerdictThe Volvo XC90 is a superb premium SUV that offers a high quality interior and an excellent driving experience. Buyers will appreciate that the T6 Momentum comes well specced with standard convenience and safety features and is competitively priced against its rivals. Apart from its admirable performance, the XC90 blends luxury and versatility extremely well and it can be both a luxury family vehicle during the week as well as your best friend on those weekend adventures into the wild. Premium SUV buyers will be doing themselves a disservice by not considering the XC90, it really is worth a look.
Team OpinionI am a big fan of diesel engines in SUVs but this petrol version is so immediate and creamy smooth it may just have changed my mind. The XC90 as a whole remains an excellent example of how to do big SUVs properly. It's spacious, runs clever tech and is very, very easy to live with. - Ashley Oldfield
We like: Performance, comfort features, interior technology, excellent drive quality
We don’t like: A bit thirsty.
Also Consider: BMW X5, Land Rover Discovery, Audi Q7