Estates have not really had a happy story in India. Irrespective of whichever segment they were launched in, they were not very well received. But Volvo is trying to take a different approach with the V90 Cross Country. Yes this is an estate and a big one at that, but it also promises almost everything a proper SUV can. This includes design, practicality as well as functionality. This is not the first Cross Country the Swedish car maker is getting to India but certainly the most expensive. It’s a part of family that also includes the S90 luxury sedan and the XC 90 SUV and Volvo says if you want both these in one single unit it is the V90 Cross Country. We were in the Scotland of India, the land of beautiful coffee plantations, Coorg to experience the car first hand.
From the front the V90 Cross Country resembles the S90 sedan. Be it the 23 vertical concave slats or the signature headlamps. The similarity continues almost till the C pillar barring of course the body cladding that is seen all around the car. It is intimidating to look at it from the profile as the length is almost 5 meters. Yes the roof is low but that doesn’t affect the ground clearance as it stands at a good 210mm, beating some SUVs in the process. The roof rails though aren’t prominent enough and slightly bigger ones could’ve added a bit more character to the car. On the rear once again you see some signature Volvo traits like LED tail lamps. The twin exhausts and spoiler with integrated brake lights certainly add more muscle to this Cross Country. Overall this is a stance that appeals and it grows on you. You know it’s the sort of car that will bring a lot more vibrancy on the roads.
The quality, fit and finish is top notch in the V90 Cross Country. The interiors pretty much remind you of the XC 90 SUV. The highlight is the nine inch touch screen system that is very responsive and has a lot of functions including navigation and park assist. There’s minimal use of buttons which is very signature Volvo. When compared to the XC 90 aluminum inserts replace the wood on the V90 Cross Country. The three layers on the dash combined with superior quality are as classy as it gets. The Bowers and Wilkins sound system has power worth 1400 watts and is one of the highlights of the car. Add the instrument cluster to that list; it looks very premium and is very informative. The digital meters which look analog provide for an old world charm in a new age car. And then of course there’s the head up display, another feature that adds to the driver’s convenience. The front row seats get massage, heating and cooling features but the second row misses out on that. But four zone climate control compensates well for that. The design of the car also guarantees a big boot and at the press of a button the second row seats fold down to create more space. The hatch itself is automated and can be opened and closed either by press of a button or by merely swiping your leg below the car.
The V90 Cross Country runs on a 2.0 liter D5 Diesel engine that gives a maximum power of 235 bhp and peak torque of 480 Nm. In this engine Volvo has come up with something called Power Pulse technology that ensures that there’s hardly any turbo lag as peak torque kicks in earlier than expected. And that is aided well by a very efficient gearbox. It’s an eight-speed automatic transmission and to have more fun you have the option of paddle shifts as well. The refinement levels are up to the mark and you also have to compliment Volvo in keeping the cabin well insulated from exterior sounds as well as engine noise. You’re never away from the perfect driving position and a little compass on the rear view mirror helps make the drive more engaging.
Ride & Handling
On roads like these which were full of sweeping corners and also had some bad stretches, the ride and handling characteristics of the V90 Cross Country were right up there. The air suspension is a boon as it adjusts to almost all kinds of road surfaces. Another thing that works greatly with the V90 Cross Country is its steering wheel. Its fantastic response on the twisty roads is a godsend. Four driving modes namely Eco, comfort, dynamic and rough road ensure that car can handle all surface conditions. The fact that it also has the hill ascent and descent control features augurs well for smooth sailing in difficult driving situations. And finally radar based cruise control works really well for our country where the car accelerates and applies brakes itself according to traffic situations.
Volvo is trying what hasn’t really been tried before in India. A fully capable estate placed in the luxury car space. But this is what separates them from the German brand of luxury cars. An exclusive car from an exclusive brand is what best describes the V90 Cross Country. Volvo has done no harm to the prospects of the estate by pricing it at Rs 60 lakh, ex-showroom. This is just a few lakhs more than the S90 for a car that gives so much more.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars