Model Update: Volvo XC90

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It’s finally arrived: and, if your heart is set on a stylish alternative to the premium German contenders in the large SUV market, and you’re happy with a price point between R827000 and R1 066m, then the new XC90 makes a great case for itself. It’s no Grade-4-trail tackler, nor does it pretend to be. But, as an up-to-theminute family conveyance on tar, gravel and icy roads, few do the business better.

These are some of the things to like:

– Stunning exterior design, with classic Swedish touches – including LED headlights with the Thor’s Hammer theme. It’s compact, yet spacious, with some bling touches and none of that ugly plastic side-cladding.

– Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA). The XC90 is the first Volvo to be built on a new platform that has one primary fixed point and can be stretched to fit different models. Single-minded focus makes for better engineering, and it shows. There are lots of lightweight suspension components, and clever use of different-strength steels to achieve a kerb weight 125 kg lighter than the last XC90 − but still just under two tonnes in total.

– The rear suspension uses a composite leaf-type spring to reduce intrusion to the interior. Top models feature active air-suspension. Handling is safe-ashouses, and largely lean-free and cosseting, as one expects. Volvo calls this “relaxed confidence”.

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