A mere 10 hours before the global embargo was set to expire—at midnight, local time, in the Swedish capital where the new model was to be launched—images of the much teased, second-generation Volvo XC90 were let loose after an earlier wave of journalists visited the top-secret location at Artipelag, an artistic centre on the Stockholm Archipelago.
To be sure, a scintillating level of corporate espionage was at work here, but it’s only marginally too dramatic for this vehicle, which bears the hopes of an entire company - and, indeed, an entire country - on its sizeable shoulders. Sure, this last statement may be a bit over the top, but one thing’s for certain: if the Volvo XC90 is not a roaring success around the world, the Swedish manufacturer faces an uphill road.
Here’s what we can report: next Thursday, September 4 at midnight local time, Australians will have the chance to place their order for the Volvo XC90 First Edition exclusively through the company’s online portal at volvocars.com.
CarAdvice has contacted Volvo Cars Australia to gain further information on the vehicles that will be available to local buyers, as it is believed that engine and drivetrain specifications may differ between markets for the Launch Edition variants.
There will be only 1927 versions of the First Edition made available in total, and Volvo executives expect demand for the fully loaded special to be sky-high. (The company was founded in 1927; thus, the specific allocation of volume for this limited-edition run.)
In all markets, the First Edition, pictured above, will be available only in one colour (Onyx Black) and will feature 21-inch alloy wheels. The passenger cabin will be decked out in amber-coloured Nappa leather seats and charcoal-coloured dashboard with walnut inlays. Each of the limited-edition models will also feature a uniquely numbered tread plate and rear badge.
The interior of the new XC90 is a revelation in terms of look, feel and impact—the tablet-sized touchscreen enables the driving environment to have a minimalist vibe, while the materials used are clearly intended to raise the stakes in the premium SUV segment. Other notable touches include the optional crystal shift lever by Swedish glassmaker Orrefors, diamond-cut start/stop and volume control buttons, and a 1400-watt audio system from Bowers & Wilkins.
The First Edition will be joined in the XC90 line-up by a slate of models, all featuring 2.0-litre 4-cylinder Drive-E engines: the petrol-powered T5 and T6, the diesel-powered D4 and D5, and the T8, also known as the XC90 Twin Engine.
The Twin Engine combines the 2.0-litre 4-cylinder supercharged and turbocharged gasoline engine from the T6 with an electric motor to create a plug-in hybrid SUV with some fairly stunning performance targets - namely, 294kW and more than 600Nm of torque combined with CO2 emissions of only 60 g/km (NEDC driving cycle). When the XC90 Twin Engine appears on the market, it will become the world’s first seven-seat plug-in hybrid vehicle.
The other engines include the T5 diesel with its 170kW of power and 470Nm of torque, while the D4 diesel has a single turbocharger and pumps out 142kW and 400Nm. Petrol engines for the XC90 include the turbocharged and supercharged T6 petrol that will be offered in some examples of the Launch Edition, which churns out 240kW and 400Nm, while the T5 turbo petrol has 190kW and 350Nm.
From a design perspective, the new XC90 bears some resemblance to current competitors in the SUV segment, including the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne. The big difference, though, is the bold, stand-up front grille, which possesses a level of bravado nearly on par with Rolls-Royce. Within that grille is the new, larger Volvo iron mark logo; framing this picture are the T-shaped “Thor’s Hammer” daytime running lights. The net effect is powerful.
As expected from Volvo, the new XC90 will set the pace for the company in terms of active safety. The vehicle will debut two world-firsts: a run-off road protection package tightens the front safety belts and triggers an energy-absorbing feature in the seats when dire circumstances are detected; and the auto-brake feature stops the vehicle when the driver mistakenly turns in front of an coming car.
Volvo is counting on the XC90 to send the company into a prosperous new direction. Global sales are expected to surpass 50,000 in the first year of partial production and 80,000 annually in 2016.
“This is one of the most important days in our history,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and CEO of Volvo Car Group. “We are not just launching a car, but relaunching our brand. This day marks a new era for our company. The XC90 paves the way for a portfolio of exciting new cars to come in the following years.”