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by Daniel DeGasperi

Development of the new-generation Volvo XC90 never set out to beat a Porsche Cayenne for handling, making a hotter Polestar-tuned version of the large premium SUV all but off the cards.

Speaking at the Paris motor show, Volvo senior vice president Lex Kerssemakers said that despite many manufacturers using the Cayenne as a dynamic benchmark, the Swedish company never set out to match it.

The all-new Volvo XC90 R-Design

“You need to have a certain level of dynamism in this segment to be competitive,” began Kerssemakers.

“We want to be competitive, but we don’t want to be leading in it, we will be extremely competitive, but that’s it.

The all-new Volvo XC90 R-Design

“From a dynamic perspective, our car is good, but you know … we don’t want to make the ultimate racing car with an SUV. We want to make a car which is very safe to drive, which is very intuitive … and which should [be] very comfortable.”

It’s the XC90 R-Design with its sports chassis that will best tackle the BMW X5 for handling, if not the Cayenne, Kerssemakers argued.

“I think the dynamics of the X5 we can eventually beat, but it’s not our unique selling proposition,” he said.

“Drive an X5 and drive this car, and I think you will be astonished, but we definitely don’t want to make a Porsche Cayenne.


“The R-Design will have a sports chassis, but that’s not our ultimate goal. Our goal is to be a Volvo. You need to have a good car to drive because that’s a requisite for the segment, but for us it’s not a differentiator.”

He lists as differentiators the ability of the plug-in hybrid version of the Volvo XC90 as being fast and frugal at a time when only Porsche has released a plug-in version of its rival SUV.

“What makes this the biggest differentiator for this car now is 600 Newton metres, 400 horsepowers, 60 grams Co2 – nobody in the automotive industry gets close,” he argued.

“And the Australians which don’t give a shit about Co2 but they care about 600Nm, they care about 400 horsepowers, and the majority of XC90s is seven seats – that’s what makes this car fly in Australia.”

The all-new Volvo XC90 R-Design

To the possibility of sacrificing ride comfort for extra dynamic prowess, the vice president simply returns serve with “no” but he also wants the media to avoid placing the XC90 into a negative light because of this view.

“Be careful … you [journalists] put us in boxes and I don’t want to be there,” Kerssemakers lightheartedly asserted.

“This is not the lame duck. If you drive this car and drive the X5 – not the M Sport but the normal versions – you will find that this is on par.

“It’s not dull to drive at all, but it’s not the ultimate racing machine.”