We’ve seen that estates, or station wagons as they’re also referred to, haven’t done too well in the Indian market over the last few decades. However, Volvo is willing to bet that Indian buyers’ tastes have evolved and that things have changed. Hence, there’s the new Volvo V90 Cross Country, which the company has launched in just one variant – D5 Inscription. Volvo said the V90 Cross Country is the model that will complete its ‘90’ model cluster in India, and is placed between the XC90 luxury SUV and the S90 luxury sedan.
The V90 is claimed to offer the luxury and comfort of a sedan, with the driving capabilities of an SUV. We drove the Volvo V90 Cross Country along the Western Ghats from Mangalore to Coorg, in Karnataka, and focus here on the technological features of this segment-creator.
The Volvo V90 Cross Country is offered with a 1,969 cc, D5 diesel engine that develops 235 hp and 480 Nm of torque. The engine is mated to an eight-speed Geartronic automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle gear-shifters, with All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) technology that distributes power to all four wheels. While in normal conditions, the power supply is biased towards the front wheels, the degree of power distributed to the rear wheels increases when there is an increased need for traction at the rear.
The D5 diesel engine features Volvo’s Power Pulse technology, which is a solution designed to reduce turbo lag by delivering instant response, which can be realised through the four driving modes – Eco, Comfort, Rough Road and Dynamic. Power Pulse technology features the addition of an electrically-driven compressor and a pressured air tank to the powertrain. Fresh air is taken from the air filter, which is then compressed and stored in the pressurised tank. When the driver accelerates hard, compressed air is released from the tank into the exhaust manifold, thereby feeding the turbo and creating faster spool up. This enables the engine to provide instant power on demand without any trace of turbo lag. Also, the air in the pressurised tank is topped up automatically, ensuring that Power Pulse is always ready to deliver a new boost. This technology is said to not compromise on the Drive E efficiency of the engine.
The V90 Cross Country, like all other Volvo vehicles, comes with a high level of safety and drive assistance systems. Standard safety equipment come in the form of multiple airbags, whiplash protection for front seats, pyrotechnical pretensioners for front and rear in all positions, and ISOFIX child seat child seat mounts. The company also offers a number of safety systems based on radar technology. Some of the safety and driver aid technologies in the V90 Cross Country could be pinned with the ‘semi-autonomous’ tag. This is because it allows the car to drive and adapt to its surrounding, with timely assistance and inputs from the driver.
The radar-based safety systems in the V90 Cross Country include distance alerts, adaptive cruise control, and City Safety with automatic braking for cars, pedestrians, cyclists and large animals. The car is also equipped with also comes with lane assist, park assist with rear camera, Emergency Brake Assist, Intelligent Driver Information System, full LED active high beam and Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). The distance alert works accurately, in relevance to the vehicle speed, as well as the speed of the vehicle travelling ahead. The distance alert feature is most useful when driving in a single line of traffic, which is usually the case with highway driving. But within city limits, the proximity sensors could prove to be annoying when vehicles of various shapes and sizes come close to the sides of the car, which is the scenario in most Indian cities.
In terms of the automatic braking and lane departure warning, these systems work well, although they are not consistent in warning and alerting the driver. There were times when the system seemed to kick in these alerts when not really required, and at other instances failed to come into effect when expected. This could be the result of a combination of inconsistency in the lane marking on our roads, along with limitations of the radar’s field of view to obstacles directly ahead.
The Volvo V90 Cross Country also comes with a graphical Head-Up Display (HUD), which can provide information regarding speed, navigation, road signs, tolls and alerts. The HUD is very useful since it provides only relevant information at any given time, without distracting the driver. While speed is the only constantly appearing information, all other alerts appear only when there is a need for the driver to pay attention to specific information.
The car is fitted with a range of convenience features, which could also be considered as safety equipment. The key ones are the power tailgate with hands-free opening and closing, hill-start assist, rain sensor and automatic headlamps. The power tailgate opens with a swaying motion of the feet towards the left-side of the rear of the car, along with a button on the hatch to close it. Hill-start assist keeps the car from rolling backwards when stopped at an incline, but unlike a number of other vehicles that have this function working for a few seconds, here it remains active until the vehicle moves forward. The rain sensor in the V90 Cross Country works very accurately, with the system even having the option of setting the wiper to work according to the intensity of rain droplets on the windscreen. Same is the case with the automatic headlamps, which shifts between low and high beams, as well as levels out the light beam on to the road with precision and speed.
ARCHITECTURE, DRIVING CAPABILITY
The V90 Cross Country is based on Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform, which is a highly-flexible vehicle architecture that combines enhanced safety and lightweighting. The SPA platform, on which all new models of Volvo cars are being based on, features a strong passenger compartment that uses a high percentage of ultra-high-strength boron steel to create a protective cage.
The Volvo V90 Cross Country has adequate power and torque being delivered from its engine, which is the same that also powers the XC90 SUV. The highlight of the V90 Cross Country, which especially differentiates it from its sedan sibling, is the ‘Rough Road’ driving mode and its higher ground clearance. This driving mode makes light off-roading fairly simple and safe by increasing the ride height of the car by a few centimetres, as well as altering the steering, acceleration and transmission dynamics. Ride height adjustments are made by the car according to the various driving modes, as a result of the air suspension that the car is equipped with at the rear.
The interior of the V90 Cross Country is similar to that of the XC90 luxury SUV. The nine-inch touch screen infotainment system on the centre console is carried over from the car’s ‘90’ models series and continues to feature navigation, multimedia entertainment, mobile phone connectivity, and multiple other vehicle data and statistics information. The system also comes with a Bowers and Wilkins, 19-speaker Dolby Pro Logic II surround audio system, which is one of the best audio systems in the industry at present. The car comes with seats wrapped in Nappa leather, with front seats featuring full-electric settings for cushion extension, lumbar support, temperature setting and the massage function.
The Volvo V90 Cross Country is definitely a Volvo in every sense of the word, from the high level of luxury offered inside the vehicle, down to safety and assistance systems. Now, Volvo is hoping to carve a new luxury segment in the Indian car market and its price of ` 60 lakh, ex-showroom, may very well help the company achieve this. The V90 Cross Country is definitely more than just an S90 station wagon with jacked up ground clearance and a more powerful engine. There is no reason why the V90 Cross Country cannot be used as a city car during the week, with some soft-roading adventure trips on the weekend, and all that in the lap of luxury. This is achieved by the use of sheer technology, with which Volvo has set an example with this cutting-edge vehicle.
TEXT: Naveen Arul