Auto Review: 2017 Volvo XC90 T8 R-Design

DESIGNED with a sporty performance look and feel inside and out, the 2017 Volvo XC90 T8 R-Design is big, stylish, and nothing short of powerful.

What sets Volvo’s XC90 R-Design apart from not only the other models within the range, but its competitors as well, is the significant step up in power.

We’re talking 300kW of power from the supercharged and turbocharged Drive-E T8 twin engine system, (with a 235kW 2-litre petrol engine coupled with a 65kW electric motor) and 640Nm of torque here, and that makes it more powerful than a V8 SS Commodore (or even a Porsche Cayenne GTS).

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The combo supports three different modes, Pure (an all electric option that the vehicle electronics help charge during braking and deceleration), Hybrid (that delivers 2.1L/100km performance, providing of course the battery side is fully charged) and Power (which you guessed it, gives you the whole box and dice – and mid to high 6L/100km or worse – still good by comparison).

We have to say with all that power (zero-100km/h in 5.6 seconds), and the technology development that a car maker like Volvo offers, we expected the power delivery and acceleration to be cleaner, more seamless. It’s not.

Feeding on the power, especially if you need to overtake, can feel underdone and sloppy. The power is there, sure, but it seems like the XC90 doesn’t want to let you play with it, at least not when it’s under pressure. For power delivery, when comparing apples with apples, something like the BMW X5 xDrive40e or the Lexus RX 450h provides a better drive experience for a performance hybrid.

Inside the 7-seater though, there’s luxury aplenty, as you would expect from Volvo in its premium 4WD SUV offering. For example, the XC90 T8 R-Design features a total of 64 different seating combinations (yes we’re not kidding).

The audio system features AM/FM radio, MP3, 330W to 10 speakers, 9-inch vertical touch screen centre display, Bluetooth (inc. audio streaming), USB, AUX and full iPod connectivity, audio controls in steering wheel, internet connectivity and in-car web apps; and the Sensus navigation system with voice control (we struggled to get the voice system to play the way we wanted to).

The 12.3-inch digital driver display is clear and concise, and the auto-dimming interior and exterior rear view mirrors are a treat for night time driving and anti-glare. There’s power adjustable R-Design contour seats in perforated Nappa leather upholstery, carbon fibre decor inlays, illuminated R-Design tread plates and carpet, exclusive R-Design pedals, and four zone climate control.

Safety wise, Volvo’s regard for its passengers is nothing short of exceptional. The list of safety and security features is absolutely astounding and includes pedestrian, vehicle, large animals and cyclist detection, intersection collision mitigation and brake support, adaptive cruise control with pilot assist (semi-autonomous driving), and collision warning with full auto brake with queue assist.

You’ll also find a lane keeping aid, distance alert, speed limiter, blind spot information system, cross traffic alert system, rear collision warning system, emergency brake assist, multiple airbags and side impact protection (with airbags in the front seats), inflatable curtains and a whiplash protection system.

Add in the intelligent driver information system, 360-degree camera system (you’ll have to buy the Technology Pack for this one), hill start assist, part assist, front and rear parking sensors, an auto open and close tailgate, integrated booster seats in the second row of seating, and you’ve pretty much rounded out the long list of safety features.

Step outside, and you’ll find the sleek R-Design black front grille, puddle lights, a roof spoiler, sunroof, Hammer of Thor LED active bending headlights with active high beam and a headlight wash system (yes they really are called Hammer of Thor LED headlights), and fog lights built into the front spoiler.

The 2017 Volvo XC90 T8 R-Design comes in nine fashion colours, including Crystal White Pearl (as tested), Passion Red, Ice White, Electric Silver Metallic, Savile Silver Metallic, Bright Silver Metallic, Osmium Grey Metallic, Onyx Black Metallic and Bursting Blue Metallic.

There’s a raft of other options too, including two wheel choices, three upholstery options, and two steering wheel options. You’ll also love the glass gear shift knob (yes it’s see-through, and looks awesome).

Our test car was fitted with the Technology Pack (HUD, 360-degree parking camera, digital radio, and smartphone integration with a USB HUB), and had metallic paint and heated front seats added. It hits the road at $128,450 (plus on-roads), and the price of purchase includes a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, and three years road side assistance.

Our 2017 Volvo XC90 T8 R-Design was provided by Volvo Cars Australia. To find out more, contact your local Volvo Cars Australia dealer. Pictures courtesy of Rhys Vandersyde and InSyde Media.

Mark Holgate
Mark Holgate
A journalist with more than 24 years experience, Mark Holgate has worked with a number of regional, suburban and metropolitan newspapers, as well as stints with motoring specific publications like Which Car? Motorsport News, Auto Action and Street Machine. He is also a contributor to DriveTribe.


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