Volvo XC90 T6 SE
Volvo XC90

How It Drove - Performance

The Volvo XC90 T6 SE is powered by a 2.9 litre petrol, 6-cylinder twin turbo engine, which produces 272 bhp enabling it to accelerate from 0-62 mph in 9.3 seconds and continue to a top speed of 130 mph - not bad for a 4x4 that has a kerb weight of just over two tons.

The engine power band cuts in at around 1800 rpm and pulls well through the rev range, right up to 5000 rpm. We found the engine to be relatively refined and well suited to the 4-speed Geartronic transmission. Under acceleration, the engine has a good grunt noise to it; otherwise, engine noise is not intrusive. Occasionally when pulling out of road junctions into fast flowing traffic we did find a slight hesitation in acceleration before the power cut in but this is a characteristic of turbo charged engines.

Fuel consumption is the Achilles heel of the XC90 T6 and at one point accelerating up a hill in Ireland, the trip computer reported that we were achieving 1.1 miles to the gallon, ouch! On average, on a tour of Ireland, we achieved 20 mpg and we are relatively light footed drivers. Unlike some manufacturer’s, Volvo's quoted fuel consumption figures seemed fairly accurate and of course there is a 2.4 diesel engine should fuel consumption be of paramount importance to you. The diesel engine on average achieves around 12 mpg more than the T6 petrol’s combined figure. Fuel consumption is on par with the XC90’s rivals, with BMW’s X5 3-litre petrol engine quoting a similar combined consumption figure.

We particularly liked the T6’s standard 4-speed Geartronic automatic gearbox, it worked well with our normally laid-back attitude to touring, but when we needed to press on, it did its job admirably. Although we would prefer to see the 6-speed Geartronic box that is used in conjunction with the V8 engine in the USA.

In automatic mode, the gearbox adapts to your driving style and maps the gear change to your input. The gearbox is ideal for towing and would be great at pulling your boat or trailer up a slippery slipway.

In manual mode the Geartronic gearbox allows you to select the gears you want, when you want them. By knocking the gear lever over to the left, whilst in drive, you can then manually change gear. Knock the lever forward to change up and backwards to change down, simple but effective. To be honest we left the gearbox in automatic mode, except when descending some steep off road tracks and when covering some more interesting Irish 'B' roads, and then it was more for fun rather than necessity. Nevertheless, it does give the option to change gear when you want to and it works very well.

How It Drove - Ride and Handling

The main difference that you notice when driving the XC90 over a conventional car is that the centre of gravity has moved upwards. Which in turn means that it does not handle like the HondaS2000 we had been driving the week before. Body roll was certainly noticeable, rather more so than the BMW X5, which we consider to be the benchmark of SUV handling.

After a day or two, we got into the swing of things, and adapted to the XC90. The steering is well weighted and actual physical grip is remarkably good. The steering is speed sensitive and is well matched to your driving speed. When parking the steering lightens up and then becomes progressively weighted as road speed increases, offering more feedback.

The ride is composed and even the infamous Irish roads which can go from good to bad in little over a mile couldn't unsettle it.

The XC90 benefits from load compensating suspension, which automatically adjusts the shock absorbers when driving with heavy loads or when towing. This maintains the car at the same level and ground clearance whatever the load and aids with road holding.

One important ingredient in the recipe for safe driving pleasure in the Volvo XC90 is its electronic AWD (all wheel drive or if you prefer 4 wheel drive) system, developed in close cooperation with one of the foremost experts in this area - Haldex of Sweden.

Volvo XC90 Review | Part Three
Volvo XC90 News

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