Volvo XC90, the model-car
Volvo has set a goal: no driver or person riding an automobile they produce after 2020 shall die in a car accident. Is this a SF scenario? By no means. The new XC90 proves the determination of the Scandinavian manufacturer in pursuing this target. And that is not all it does.
At the end of the decade, right after Volvo was taken over by the Chinese company Geely, the Swedish car producer wanted to assure the public that the brand`s values shall not be in any way altered. A truly brave commitment was taken right away. No driver or passenger riding an automobile produced by Volvo after the year 2020 shall die in a car accident.
Perhaps it sounded too much as a science fiction scenario so one of the Scandinavian managers exercised his literary skills in the attempt to express the technological undertaking and made a parallel with a strong rustic air. “The car of the future shall behave as a horse drawing a carriage. The farmer controls the bridles, but, if he falls asleep, the animal knows how to get home on his own. Similarly, if the farmer tries to direct the horse into a tree or a gulch, the animal shall refuse to comply.”
While it was not directly mentioned, the total autonomous car seems to be the right target of the Goteborg manufacturer. This is no surprise because the entire car industry (and not only, check Google`s similar project) focuses more and more on this particular goal. Of course there are some phases to go through until reaching this moment that shall revolutionize road transport. For Volvo, one of these phases represents the launch of the new XC90, an emblematic model for the Swedish brand.
The second generation of the great Scandinavian SUV, presented last fall at the Paris Auto Show, is the first model produced by Volvo after the 2010 purchase that brought in a major shareholder from the Republic of China. At the same time, the XC90 marks the debut of a five years plan supported by massive investments of approximately 11 billion Euros; the plan sets out to produce eight completely new models, but also to strengthen the brand by a series of measures emphasizing the Scandinavian identity and increasing customer satisfaction.
All the Volvo stores shall begin a program to re-organize and standardize to the smallest details. Some examples: the showrooms will play audio tracks with Sweden`s specific sounds and the glasses offered to the guests are produced in the mother-country. Moreover, starting with 2018, each client shall be designated with a technician who handles the car brought in for check-ups and repair works, during the entire period that the car is being used.
The new VX90 displays an elegant, cared for and uniform design; it has no whims and conveys a much expected freshness. An experienced eye can identify certain similarities with other models from the same class – especially the profile reminds us of the current BMX X5, – but this is already a recurrent theme of the contemporary auto industry.
What is truly remarkable can be found in the few esthetic surprises – some striking, others more discrete – suggested by the team that designed the new model. On the exterior we have the T-shaped day headlamps, nicknamed “Thor`s hammer” – an obvious indication to the Nordic mythology. Inside there are few miniature Swedish flags, proudly attached to the chairs` seams. In this same area, on the seat belts` buckle it is written: 1959 – that is the year when the engineer Nils Bohlin came up with the first major innovation in Volvo`s history, the 3-point seat belt.
Betting on safety
The new XC90 honors the Scandinavian long tradition of car safety innovations with a few systems that are integrated for the first time in the world in a series automobile. The first one of these systems is a development of the classic”Pedestrian Detection”, included in the “City Safety” package. With its aid, the Volvo SUV can “see” pedestrians during night time and it is “programmed” to automatically brake when it identifies an immediate impact with them.
The second innovation, “Road Edge and Barrier Detection with Steer Assist” (REBDSA), detects through the video cameras installed in the dashboard whenever the car tends to go off the driving lane and discreetly steers the wheels in order to maintain the correct direction. A third function – one that reminds us that we are closer than we may think from the moment when cars shall no longer need drivers – automatically brakes when the car does not give way to the vehicle coming from the front when making a left turn.
The power of the Internet
Regardless of the amazing safety systems provided, the new XC90 obviously needs other strong points in order to convince a client who could very well choose an Audi Q9, a BMW X5 or a Mercedes-Benz M Class. That is exactly the reason why Volvo has given to its great SUV the most luxurious passenger compartment ever made. As one of its creators stated – the car`s interior radiates “the sophistication and the formalism expected by the fans of the luxury class”.
Beyond the materials and the top manufacturing, the main point of interest is the tablet look alike heavy touch screen console – the interface of a multimedia system that no longer has classical commands and can grant access to a multitude of products and services provided by the integrated Internet connection.
Care for the environment
A surprising fact for this “mastodon” having almost 5 meters and weighing approx. two tones is that the XC90 has given up on all the engines over four cylinders. Wanting to become the SUV with the smallest consumption on the market – hence, the least polluting model of its class – the new Volvo has limited to cylinders of 2.000 cube meters. Both the gas model and the diesel one are over-fueled and programmed to deliver between 190 and 400 horse power.
The top model – the T8 TwinEngine – is another novelty in the XC90 class. We are talking about a hybrid system, with a heating engine that sets the front wheels in motion and an electric unite that moves the back bridge. The storage battery can be recharged into any domestic fuse and provides maximum 40 kilometers autonomy for the 100% electric driving mode. And, if this performance is not meant to impress, the next one will certainly amaze you: Volvo claims that its hybrid SUV shall leak, on average, only 60 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer – that is less than most majority of the mini class models that are currently on the market