Volvo XC90 V8 Review
A new lease of (V8) life

Story and pictures by Azfar Hashim
16 Jan 2007

There’s an all-new engine line up, and a little nip and tuck for this Swedish SUV. Splendid…

An old college mate of mine used to have the phrase “too much power is never enough!” scrawled on the front of his drawing pad. God knows why he did that, but the engineers over at Volvo must have had the same phrase in mind when they launched the updated XC90 with a 4.4 litre V8 engine.

Claimed maximum power for this XC90 V8 is 315bhp @ 5850rpm and maximum torque is 440Nm @ 3900rpm. By SUV standards, these are serious numbers in any language.

Other changes to arrive with the XC90’s front include a new headlamp cluster with standard Active Bi-Xenon Lights and a redesigned air-intake outlet for the front bumper. At the back, the tail lamps have been reworked – gone are the bubble-shaped reverse and signal lights, which is now repositioned at the bottom row of the XC90’s signature L-shape tail lamp. The rear bumper also comes with skid-plates now, and it does an excellent job of showing off the twin-pipe exhaust tip.

Other conspicuous additions include side-mirrors that come with signal indicators, and roof rails that are replaced with silver-coloured ones – those “boring black thing on the roof” are gone.

How does it go?
Obviously, the XC90 V8 offers impressive performance. It will accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in around 7.3 seconds and continue rapidly beyond the legal speed limit. But it makes its best power high in the rev range and doesn’t really get going until the tacho needle arcs its way past the 3500rpm mark.

The 6-speed auto does a good job of handling the V8’s torque-rich heart. Besides being such a smooth shifter through the ratios, the auto transmission also kicks down quickly when the throttle is opened. Power is constantly on demand, and the engine note is so edgy, it makes the driver want to floor the accelerator more often. I lately find myself disliking with increasing passion any kind of automatic or sequential transmission, so take this praise as the best it gets.

Getting power to the ground isn’t a problem, all thanks to the XC90’s Dynamic Stability and Traction Control. Although the slightly firm suspension with Roll Stability Control does a commendable job of controlling body roll and the sticky 235/60 R-18 Continental rubbers offer plenty of grip, the XC90 can feel a little nervous through long corners. Surprisingly, the steering is nicely weighted, and offers decent feedback to the driver. Keeping in mind the XC90 V8’s speed capability and 2177kg kerb weight, the brakes offer a good amount of bite.

Ride quality is good and road noise insulation is improved. What is intrusive though, is the wind noise that welcomes itself past three-digit speeds.

Sum up
It all comes at a price - the XC90 V8 leaves the showroom for $243k. But if you were to see it in a different light, the pricing of the XC90 V8 undercuts most of its rivals. Let’s see - for $243k, you get a roaring V8 engine, solid build quality, marvellous fit and finishing, and an easy SUV to slide into and out of, making city-bound errands a chiropractic breeze.

Also, you still get Volvo’s impeccable warranty, which makes this premium SUV a practical and economical purchase, and the overall impression is one of quality and efficiency.

It will be fun to take four adults, two kids and plenty of luggage up North in the XC90. Heck, with a car like this, the road trip will be so often, you’ll be able to boast to everyone you’ve been around the whole of Malaysia in no time.

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