9 things you need to know about the Volvo V90 Cross Country T5

BY Joel Tam

Estates are synonymous with the Volvo brand, so this rugged version of the S90 is a welcomed model in the line-up. We’ve broken down our recent drive in a V90 Cross Country into nine simple points

Photos Daniel Koh

Volvo has recently enjoyed some increased market share with its new S90. Choosing to boldly go head-on with the Germans, the new sedan packs some cool features that have won some buyers over. While it is still a few steps behind when it comes to a robust fit and finish of say, an Audi A6, the Swedes are definitely catching up. Let's see how their handsome and sleek newcomer in the off-road estate segment matches up.

It’s good-looking. Yes, on the note of being handsome and sleek, the beefier V90 has chiselled looks that are well-proportioned without being overly flashy. The lovely hammer-shaped LED headlamps and matte black fender linings all add to the subtle yet aggressive presence of the car.

It’s big. But it ain’t bigger than the sedan. In fact, it’s smaller by about an inch in length, but it is taller by almost 10 cm. Width and wheelbase remain the same as the sedan at 2019 mm and 2941 mm respectively.

It’s tech savvy. Loaded with new features, our V90 Cross Country came with Pilot Assist, which helps the driver steer the car if it senses that the car is deviating from the given lane markings. It works up to a rather high speed of 130 km/h too! Also part of Volvo's IntelliSafe Assist package, is a very effective Adaptive Cruise Control that applies the brakes as you come close to the car in front of you and accelerates as the space opens up. Coupled with the Pilot Assist, it is possible to have a semi-autonomous driving experience in this car!

It’s got a chic interior. Warm vibes abound in this model’s cabin. With a rich tan shade of brown for the leather used, and a good dose of soft black materials and aluminium trimmings, the interior welcomes the driver into a place of understated elegance. But the knurled silver switchgear feels more plasticky than they look though, and the huge iPad-like centre control panel (which is well-designed and has nice fonts) takes some getting used to. Like I-need-to-stop-by-the-roadside-to-figure-this-out kind of getting used. But yes, it’s nice once you’ve got it.

It’s quite capable off-road. The v90 Cross Country has extra ride height and a pretty robust suspension setup. The car is also equipped with an Off-road mode, which we had a chance to try out in this super-secret location that we took it out on. Despite the loose gravel and wet surface, the car performed admirably - keeping all three occupants in the car comfy and very much impressed.

It’s not fast. Nope. Despite what the figures suggest, the turbocharged 2.0-litre engine that pushes out a considerable 254bhp and 350Nm of torque does not seem enough for the car. Floor the accelerator hard in the standard Comfort setting and the estate feels strained - select Dynamic in the drive mode and the difference is not evident enough to warrant the change either. So it’s no tarmac burner, but I guess it was never meant to be. That said, the last few turbocharged Volvos I drove had some serious punch though, so I kinda miss that.

It has a faster sibling. So if 254 bhp and 0-100km/h in 7.4 seconds is not quite enough for you (it clearly isn't for me), one can opt to indent a T6 version with 320 bhp and 400 Nm of torque. Yup, I think that would do just fine.

It’s got some serious space. Although you don’t quite notice it at first. Maybe it’s because the sheer length of the car sets up some expectations. Passengers sit rather low though, but the legroom is generous and the rear boot space is more than enough at 590 litres. Fold the rear seats down and that figure goes up to 1,526 litres.

It’s not cheap. At around $230,000 (depending on COE), the Audi A6 Avant (non-quattro) comes as a close competitor. The German offers better all round build quality and a slightly more desirable badge (ok, that’s subjective). But the Swede packs better value with all the new tech, cool lifestyle offerings and stylish Scandinavian design. That to me seems like a better deal for sure. Now if only it had more power.