Estates or station wagons have never been popular in India since SUVs offer the same utility along with a more desirable shape and rough-road ability. So if an estate is to sell here, it has to offer something special. Audi took the high-performance route with its RS6 Avant, and Volvo will soon bring in its rugged V90 Cross Country.
The Volvo V90 is the estate version of the brilliant S90 sedan, while the V90 Cross Country is the V90’s more rugged alter ego—it’s a tougher car in the true sense of the word. The body of the standard V90 has been re-engineered, with ground clearance raised by 60mm to an SUV-baiting 210mm. All-wheel drive is standard and comes with an off-road mode built in, and, with adaptive air suspension, the Cross Country is more akin to the XC90 SUV than the S90.
It’s quite a looker too, enhancing the S90’s cool restraint with rugged bits. First off, the shape isn’t boxy like typical estates. It has a sloping rear windscreen and the haunches curve out nicely beneath the signature Volvo LED tail lamps. The “toughened up" front and rear bumpers, the black cladding that runs around the car, and the big, chunky alloy wheels add to the car’s SUV appeal.
It’s based on the Volvo S90 sedan. And what you get when you step inside is pretty incredible. In fact, the two cars are virtually identical from the dashboard till the rear seats. The dashboard design is clutter-free; taking centre stage here is the massive vertically oriented touchscreen, flanked by slim and upright air-con vents.
The front seats are superbly shaped and electrically adjustable. However, a few more adjustment options, such as something for squab length and to bolster thickness, wouldn’t have been amiss. The back seats are comfortable, with ample legroom and great overall support. Also, thanks to the lengthened roof, there is greater headroom.
Then, there’s every station wagon’s raison d’etre—the luggage area. With the second row of seats in place as standard, you get 560 litres of luggage space, and with it folded, 1,526 litres, so you will not be left wanting for space.
What’s nice is that the India-specifications V90 Cross Country will arrive with all the bells and every last whistle. This includes radar-based cruise control, which Volvo was able to activate in India on the XC90 after some previously restricted frequencies were opened for use by the government. Additionally, it will get features like a heads-up display, heated front seats, a massive panoramic sunroof and that incredible Bowers & Wilkins audio system.
The car will be available in India with a 235hp 2.0-litre diesel, and the first impression it makes is a good one. It may be heavier than the S90 but you hardly feel it, for the motor has ample pulling power. That said, it won’t thrill the enthusiast—the driving experience is quite a relaxed affair.
The raised ride height doesn’t compromise comfort, and that holds true even when you are driving over rough patches, thanks to the V90 Cross Country’s air suspension. However, there isn’t a raise/lower function, as there is in some other cars equipped with air suspension. Instead, the car chooses a preset ride height and firmness setting based on the mode you’re in—Eco, Rough Road, Comfort or Dynamic.
The V90 Cross Country will be in showrooms sometime in May or June, at an estimated price of Rs60-65 lakh (ex-showroom), which puts it right between the S90 and the XC90. It’s worth noting that Audi and Mercedes-Benz are also thinking of launching their own rugged estates, including the A6 AllRoad and the E-class All-Terrain, respectively. These will be direct rivals for the Volvo V90 Cross Country, and could also be launched in India before the end of 2017.
However, the simple answer to any question about whether the V90 Cross Country is worth buying, is a “yes", for this is a niche product. That’s because the V90 Cross Country takes all the nice bits from the majestic S90 and adds loads more practicality and near-SUV levels of go-anywhere ability into what is finally an estate car. Plus, aside from safety, estates are a big part of brand Volvo, and if that resonates even slightly with the small number of buyers Volvo is targeting with this car, they will be drawn to it and be very happy with what they get