To sit in Volvo’s flagship car is to be constantly reminded of the Scandinavian roots of this solid premium marque. Volvo first brought its massive seven-seater to market in 2002 and hasn’t looked back. Geely, Volvo’s Chinese owner, has, like Tata with JLR, cleverly left the brand alone to carry on doing what it does best: the two “S”s – Sweden and Safety, which pour from every vent. The latest generation arrived in the UK last year and immediately won Car of the Year from the mags. It manages to combine every strength from Volvo’s DNA: engineering that focuses on design and safety. A very clever package.
That huge, beaky front end has not been to everyone’s liking, but boy, does this car have presence on the road, with its massive 21in wheels and funky tail-lights. Our test car is black, with blacked-out privacy glass in the rear windows; it makes a real statement. Inside, the contrasting cream leather and pale wood is a dream combination (despite four boys doing their best to turn the cream into a sludge-brown), and the panoramic sunroof lets the light pour in.
The most outstanding aspect of this SUV is the interior space: with the third row of seats up, there is still room in the boot for a couple of small suitcases, and adults will find plenty of legroom no matter where they sit. Each seat in the second row moves individually and the middle seat turns into a booster seat for children. Typical Volvo design: clever, practical, smart and safe.
We love the contrast stitching on our black-and-cream steering wheel (heated, naturally), and the switchgear is still big, pleasing to touch and intuitive.
We tested the D5 diesel mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It’s not the fastest horse out of the block – it’s a seven-seat SUV for goodness sake, and a Volvo to boot – if you’re looking for a speed demon, you’re in the wrong place here. The brakes are impressive for such a heavy beast, and the engine develops 223bhp, which is sufficient for overtaking at will. Loaded up, the car doesn’t struggle. For extra oomph, you might want to look at the T8 plug-in hybrid option, which also seems to deliver better fuel economy, even without using electric-only mode – 35-40mpg as opposed to the 30mpg we’ve been getting from our D5.
The passions stems from the brand – you either love Volvos or you don’t get them; we absolutely love them for everything they stand for (see above). Where this car has won all the plaudits, attention and admiration, however, is in the advanced tech set-up it offers. A tablet-style huge touchscreen enables controls for temperature (swipe up), Apple CarPlay, swipe-and-pinch satnav, blind-spot system, collision-warning system, lane-departure warning system, self-park assist, cornering headlamps, active cruise control… we could quite easily continue. It’s a little bit of magic in a box.
Price as tested: £69,545