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Volvo's new subscription service takes leasing to the next level

Volvo’s new subscription service takes leasing to the next level

Volvo's new subscription service takes leasing to the next level

Forget traditional car leasing or PCPs – Volvo is launching a clever new 24-month ‘subscription service’ with its 2018 XC40 crossover.

Order a new Volvo XC40 online through its Care by Volvo scheme, and you’ll be able to drive the new model for a fixed monthly price without any extra fees: including tax and insurance. It goes a step further, too. Volvo will offer a range of digital concierge services, such as fuelling and cleaning. Details haven’t been confirmed yet, but expect to be able to arrange for someone to come and clean your car or refuel it at a touch of a button, presumably through a mobile phone or tablet app.

You’ll even be able to share the car with friends of family by sending them a virtual key. There’s a catch, though. In the UK, Care by Volvo will only be available within the M25 to start with. And the digital key isn’t available in the UK at all. It’s early days, but previews what’s possible in the future as the service is rolled out further afield.

“Our aim with Care by Volvo is to provide our customers with a transparent, premium car user experience,” said Car by Volvo vice president, Thomas Andersson. “With a fixed monthly payment, Volvo Cars provides a truly customer-focused alternative to the traditional purchase or leasing. Time is a luxury for our customers, and with this service we are able to free up time in their daily lives. This is simply making life easier for our customers.”

The new Volvo XC40, which has been revealed today, will cost £27,905 for buyers who do want to buy it outright. Monthly Care by Volvo rates are yet to be announced.

The service will be offered across other cars in Volvo’s range in the near future, including the new digital concierge services.

Volvo's new subscription service takes leasing to the next level

2018 Volvo XC40

New Volvo XC40 compact SUV revealed: prices from £27,905

2018 Volvo XC40The new Volvo XC40 is the Swedish brand’s entry into the booming compact SUV sector, currently dominated by the Audi Q3 and Range Rover Evoque. Built on an all-new platform called CMA (Compact Modular Architecture), it’s a city-focused machine that joins the hit XC60 and XC90 to further expand Volvo’s appealing SUV line.

Prices start from £27,905 and ordering is already open, with first deliveries expected early in 2018. Volvo’s not stopping there, either – it’s introducing a new ‘car subscription service’ lease offer called Care By Volvo, that will let you own a car on a fixed contract for a set monthly fee, as ‘hassle free as having a phone’. 

Volvo is so bullish about this new initiative, it believes it will ‘reinvent the traditional model of car ownership’. 

2018 Volvo XC40

Distinctively styled, the XC40 successfully carries through the show car styling seen on the 2016 Volvo 40.1 concept. Its rear C-pillar is very striking, and bold body creases give it a characterful look. Volvo’s also offering it with colour schemes never before seen from the Swedish brand – anyone for China blue with a white roof?

2018 Volvo XC40

Inside, Volvo’s latest premium interior layout, with its distinctive portrait-style infotainment screen, is enhanced by “a radically new approach to storage”. The door bins are more practical, there’s stowage space beneath the seats, a waste bin in the centre console, and fold-out hooks for bags. Volvo’s even carved out a space just for smartphones, which can be enhanced with inductive charging. 

“The XC40 is our first entry in the small SUV segment, broadening the appeal of the Volvo brand and moving it in a new direction, said Volvo Cars president and chief executive Hakan Samuelsson. “It represents a fresh, creative and distinctive new member of the Volvo line-up.”

Volvo XC40: engines 

2018 Volvo XC40

Volvo will launch the XC40 with five different engines, but all will be 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo motors. Three of then will be petrol – 156hp T3, 190hp T4 and 247hp T5 – and there’ll be two turbodiesels: 150hp D3 and 190hp D4. 

The T3 comes with front-wheel drive only. The D3 has a choice of front- or all-wheel drive; T4, T5 and D4 are all-wheel-drive only. You can have either manual or automatic gearboxes on lower-powered engines, while the more potent ones are all automatic.

What about hybrids? Nothing at launch, but expect them to follow later. The XC40 will also be the first Volvo to come with the firm’s new fuel-saving three-cylinder engines.

Volvo XC40: specification

2018 Volvo XC40

The XC40 is offered in a core three-trim lines in the UK: Momentum (entry-level), R-Design (sporty) and Inscription (posh). All are well equipped, coming with nine-inch Sensus touchscreen infotainment, sat nav, LED headlights, 12.3-inch TFT instrument display, dual-zone climate control with an air-cleansing ‘CleanZone’ filtration system, plus rear parking sensors and 18-inch alloys.

Volvo also fits City Safety autonomous emergency braking to all XC40, and its potentially life-saving Oncoming Lane Mitigation tech. This senses if you steer out of your lane and into the path of an oncoming vehicle, giving steering assistance to help you move out of danger.

Momentum models are the most ‘expressive’, says Volvo: you can have black or white alloy wheels, contrasting white roofs, even eye-catching textile and vinyl interior upholstery. We can’t help but love the orange carpet seen in the images…

The R-Design is marked out by gloss black for the grille, door mirrors and front and rear bumper sections, plus a black roof. You get dual exhaust pipes at the rear, sports suspension and diamond-cut alloy wheels. A racy interior reflects this, with perforated leather steering wheel, aluminium dash inlays and leather/Nubuck seats boasting cushion extensions (like you used to get in 1980s Ford Escort RS Turbos).

The lavish Inscription is so upmarket, automatic versions even have a crystal gear lever from Swedish glassmaker Orrefors. Upholstery is full leather, the interior is decked out with chrome highlights instead of gloss black, and the dash carries smart driftwood inlays.

Go Pro

2018 Volvo XC40

Buyers can also pick Pro versions of each trim line. A Momentum Pro costs £1,550 more and adds heated front seats, a powered driver’s seat, heated windscreen and active bending headlights that avoid dazzling other drivers.

R-Design Pro costs £1,900 extra and includes all the above, plus 20-inch alloys. Inscription Pro costs £1,550 and adds 19-inch alloys and a powered passenger seat.

Every XC40 can also be equipped with Volvo Pilot Assist semi-autonomous tech: at speeds of up to 80mph, it can steer the car within a lane and maintain a set distance from a car in front.  

Volvo XC40: prices

2018 Volvo XC40

A front-wheel-drive 2.0-litre turbo T3 Momentum XC40, with 156hp, costs £27,905. The entry-level 150hp D3 diesel is £28,965, or £30,405 if you want all-wheel drive. R-Design models are £1,850 more, with Inscription versions commanding a £2,500 premium over base Momentum.

The most expensive XC40s will be the launch-special First Edition variants, offered either as a 247hp T5 petrol or 190hp D4 diesel. Based on R-Design Pro models, they add a punchy 1,200W 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, power tailgate, heated rear seats, wireless smartphone charging, Pilot Assist and Volvo’s Xenium Pack which combines a panoramic glass sunroof with automatic parking and a 360-degree surround-view parking camera.

A T5 AWD First Edition is £40,355; the D4 AWD First Edition creeps under the £40k barrier, at £30,305.

XC40hpOn-the-road price
XC40 Momentum range  
T3 FWD Momentum156£27,905
T4 AWD Momentum automatic190£32,055
D3 FWD Momentum150£28,965
D3 FWD Momentum automatic150£30,555
D3 AWD Momentum150£30,405
D3 AWD Momentum automatic150£31,955
XC40 Momentum Pro range  
T3 FWD Momentum Pro156£29,455
T4 AWD Momentum Pro automatic190£33,605
D3 FWD Momentum Pro150£30,515
D3 FWD Momentum Pro automatic150£32,105
D3 AWD Momentum Pro150£31,955
D3 AWD Momentum Pro automatic150£33,505
XC40 R-Design range  
T3 FWD R-Design156£29,755
T4 AWD R-Design automatic190£33,905
T5 AWD R-Design automatic247£35,705
D3 FWD R-Design150£30,815
D3 FWD R-Design automatic150£32,405
D3 AWD R-Design150£32,255
D3 AWD R-Design automatic150£33,805
D4 AWD R-Design automatic190£34,655
XC40 R-Design Pro range  
T3 FWD R-Design Pro156£31,655
T4 AWD R-Design Pro automatic190£35,805
T5 AWD R-Design Pro automatic247£37,605
D3 FWD R-Design Pro150£32,715
D3 FWD R-Design Pro automatic150£34,305
D3 AWD R-Design Pro150£34,155
D3 AWD R-Design Pro automatic150£35,705
D4 AWD R-Design Pro automatic190£36,555
XC40 Inscription range  
T3 FWD Inscription156£30,405
T4 AWD Inscription automatic190£34,555
T5 AWD Inscription automatic247£36,355
D3 FWD Inscription150£31,465
D3 FWD Inscription automatic150£33,055
D3 AWD Inscription150£32,905
D3 AWD Inscription automatic150£34,455
D4 AWD Inscription automatic190£35,305
XC40 Inscription Pro range  
T3 FWD Inscription Pro156£31,955
T4 AWD Inscription Pro automatic190£36,105
T5 AWD Inscription Pro automatic247£37,905
D3 FWD Inscription Pro150£33,015
D3 FWD Inscription Pro automatic150£34,605
D3 AWD Inscription Pro150£34,455
D3 AWD Inscription Pro automatic150£36,005
D4 AWD Inscription Pro automatic190£36,855
XC40 First Edition range  
T5 AWD First Edition automatic247£40,355
D4 AWD First Edition automatic190£39,305

In pictures: new 2018 Volvo XC40

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Volvo ticked off for cyclist-saving 'LifePaint' advert

Volvo ticked off for cyclist-saving 'LifePaint' advert

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has given Volvo Cars a formal warning after it was decided that an advert for the firm’s glow in the dark paint was misleading.

Volvo’s LifePaint is a spray designed to increase visibility in the dark. The Swedish car manufacturer released a Youtube advert for the paint in December 2016, saying: “Road safety shouldn’t be for the few. It should be for everyone. The ones not driving our cars, and the ones who prefer two wheels to four.”


More on Motoring Research: 


A complainant said the advert, which also appeared on Volvo’s website, was misleading as the product couldn’t produce the effects shown.

The firm admitted that the LifePaint was primarily designed primarily for textiles. A different oil-based product produced by the same manufacturer, Albedo100, was used in the video as this worked better on metal surfaces such as bicycle frames.

Volvo said that LifePaint would have the same effect shown in the video, but it wouldn’t last as long as the product used. It added that it would add a disclaimer on the advert to make it clear that the product was primarily designed for use on dry textiles.

This didn’t satisfy the ASA however. The organisation upheld the complaint, saying: “The ASA considered that the average consumer would expect LifePaint to be able to produce a similar effect to that seen in the ads. The video gave equal prominence to the frames of the bicycles as it did to the clothing of the riders, and showed the product being sprayed on a bike frame, so we considered consumers would expect the product to work on both surface types.”

It concluded that the ad exaggerated the performance of LifePaint and was misleading, instructing Volvo not to show the advert again in its current form. At the time of writing, it remains on Youtube.

Exclusive: we drive a Volvo V90 police car

Volvo police carVolvo has form with police cars. Sure, your local bobby probably runs around in an Astra, while an unmarked BMW 5 Series is able to put the frights up any daring company car driver pounding up a motorway at 90mph. But the Swedish car firm has been making police cars since 1929 – and selling them to the British police since the 1960s.

Today, there are around 400 Volvo police cars on UK roads. The vast majority of these are V70 armed response vehicles or traffic cars. But, as the V70 is no longer produced, that could be about to change…

Volvo V90 police carVolvo V90 police car

Yes, say hello to the Volvo V90 police car. Here it is in Swedish livery, being tested on a frozen lake somewhere in the Northern Circle at a top secret military base. We say ‘tested’, that’s actually our man living out a childhood dream of driving a police car. On a frozen lake. Mostly sideways.

What’s the point of that?Volvo V90 police car

It’s not all in the name of fun and frolics. Honestly. Volvo’s test drivers spend at least 500 hours putting the latest police cars through their paces in hot and cold climates. The logic goes that if it can survive being driven hard in temperatures way below zero degrees, a pursuit through Bradford’s housing estates won’t phase it.

What’s under the bonnet?Volvo V90 police car

Under the bonnet of this V90 – and, indeed, all V90 police cars for now – is a standard four-cylinder D5 diesel engine. The twin-turbo unit produces 235hp and, before all the extra weight of the police equipment is added, propels the V90 to 62mph in 6.9 seconds.

What’s different, then?Volvo V90 police car

All Volvo V90 police cars are start off as standard cars, taken from the production line at the same point ordinary models are shipped off to dealers. But, rather than being loaded onto a transporter, police-cars-to-be are taken around the back of Volvo’s factory in Torslanda, near Gothenburg, and modified by the special vehicles division.

And what happens next?Volvo V90 police car

Here, a special team of converters spend around six days turning it into a cop car. A special boot frame is fitted to cope with all the gear carried by traffic officers (and prevent it flying forwards in the case of a rear-end shunt), while brakes are upgraded to help bring the heavyweight V90 to a stop. The suspension also gets upgraded, with a 300mm lift and firmer dampers. The wheels are replaced by XC90 alloys.

Is anything done in the UK?Volvo V90 police car

Once police cars arrive in the UK, they’re sent to one of a small number of specialist converters where the finishing touches are put in place. The correct radio is fitted, for example, while British ‘battenburg’ livery is applied to make it stand out.

Why are they so close to standard?Volvo V90 police car

Police cars are generally bought outright rather than leased, so police forces want to be able to get as much of their investment as possible back when it comes to resale time. As such, once you remove the kit fitted by Volvo’s special vehicles workshop, the V90 looks like pretty much any other model.

It looks rather luxurious insideVolvo V90 police car

Inside, it’s exactly as you’d expect a high-spec V90 to be. Leather seats are fitted (they wear better than cloth and are easy to wipe down), while the standard infotainment system is left in place (the aftermarket computer system that controls the blues and twos, as well as having its own sat-nav feature, is hinged to cover the standard system but can easily be lifted up).

Does it have holes in the roof?Volvo V90 police car

You used to be able to spot an ex-police car by holes in its roof where the lights were fitted. That’s not the case any more… everything is flush mounted, and cabling for the LED roof lights runs through the roof bars. All this helps when the police car has to be sold after retirement.

How long do forces keep police cars?Volvo V90 police car

Traditionally, forces would keep traffic cars for a maximum of three years and 100,000-150,000 miles. Now, budget cuts dictate that forces must keep hold of them for longer – as much as five years and several hundred thousand miles – so they need to be pretty robust.

How often are police cars serviced?Volvo V90 police car

Most police forces have their own workshop for routine servicing, which is carried out regularly, while some even invest in diagnostic equipment to enable more serious work to be carried out. Obviously, under routine police work the cars can be damaged fairly regularly – and for bodywork they’re usually returned to a local Volvo dealer.

What other challenges do forces face?Volvo V90 police car

Over the last eight or so years, all traffic cars have been diesel, with police forces keen to save money on fuel. As diesel becomes a naughty word and police need to be seen to be doing their bit, we could see a shift towards petrol or hybrid police cars. Indeed, with a plug-in hybrid T8 V90 on its way, it’d be fair to assume these might be pressed into police duty.

What about driverless tech?Volvo V90 police car

Volvo is big on autonomous technology, and safety systems such the firm’s City Safety automatic emergency braking could prove to be problematic. If a car will do everything in its power to prevent a collision, how do police carry out tactical stops that involve making contact with other vehicles? Fortunately, for now, the technology can be turned off…

And in the future?Volvo V90 police car

Who knows? Police cars are a tiny part of what Volvo does, so it won’t hold back on developing its driverless features for those rare occasions when traffic officers need to take control. Will we see driverless police cars? “Cars will outskill even police drivers,” Volvo’s special vehicles chief, Ulf Rydne, told us.

Will we see Volvo V90 police cars on UK roads?Volvo V90 police car

There are a few hoops Volvo has to jump through before we’ll see V90 police cars on the roads. It needs to be added to the Home Office framework, which means it’s approved for UK police forces. But as Swedish police have already tested the V90 and given it a 9.2/10 rating – higher than any other car ever – it’s unlikely that it won’t be approved in the UK. We ought to see V90 police cars patrolling our motorways by the end of 2017.

Volvo has been knocked off Sweden's best-selling car top spot

Volvo has been knocked off Sweden’s best-selling car top spot

Volvo has been knocked off Sweden's best-selling car top spot

The best-selling car in Sweden in 2016 was a Volkswagen Golf – the first time since 1962 that it wasn’t a Volvo.

That’s according to figures released today by the country’s carmakers association, Bil Sweden, which revealed that Volkswagen sold 22,084 Golf models, accounting for 5.93% of all new car sales in Sweden.

Despite grouping in the Volvo V70 and its V90 successor, along with the S90 saloon, just 21,321 models of Volvo’s biggest seller were registered.

The last time Volvo was not the best-selling car in Sweden was 1962, when a Volkswagen Beetle took number one spot.

As a company, Volvo registered more than 71,000 cars in Sweden last year – well ahead of Volkswagen’s 58,000, with four of its models dominating the top six.

A strong economy, combined with low interest rates and a growing private leasing market, is responsible for strong sales across the country, with 372,296 new cars registered last year – an increase of 7.8 percent compared with 2015.

Bil Sweden CEO Bertil Molden said: “We’ve had 36 months in succession with increasing registrations.”

 Make and model2016 sales2015 sales Percentage of all new car sales 
 Volkswagen Golf22,082 22,779 5.93%
 Volvo V70/S90/V9021,321  28,613  5.73%
 Volvo S60/V60 16,755 14,698 4.5%
 Volvo XC6016,266 14,834 4.37%
 Volkswagen Passat15,716  14,392  4.22% 
 Volvo V40 12,691 10,333 3.41% 
 Toyota Auris 7,423 6,868  1.99%
 Volkswagen Polo 7,091 4,585 1.9%
 Kia Cee’d 6,778 6,726 1.82%
 Skoda Octavia 5,889 5,519 1.58%
Volvo has been knocked off Sweden's best-selling car top spot

Volvo has been knocked off Sweden's best-selling car top spot

Volvo has been knocked off Sweden's best-selling car top spot

The best-selling car in Sweden in 2016 was a Volkswagen Golf – the first time since 1962 that it wasn’t a Volvo.

That’s according to figures released today by the country’s carmakers association, Bil Sweden, which revealed that Volkswagen sold 22,084 Golf models, accounting for 5.93% of all new car sales in Sweden.

Despite grouping in the Volvo V70 and its V90 successor, along with the S90 saloon, just 21,321 models of Volvo’s biggest seller were registered.

The last time Volvo was not the best-selling car in Sweden was 1962, when a Volkswagen Beetle took number one spot.

As a company, Volvo registered more than 71,000 cars in Sweden last year – well ahead of Volkswagen’s 58,000, with four of its models dominating the top six.

A strong economy, combined with low interest rates and a growing private leasing market, is responsible for strong sales across the country, with 372,296 new cars registered last year – an increase of 7.8 percent compared with 2015.

Bil Sweden CEO Bertil Molden said: “We’ve had 36 months in succession with increasing registrations.”

 Make and model2016 sales2015 sales Percentage of all new car sales 
 Volkswagen Golf22,082 22,779 5.93%
 Volvo V70/S90/V9021,321  28,613  5.73%
 Volvo S60/V60 16,755 14,698 4.5%
 Volvo XC6016,266 14,834 4.37%
 Volkswagen Passat15,716  14,392  4.22% 
 Volvo V40 12,691 10,333 3.41% 
 Toyota Auris 7,423 6,868  1.99%
 Volkswagen Polo 7,091 4,585 1.9%
 Kia Cee’d 6,778 6,726 1.82%
 Skoda Octavia 5,889 5,519 1.58%
Using Skype from a Volvo

You can now Skype from a Volvo

Using Skype from a VolvoVolvo has become the first car maker to equip its cars with Microsoft Skype functionality – so you can now be even more productive when on the move (or stuck in a traffic jam). 

The firm reckons adding Skype for Business will actually boost the safety of its cars. Instead of fiddling with conference call phone numbers and access pin codes, motorists can join the meeting simply by pressing the Skype logo on the touchscreen. 

And in fitting it, Volvo is taking another step towards equipping its vehicles with things to do when cars become autonomous…

The Microsoft Skype deal also includes Cortana functionality. Volvo will explore how to contextually integrate the voice-controlled personal assistant into its cars. 

“Volvo is leading the way in its recognition that the nature of work is increasingly mobile,” said Skype for Business’s Ben Canning. “People need to be productive from anywhere – including their cars.

“We’re thrilled to extend modern meetings to Volvo cars.”

Volvo XC90 T8 review

Opinion: the Volvo XC90 T8 is brilliant – but it's ruined my Christmas

Volvo XC90 T8 review

In another world, I’d have a proper job that pays proper money. Writing about cars for a living is a privileged existence, but it doesn’t pay the big bucks. And while I get to drive some of the world’s finest cars, I’m often left with a sense of crushing disappointment.

Take the Volvo XC90 T8, for example. A month to the day since I reluctantly handed the keys back to Volvo, I still haven’t come to terms with my loss. And as we know, 2016 has been a year filled with sad losses.

I’ve made no secret of my irrational hatred of the new breed of crossovers and SUVs. I’m old enough to remember a time when cars would slot neatly into categories and the world knew where it stood. The blurring of the lines has left me feeling dazed and confused.

But I still have a great affection for a proper, full-size SUV. And while the Volvo XC90 might not be the kind of SUV you’d take on a jungle expedition – I’d borrow a Toyota Land Cruiser for such antics – it’s more than capable of facing up to the toughest challenge in the world: family life.

Allow me to explain.

The XC90 isn’t new to me. I attended the UK launch in Yorkshire and have fond memories of being perched on a hillside listening to a Last Night of the Proms rendition of Jerusalem, streamed through the outstandingly good Bowers & Wilkins audio system.

Engage the so-called ‘Gothenburg Concert Hall’ setting and it’s akin to being in the front row of the Bournemouth Pavilion listening to an orchestra. I’d like to say it’s like being in the Gothenburg Concert Hall, but I’ve never had the pleasure. But take it from me, it’s good enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention.

If you’re buying a Volvo XC90, you might as well add £3,000 to the purchase price, as it’s a must-have upgrade. Even if I do find Volvo’s decision to charge £300 for Apple CarPlay a little Scrooge-like. Bah humbug, or whatever they might say in Sweden.

I’m reliably informed – by a Volvo test driver, no less – that the word is ‘lurendrejeri’. Yes, Volvo, not offering CarPlay for free is a bit of a fiddle. But I digress.

Last Christmas I drove an XC90 D5 from Devon to Scotland (and back), before concluding that my life wouldn’t be complete until I had one parked outside my house. There are other things that would make my life complete – Keeley Hawes on speed dial, Brentford FC in the Premier League, and a lifetime supply of Hobnobs – but you get the picture.

With the benefit of hindsight, the D5 wouldn’t be my first choice of engine. Frugal it might be, but it falls just short of being able to power this two-tonne SUV without breaking sweat. A Yamaha-built V8 engine would do nicely, but Volvo is committed to a four-cylinder future, so there’s no chance of that.

Which brings me back to the T8. Right now, this is as close to perfection as you can get. There are faults, of course there are, but to point them out would be like flying to New York on Concorde and then complaining that the flight was too short.

But in the interests of balance, let me list the minor indiscretions I listed under ‘nitpicking’ in my Moleskine notebook. Weirdly, in the two XC90s I’ve spent an extended period of time with, the passenger side heated seat had a tendency to switch itself off. Annoying, if you enjoy the feeling of a warm bum.

Then there’s the sat-nav, which at first looks great in its tablet-style portrait mode. But the map is woefully short on detail and terribly disappointing to anyone who has experience with, say, a new Audi. And don’t get me started on the issue of fingerprints ruining what is a central part of the cabin.

Yes, Volvo puts a small cleaning cloth in the glovebox, but you just know that will be lost within the first couple of months. Or your youngest child will have used it to blow their nose. And by including the cloth, Volvo is acknowledging it might be an issue. A small detail, perhaps, but I told you I was nitpicking.

I could also point to the claimed 134.5mpg on a combined cycle, but surely nobody buys a T8 and expects to achieve such a lofty figure. In reality, after a week of driving, we were seeing figures in the mid 30s. An eco-hybrid this is not. In fact, be prepared to get on first name terms with your local petrol station cashier.

But that’s where the nitpicking ends. Whilst acknowledging that in this case love might be blind, I’m struggling to find any real issues of note.

Take the styling. Somehow, Volvo has managed to build a car that remains elegant and graceful – a stark contrast to the SUVs churned out by the Germans. While a Q7, X5 and whatever Mercedes-Benz is calling its large SUV these days might look brash, brutish and menacing, the XC90 somehow blends into its surroundings.

XC90 T8

It’s not that it’s small. A length of 4,950mm and width of 2,140mm pitches it neatly between the BMW X5 and Audi Q7. In other words, somewhere between a cathedral and the town hall. Yet it looks no more out of place than a tanning shop in Alderley Edge.

Then there’s the packaging. Because Volvo designed the XC90 for electrification from the ground up, the battery pack makes no difference to the size of the boot. Meanwhile, opt for the Mercedes-Benz GLE plug-in hybrid and you’re left with a box in the boot that resembles something your mate Bill knocked up in his shed.

It gets better. The fit and finish in the cabin is such that, even when your wife suggests visiting the in-laws or heading to a retail park on a Saturday afternoon, you’ll be only too pleased to oblige. Just be prepared to spend the entire day longing for the drive home.

A word or two about the engine. The T in T8 stands for Twin Engine, which means you’re treated to a 320hp petrol engine at the front and an 87hp electric motor at the rear. You don’t need to be Rachel Riley to calculate that this gives the XC90 a total of 407hp. Four hundred and seven!

The top speed of 140mph isn’t going to trouble the black luxobarges on the outside lane of ze autobahn, but the time it takes to reach 62mph might. Engage ‘POWER’ mode and this luxury appointed Stockholm penthouse suite will hit the mark in 5.6 seconds.

Think about that for a moment. This full-size, seven-seat SUV is quick enough to go hunting sports cars on a B-road. Not that you’ll want to do any kind of chasing or hunting in the XC90. The car is too well-mannered for such nonsense.

But by ‘eck does it feel quick. In power mode, it’s as though a bolt of electric runs through the XC90’s body, as if magic dust has been sprinkled on Santa’s reindeer. All of a sudden, the gas pedal requires only the slightest of touch before you’re hurtling towards the next bend.

At this point you’ll discover that the XC90 will lean a little if you’re too enthusiastic through the bend. But to complain about body roll in an XC90 is like criticising your armchair for not chilling your wine. Comfortable, relaxing and safe – three things your sofa shares in common with the XC90.

Sadly, you can’t equip your three-piece suite with four-corner electronic air suspension. On steel springs, the XC90 is perfectly fine. Add the air suspension and you’ll feel like you’re driving across a bed of marshmallows laced with the fur from a chinchilla. You could drive over Chipping Norton and not feel it.

OK, I’m fully aware that this is turning into a love letter penned for the Volvo XC90. But the internet is awash with rational car reviews about steering feel, load capacity and CO2 emissions (it’s 49g/km, in case you were wondering).

But, just occasionally, a car comes along that ticks all the boxes. Emotionally and rationally, I find the Volvo XC90 so damn appealing I just had to open my heart. Money no object, I’d buy an XC90 tomorrow and spend the rest of my life drenched in smug satisfaction.

I’ve even taken the liberty of speccing my ideal car. Sadly, it comes in at £84,200, some £20,000 more than the entry-level T8 Momentum and around £84,000 over budget.

My ideal Volvo XC90

Dear Santa, if you’re reading this, I’ll take mine in Twilight Bronze, with 22-inch rims, air suspension, Bowers & Wilkins and a few extra toys thrown in for good measure. I’ll collect it from the Volvo dealer at the North Pole, ta.

The night before I reluctantly handed the car back to Volvo, I was driving home along the M5, children cocooned in the back, wife Whatsapping in the front seat. I glanced over my shoulder at my two children, safe in the knowledge that daddy was driving the safest car in the world. If you’re a father, you’ll know there’s a lot to be said for that.

Unfortunately, this particular daddy can’t afford to buy the safest car in the world. Sorry, kids. If you work hard at school, you might get a proper job that pays proper money. Then you can afford the nicer things in life.

To Volvo, I say this: your mission to ensure nobody should be killed or injured in a new Volvo is admirable, but it can’t do much about crushing disappointment.

Volvo XC90 T8 review

Opinion: the Volvo XC90 T8 is brilliant – but it’s ruined my Christmas

Volvo XC90 T8 review

In another world, I’d have a proper job that pays proper money. Writing about cars for a living is a privileged existence, but it doesn’t pay the big bucks. And while I get to drive some of the world’s finest cars, I’m often left with a sense of crushing disappointment.

Take the Volvo XC90 T8, for example. A month to the day since I reluctantly handed the keys back to Volvo, I still haven’t come to terms with my loss. And as we know, 2016 has been a year filled with sad losses.

I’ve made no secret of my irrational hatred of the new breed of crossovers and SUVs. I’m old enough to remember a time when cars would slot neatly into categories and the world knew where it stood. The blurring of the lines has left me feeling dazed and confused.

But I still have a great affection for a proper, full-size SUV. And while the Volvo XC90 might not be the kind of SUV you’d take on a jungle expedition – I’d borrow a Toyota Land Cruiser for such antics – it’s more than capable of facing up to the toughest challenge in the world: family life.

Allow me to explain.

The XC90 isn’t new to me. I attended the UK launch in Yorkshire and have fond memories of being perched on a hillside listening to a Last Night of the Proms rendition of Jerusalem, streamed through the outstandingly good Bowers & Wilkins audio system.

Engage the so-called ‘Gothenburg Concert Hall’ setting and it’s akin to being in the front row of the Bournemouth Pavilion listening to an orchestra. I’d like to say it’s like being in the Gothenburg Concert Hall, but I’ve never had the pleasure. But take it from me, it’s good enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention.

If you’re buying a Volvo XC90, you might as well add £3,000 to the purchase price, as it’s a must-have upgrade. Even if I do find Volvo’s decision to charge £300 for Apple CarPlay a little Scrooge-like. Bah humbug, or whatever they might say in Sweden.

I’m reliably informed – by a Volvo test driver, no less – that the word is ‘lurendrejeri’. Yes, Volvo, not offering CarPlay for free is a bit of a fiddle. But I digress.

Last Christmas I drove an XC90 D5 from Devon to Scotland (and back), before concluding that my life wouldn’t be complete until I had one parked outside my house. There are other things that would make my life complete – Keeley Hawes on speed dial, Brentford FC in the Premier League, and a lifetime supply of Hobnobs – but you get the picture.

With the benefit of hindsight, the D5 wouldn’t be my first choice of engine. Frugal it might be, but it falls just short of being able to power this two-tonne SUV without breaking sweat. A Yamaha-built V8 engine would do nicely, but Volvo is committed to a four-cylinder future, so there’s no chance of that.

Which brings me back to the T8. Right now, this is as close to perfection as you can get. There are faults, of course there are, but to point them out would be like flying to New York on Concorde and then complaining that the flight was too short.

But in the interests of balance, let me list the minor indiscretions I listed under ‘nitpicking’ in my Moleskine notebook. Weirdly, in the two XC90s I’ve spent an extended period of time with, the passenger side heated seat had a tendency to switch itself off. Annoying, if you enjoy the feeling of a warm bum.

Then there’s the sat-nav, which at first looks great in its tablet-style portrait mode. But the map is woefully short on detail and terribly disappointing to anyone who has experience with, say, a new Audi. And don’t get me started on the issue of fingerprints ruining what is a central part of the cabin.

Yes, Volvo puts a small cleaning cloth in the glovebox, but you just know that will be lost within the first couple of months. Or your youngest child will have used it to blow their nose. And by including the cloth, Volvo is acknowledging it might be an issue. A small detail, perhaps, but I told you I was nitpicking.

I could also point to the claimed 134.5mpg on a combined cycle, but surely nobody buys a T8 and expects to achieve such a lofty figure. In reality, after a week of driving, we were seeing figures in the mid 30s. An eco-hybrid this is not. In fact, be prepared to get on first name terms with your local petrol station cashier.

But that’s where the nitpicking ends. Whilst acknowledging that in this case love might be blind, I’m struggling to find any real issues of note.

Take the styling. Somehow, Volvo has managed to build a car that remains elegant and graceful – a stark contrast to the SUVs churned out by the Germans. While a Q7, X5 and whatever Mercedes-Benz is calling its large SUV these days might look brash, brutish and menacing, the XC90 somehow blends into its surroundings.

XC90 T8

It’s not that it’s small. A length of 4,950mm and width of 2,140mm pitches it neatly between the BMW X5 and Audi Q7. In other words, somewhere between a cathedral and the town hall. Yet it looks no more out of place than a tanning shop in Alderley Edge.

Then there’s the packaging. Because Volvo designed the XC90 for electrification from the ground up, the battery pack makes no difference to the size of the boot. Meanwhile, opt for the Mercedes-Benz GLE plug-in hybrid and you’re left with a box in the boot that resembles something your mate Bill knocked up in his shed.

It gets better. The fit and finish in the cabin is such that, even when your wife suggests visiting the in-laws or heading to a retail park on a Saturday afternoon, you’ll be only too pleased to oblige. Just be prepared to spend the entire day longing for the drive home.

A word or two about the engine. The T in T8 stands for Twin Engine, which means you’re treated to a 320hp petrol engine at the front and an 87hp electric motor at the rear. You don’t need to be Rachel Riley to calculate that this gives the XC90 a total of 407hp. Four hundred and seven!

The top speed of 140mph isn’t going to trouble the black luxobarges on the outside lane of ze autobahn, but the time it takes to reach 62mph might. Engage ‘POWER’ mode and this luxury appointed Stockholm penthouse suite will hit the mark in 5.6 seconds.

Think about that for a moment. This full-size, seven-seat SUV is quick enough to go hunting sports cars on a B-road. Not that you’ll want to do any kind of chasing or hunting in the XC90. The car is too well-mannered for such nonsense.

But by ‘eck does it feel quick. In power mode, it’s as though a bolt of electric runs through the XC90’s body, as if magic dust has been sprinkled on Santa’s reindeer. All of a sudden, the gas pedal requires only the slightest of touch before you’re hurtling towards the next bend.

At this point you’ll discover that the XC90 will lean a little if you’re too enthusiastic through the bend. But to complain about body roll in an XC90 is like criticising your armchair for not chilling your wine. Comfortable, relaxing and safe – three things your sofa shares in common with the XC90.

Sadly, you can’t equip your three-piece suite with four-corner electronic air suspension. On steel springs, the XC90 is perfectly fine. Add the air suspension and you’ll feel like you’re driving across a bed of marshmallows laced with the fur from a chinchilla. You could drive over Chipping Norton and not feel it.

OK, I’m fully aware that this is turning into a love letter penned for the Volvo XC90. But the internet is awash with rational car reviews about steering feel, load capacity and CO2 emissions (it’s 49g/km, in case you were wondering).

But, just occasionally, a car comes along that ticks all the boxes. Emotionally and rationally, I find the Volvo XC90 so damn appealing I just had to open my heart. Money no object, I’d buy an XC90 tomorrow and spend the rest of my life drenched in smug satisfaction.

I’ve even taken the liberty of speccing my ideal car. Sadly, it comes in at £84,200, some £20,000 more than the entry-level T8 Momentum and around £84,000 over budget.

My ideal Volvo XC90

Dear Santa, if you’re reading this, I’ll take mine in Twilight Bronze, with 22-inch rims, air suspension, Bowers & Wilkins and a few extra toys thrown in for good measure. I’ll collect it from the Volvo dealer at the North Pole, ta.

The night before I reluctantly handed the car back to Volvo, I was driving home along the M5, children cocooned in the back, wife Whatsapping in the front seat. I glanced over my shoulder at my two children, safe in the knowledge that daddy was driving the safest car in the world. If you’re a father, you’ll know there’s a lot to be said for that.

Unfortunately, this particular daddy can’t afford to buy the safest car in the world. Sorry, kids. If you work hard at school, you might get a proper job that pays proper money. Then you can afford the nicer things in life.

To Volvo, I say this: your mission to ensure nobody should be killed or injured in a new Volvo is admirable, but it can’t do much about crushing disappointment.