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14 August 2014

Why Volvo's new XC90 will be ace

New SUV will get new chassis technology that will make it pretty. Will also come with 400bhp

Vijay Pattni
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Today, TopGear can exclusively reveal that the new Volvo XC90 will feature at least one headlight, positioned to the right of the bonnet.

We jest, of course. But Volvo has trickled out at little more information on its upcoming all-new SUV ahead of a world premiere in just a couple of weeks' time.

Now, we know seven-seat family 4x4s may not light your wick in quite the same way as, say, mint old-new Jaaaag E-Types, but the XC90 is worthy of your attention. Not only because it's JC's favourite SUV, and not only because this is the car that signals Volvo's rebirth, but because - by 4x4 standards at least - this one should be a looker.

This is because Volvo has built the XC90 on a new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), a modular chassis technology - like VW's ubiquitous MQB system - that allows the engineers and designers more freedom. It's the first Volvo to be based on the SPA, and around 90 per cent of the components are brand new.

This new scaffolding underneath gives Volvo designers a virtual blank sheet in terms of wheelbase, overhang and height. "Our three recent concept cars have demonstrated this capability," says Thomas Ingelnath, senior VP of design at Volvo.

"Even though the all-new XC90 is an entirely different type of car, you will recognise the connection instantly," he adds. This is good, because Volvo's recent concepts have looked amazing.

That SPA also means Volvo can tighten up the XC90's road manners (weight distribution, ride comfort, greater agility), free up interior space to make it a full seven-seater, and of course, make it very safe. And fast.

How fast? Engine-wise, there'll be a modular family of 2.0-litre four cylinder diesel and petrol engines with ‘several' levels of turbocharging. The range-topper sounds most excellent, too. It's a 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine with an electric motor on board to produce 400bhp.

CO2 emissions for the latter are pegged at just 60g/km. Of course, plug-in hybrids play havoc with the official CO2 cycle, but still...

"The XC90 is a car that has presence on the road," says Ingelnath. We're quite looking forward to the full reveal of the XC90 and its ‘Thor's Hammer' headlights. And now we know it'll get 400bhp, we like it just that little bit more.

Tags: xc90, volvo

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