The model we’re testing here is the Volvo XC90 T6, powered by the 2.0-litre petrol engine rather than the 2.0-litre diesel, and Volvo says this drivetrain is expected to account for about 40 per cent of initial XC90 sales ahead of the technologically-advanced XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid arriving in 2016.
No rival models have as small a petrol engine in their ranges as yet – the BMW X5’s smallest petrol is the xDrive35i, a 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder with 225kW/400Nm; the Mercedes-Benz GLE’s smallest petrol is in the GLE400, a 3.0-litre twin turbo V6 with 245kW/480Nm; and the Audi Q7 doesn’t even come with a petrol option in Australia. Only the soon-to-arrive Lexus RX has a 2.0-litre turbo, but it’s a lighter, smaller SUV with five seats, not seven.
But the Volvo’s four-pot – which is sold here in the most powerful T6 specification only – is both turbocharged and supercharged, and the result is a pair of healthy, and competitive, peak outputs given the size of the engine: power is rated at 235kW (at 5700rpm) and torque is a strong 400Nm (from 2200rpm to 5400rpm).
It is teamed to an eight-speed automatic transmission, and as with all XC90 models it works with a Haldex all-wheel drive system to apportion drive to the wheels that need it most, depending on the situation.
Volvo claims the XC90 will use just 8.5 litres of premium unleaded per 100 kilometres, which is a mighty enticing figure on paper.
In the real world, on our test at least, it didn’t quite get that good – through a mix of driving including more than 250 kilometres of country back-road and freeway motoring, as well as a few hours of commuter traffic, we saw a return of 9.7 litres per 100km. That said, we never had seven bodies on board, nor any bulky weekend sport kit.
The T6 petrol is an engine that likes to be driven a certain way. The supercharger helps get it away from the line, while the turbo kicks in to help keep progress swift as the revs rise. The result is that it can be slow to respond to sudden throttle inputs, particularly from a standstill.
Published: Wednesday, November 4, 2015