BBC Autos

For the Volvo XC90, a cutting-edge reboot

2015 Volvo XC90

2015 Volvo XC90. (Volvo Cars)

So, here it is. ladies and gentlemen, at long lost: the really brand new Volvo XC90. The SUV scene is about to get interesting.

Why? Because this Swedish seven-seater is an important car, and an exciting one. It won't have escaped your attention that this new XC90 is really quite attractive, with its ‘Thor's Hammer' headlights, chunky silhouette and sweeping rear lights.

Then there's the completely new chassis. Underpinning this new XC90 – and all next-generation Volvos – is the Scalable Product Architecture, which is a modular skeleton that affords plenty of flexibility. Things like different powertrains, electrical systems and various tech things are all possible without designers worrying about the fundamentals of wheelbase, overhangs and vehicle height. And although it’s still big, this new XC90 promises "the agility of a much smaller and lower car", according to Volvo senior VP Dr Peter Mertens.

2015 Volvo XC90

2015 Volvo XC90. (Volvo Cars)

The new XC90 features four-wheel drive, and top trim levels get a new eight-speed automatic gearbox and full air suspension. At launch in Europe, engines are all of four-cylinder 2-litre capacity – you'll be offered a turbocharged diesel with 185 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque or 220hp and 347lb-ft. There's also a plug-in hybrid with a supercharged and turbocharged 2-litre gasoline engine driving the front wheels and an 80hp electric motor for the rear axle. Total power sits at a healthy 395hp and 472lb-ft of torque.

It's a clean, neat design inside, too, with a configurable display in front of the driver, a heads-up display, a ginormous touch-screen tablet in the centre and a gearlever rendered in crystal. The seats even have tiny Swedish flags sewn into the sides. Needless to say, there's a smorgasbord of connectivity, with Apple and Android compatibility. 

2015 Volvo XC90

2015 Volvo XC90. (Volvo Cars)

Oh, and because this is a Volvo, it'll be safe – massively safe. Volvo tells us the new XC90 gets "the most comprehensive and technologically sophisticated standard safety package available in the automotive industry". Things like automatic braking, self-driving in stop-start traffic, a ‘run off road' protection package, pre-crash protection, whiplash protection, blind-spot info and road-sign reading capabilities are all present and correct.

All of this safety kit exists the help Volvo realise its Big Ambition: by 2020, nobody will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo. That's quite a claim. And it's quite a car.

2015 Volvo XC90

2015 Volvo XC90. (Volvo Cars)

A version of this story originally appeared on TopGear.com.

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