Volvo has long been known for its safe cars, and in more recent years the manufacturer has built on this through producing equally good-looking, comfortable and classy models such as the XC90.

However, the Swedes have their own unique and appealing way of doing this – a bit like Ikea produces practical and functional yet aesthetically appealing furniture, Volvo thinks about their cars in a similar way – which makes for a pleasantly surprising experience.

One of the best examples of this is the XC90, a premium seven-seat SUV designed which is a serious competitor – for a good number of reasons – to more expensive German options in the SUV market.

First among these is the interior, which is among the most comfortable, spacious and well thought-out of any car on the road. It combines a blend of high-end materials such as wood, crystal and metal in a sophisticated design.

The top of the range XC90 model, for example, comes with adjustable rear seats (with a massage function and specially designed headrests) as well as a refrigerator, two folding tables and cup holders with both heating and cooling options. Seats also come with extended leather-covered surfacing as well as hand-crafted crystal glasses from famous Swedish glassmaker Orrefors.

“It has so many safety functions and features that it’s the equivalent of a Swiss army knife of safe cars on the road”

On the tech side, the XC90 also features Volvo’s connectivity offering called Sensus, which is a touchscreen interface that combines car functions, navigation, connected services and in-car entertainment applications such as Spotify, Pandora, Baidu or TuneIn. The portrait-oriented touch screen provides easy access to a range of functions and features in an intuitively simple way – back to the point of Volvo’s practical and functional approach to things.

Volvo’s leadership in the field of automotive safety is also confirmed in the XC90, and it has so many safety functions and features that it’s the equivalent of a Swiss army knife of safe cars on the road. Its “city safety technology”, for example, is standard on all Volvo models and combines automatic breaking functionality and collision avoidance systems to cover a range of potential accident scenarios.

It even has a function for “large animal detection”, which is designed to help avoid or mitigate collisions with large animals, while another safety addition includes “run off road mitigation” which is an auto-steer functionality designed to help drivers on the road in case of emergency.

Volvo’s overall safety offering, called “IntelliSafe”, includes both active and passive safety systems. An example of this is its semi-autonomous drive with “pilot assist”, which works up to 130 km/h on clearly marked roads. Volvo says that this functionality is a step towards its vision that no-one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020.

“This makes the XC90 T8 twin engine one of the most efficient and powerful 7-seater premium SUVs on the market”

The XC90 T8’s twin engine is particularly innovative and has five different driving modes, each of which delivers a range of benefits for performance and efficiency. These are accessed using either a scroll wheel on the centre console or a touchscreen on the dashboard.

The hybrid mode is the default one for this model, and it automatically alternates between drawing power from the 2-litre, 4-cylinder and the plug-in electric motor. This produces CO2 emissions of just 49 g/km, delivers more than 43 km of pure electric range and a combined power output of around 410 horsepower.

The other four modes are: pure electric (which relies solely on the high-voltage battery if fully charged, which is also recharged through regenerative braking); power mode (which offers better torque at lower revs, equivalent to that of a large displacement engine like a V8); AWD (which offers constant all-wheel drive on demand); and “save” (which allows the driver to “freeze” the battery level and save it for later use with pure electric drive).

With very conservative driving it can achieve consumption figures of just 2.1 litres per 100 km. However, when pressed, the turbo petrol engine and electric motor combine to deliver a 0-100 km/h figure of 5.6 seconds.

This makes the XC90 T8 twin engine one of the most efficient and powerful 7-seater premium SUVs on the market.

Image source: supplied