Can the petrol-powered V90 off-road estate make a financial case for itself?
If you need rugged SUV-style ground-crossing prowess but really donâ€™t fancy a big, boxy SUV, Volvo has since the 1990s been one of the few manufacturers to offer an alternative. The V90 Cross Country is the latest in a line of toughened-up estate cars on stilts designed to appeal to those who prefer a more understated approach to off-roading.
Up to now, weâ€™ve only had diesel models, but as the backlash against the fuel continues, Volvoâ€™s now introduced a petrol-powered version. The tough body cladding and surprising off-road abilities continue, only this time powered by a 316bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-litre petrol.
Volvo V90 T6 Cross Country Pro
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged and supercharged petrol
Torque: 295lb ft
Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic
Kerb weight: 1834kg
Top speed: 143mph
Fuel economy: 36.7mpg
CO2 rating: 176g/km
Performance for one improves considerably. This V60 is now capable of 0-62mph in just 6.3 seconds. Itâ€™s an incredibly strong motor, with the supercharger providing instant surge at low revs, and the turbo kicking in at higher engine speeds. On-the-move overtaking shove is particularly impressive.
Pity itâ€™s hampered by a slow-to-respond eight-speed automatic gearbox, which dulls the carâ€™s responses, particularly in town. And while it replaces the grumbly diesel engine note with near-silence at slow speeds, the raspy noise it makes when worked harder is more hot hatch than luxury estate.
Fuel economy canâ€™t match the diesel either. The firm officially quotes a middling 36.7mpg, but in practice, we couldnâ€™t get anywhere near that. Even a relaxed motorway run didnâ€™t nudge the figure up much. When you add in the fact you can only buy it in top-spec Cross Country Pro trim, priced at over Â£50,000, the cost implications of choosing petrol seem steep.
What Volvo has kept is the impressive ride quality of the Cross Country, which is an improvement over the regular V90, thanks to its raised ride height and greater suspension travel. Around town, itâ€™s very successful in taking the edge off manhole covers, and floats along nicely and with good isolation.
Handling is a bit softer, and it does roll more than the regular, lower-slung V90, but itâ€™s still not excessive and, overall, we think Volvoâ€™s struck an excellent compromise.
Overall, the new petrol engine is a strong one, but the financial implications make it hard to recommend. Weâ€™d stick with the cheaper D4, which is also more relaxing to drive as it produces its power lower down in the rev range. Even alongside strong competition such as the Audi A6 Allroad and Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain, the V90 Cross Country holds its ownâ€¦ but only as a diesel, rather than the petrol tested here.