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Volvo XC90 sporting a smart device

The XC90 Sport runs the transversely mounted 4.4-litre eight cylinder donk that was developed in association with Yamaha.

It may not be endowed with the lashings of torque that Aussie-bred V8s develop but its a giggle to see the needle spin quickly to the top end.

And then you tune in to the manic sound the engine creates when everything is singing.

The XC90 Sport is not all about grunt and testosterone, but it rather reinforces just what a smart device this large SUV is and for the money it undercuts a lot of its higher selling rivals, the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz ML-Class.

This Volvo is done with plenty of finesse and striking styling.

Sometimes the chassis performance and steering is a little off song compared with others but the strengths of this car are compelling in other areas such as safety, comfort and packaging.

The test car was equipped with the BLIS (Blindspot Information System) that illuminates a light on the inside door trim near where your eyes would catch the side mirrors.

And what a particularly useful device it is, especially with the odd motorcycle which seems to appear suddenly and for those pesky vehicles that persist in travelling in the blindspot of another vehicle.

There are head restraints for all-seven seating positions, which can also be cleverly folded over when not needed so the driver has an unimpeded view out the rear.

The two, three, two layout of this SUV is also a snap to reconfigure. Packaging has always been a Volvo strength and the XC90 doesn't let the side down. If you have gear to load, children, whatever, and you need to play around with the seating arrangements, don't fear.

The rear seats can be stowed away or clicked into place ready to use with one hand; with a simple lever and tab system; where the seat squab can be pulled or pushed and the seat back nudged into place or pulled forward to fold flat.

The second row seats all have various degrees of split-fold and can be laid horizontal to create a massive, flat load area.

There is abundant comfort inside and a commanding view from behind the steering wheel.

Speaking of which the extra chunky steering wheel may not be everyone's cup of tea, particularly those with small hands like this tester.

Inside there is plush trim throughout and excellent ergonomics.

Fuel consumption nudged 15litres/100km on this drive which is on the high side but probably closer to real-world figures with weight and passengers on board.



Volvo XC90 V8 Sport

Price: $89,950

Engine: 3 stars

Revvy number which spins up to the chunky end of the tacho in quick time

Transmission: 3 stars

Smooth changing and quick to respond

Handling: 3 stars

Would be overshadowed by key Euro rivals but a none-the-less competent chassis

Safety: 4 stars

You wouldn't feel any safer in a vault

Value: 3 stars

Has a decided edge against some of its V8 rivals


Tech specs

Body: five-door, seven-seat wagon

Engine: 4414cc quad cam V8

Transmission: 6-speed automatic, sequential

Power: 232kW @ 5850rpm

Torque: 440Nm @ 3900rpm

Weight: 2102kg

Dimensions (MM): 4807 (l), 1909 (w), 1781 (h), 2857 (w'base)

Fuel: 80 litres, 15l/100km (as tested city/highway)



For: Build quality, packaging, user-friendly interior

Against: Engine down on torque, fuel economy is up there


Overall: 3 stars

Hard to ignore at the price


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