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post #1 of 1 (permalink) Old 12-05-01, 04:01 PM Thread Starter
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Another 4X4 in the Ford camp

More info and another image for Volvo's chunky XC90, first reported last week on the Auto Express website. Fans of the Swedish car maker, which is more renowned for its 'safe as houses' image than adventurous new models, have been given a shot in the arm with this, the company's first ever proper off-roader.
Only 11 months after the firm stunned Detroit Motor Show visitors with its Activity Concept Car, the SUV dream has now been turned into a reality. This is the first official picture of the machine that brings the ACC prototype to the road. To be badged the XC90, the newcomer has the likes of BMW's X5 and the Mercedes M-Class firmly in its sights.

Changes between the concept – driven by Auto Express in Issue 658 – and the road car have been kept to an absolute minimum. Most obvious is the revised grille, but the front bumper has been reworked for improved crash protection, and foglights are now included, too. The two-tone paintwork has gone as well, and rubbing strips now line the flanks.

At the rear, Volvo has opted for a more traditional look, mirroring the appearance of the V70 estate car. Practicality has also received a boost with a split tailgate to make access to the load deck much easier.

Inside, the car offers seven seats which can be folded flat to increase boot capacity. But while Volvo knows looks and practicality are all-important in the fashionable SUV stakes, if the firm really wants to beat its German rivals, there's got to be plenty on offer under the bonnet as well.

At first glance, it looks like Volvo may have done enough. Entry-level XC90s are to be fitted with the smooth 163bhp D5 diesel already used across the company's line-up. The 272bhp six-cylinder turbo, currently reserved for the S80, will debut in the top-of-the-range model, and buyers will also be able to choose between a five-speed manual and automatic gearboxes.

Despite the fact that this SUV will undoubtedly see more tarmac than mud, Volvo insists the XC90 will offer impressive off-road performance. The full-time 4x4 mechanicals used by its stablemate, the XC70 Cross Country, will also be seen in the newcomer.

The levels of equipment are also expected to break new ground, as all XC90s will have the Volvo On-Call system. It's a sat-nav and telecommunications package ca-pable of automatically contacting a UK call centre in the event of an accident.

Prices should undercut all the main rivals. A base model XC90 is likely to cost from £27,000, with other versions rising to around £31,000. By comparison, the entry-level BMW X5 costs £33,140, while the least expensive M-Class weighs in at £28,795.

The new mud-plugger will make its debut at next month's Detroit Motor Show, and will also put in an appearance at the British event in October. The first UK models will appear in showrooms soon after.
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