Magazine article African Business

Volvo XC90. (Wheels)

Magazine article African Business

Volvo XC90. (Wheels)

Article excerpt

The Volvo range of attractive, modern saloons and estates is now complemented by a four-wheel drive sports model, the XC90-which can also pass muster as a multi-purpose people carrier. STEPHEN WILLIAMS takes up the story.

Of all the marques that have been swallowed up by Ford in recent years (Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln and Volvo) and are now part of the Ford's Premier Automotive Group, the effect on Volvo has arguably been the most profound.

Since early 1999, when Ford bought the company, Volvo's image as the makers of durable, sensible and, above all, safe cars has been subtly repositioned with a range of attractive, modern saloons and estates which drive as good as they look. Volvo's current range has undoubtedly been giving its competitors a run for their money in the saloon car desirability stakes, whilst retaining a priceless asset--the maker's reputation for safety.

But Volvo's range had one weakness, the lack of both a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) or a sports-utility vehicle (SUV). These two classes of car are now considered essential for any volume car-maker with sales of both booming in recent years, driven by the American motorist's almost insatiable desire for high, wide and tall people carriers (MPVs), and all purpose terrain four-wheel-drives (SUVs).

Now that apparent weakness has been addressed, and in a most interesting way. Volvo might have developed two vehicles, but instead has come up with just one to satisfy both market segments. The XC90, with little compromise, fits both briefs competently.

The XC90 is built on the same multi-use platform that carries the V70 estate (and 560 and 580 models) but is 10cm longer and wider and nearly 22cm taller than the flagship estate. That's still not as large as many SUV's, but the Volvo engineers have shoehorned the engines in transversely. …

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