Toyota’s luxury arm, Lexus, has been on a roll in terms of sales lately. Despite only having one dealership, located in Bonifacio Global City, the luxury brand has managed to become a leader in sales numbers and as ever, its excellent reputation for customer service. One of the brand’s key drivers for success is its Lexus IS line of compact luxury sports sedans. Benefitting from JPEPA, in which cars made in Japan being shipped to the Philippines will not be imposed with any import tariffs, the Lexus IS is fully able to benefit from this advantage in order to offer a lot more for the money.
For starters, the Lexus IS has always been fully equipped even from the base IS 350 non-F Sport model. Both standard and F Sport models gain an extensively redesigned front fascia. The spindle grille is bolder and more “in your face” than ever, which will truly draw stares even from afar. New LED headlights give the Lexus IS better visibility and a more aggressive face at night, while the three-dimensional 3-bar LED tail lights look very cool, and now closely resembles the Lexus LF-CC concept that previewed the Lexus IS and Lexus RC.
Inside, revisions have been made to further uplift the driving experience. More sections of the cabin are now wrapped in leather, including the knee pads and some parts of the dashboard. For the F-Sport variant, the 7-inch TFT LCD screen from the Lexus Remote Touch Interface has been ditched in favor of a significantly bigger 10.3 inch TFT LCD display.
Powertrain options are unchanged, with both models powered by a 3.5 liter V6 D-4S petrol engine, mated only to an 8-Speed Automatic Transmission with paddle shifters, with the power going to the rear wheels. The engine, however, gets a power boost, 317 hp from 306 hp, and 375 Nm of torque to 378.
As ever, the Lexus IS undercuts its equivalently equipped and powered German rivals by as much as half a million to a million Pesos.
The Porsche Boxster and Cayman have just been given facelifts, but for a mid-cycle refresh, this seems to be more than just a facelift. A new, more agressive face, and a new pair of 4-cylinder turbocharged boxer engines, down by two cylinders from their predecessors, has Porsche gone mad?
Well, not really. You see, these new engines are smaller but more powerful, making the new Boxster and Cayman faster and also more fuel efficient. In conjunction to the new powertrains, they also changed the name. These new cars are now called the Porsche 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman, which harks back to Porsche’s entry level 718 from the past. In this regard, Porsche is no stranger either to 4-cylinder boxer engines. The original 718 was a successor to the legendary Porsche 550 Spyder. This new 718 Boxster and Cayman pays homage to the original 718 from its similar idea of having a mid-mounted 4-cylinder boxer engine, albeit turbocharged. The original 718 became three-time victors of the of the legendary Italian Targa Florio race from 1959 to 1960, and it also became victorious at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1958. Will history repeat itself?
718 Cayman S
718 Boxster S
For starters, the look has been refreshed. Porsche says only the trunk lid has been untouched, which means every single panel in this car has received slight changes to its design. For a typical Porsche facelift, there has been a lot of noticeable design changes that have been made. The front end is completely redesigned with a more sculpted front bumper, and larger air intakes are made to the sides. The rear sees a more contemporary approach with slimmer LED tail lights and a new horizontal bar that houses the Porsche text.
718 Cayman S
718 Boxster S
The interior on the other hand, is a higher level of spot the difference. The changes are very minimal, sans the new aircon vents, capacitive touch screen system for the second generation of Porsche Communication Management (PCM), and the all-new steering wheel from the Porsche 918 hypercar. Apple CarPlay can be fitted as an option.
There are a pair of engines to choose from. The base models have a 2.0 liter 4-cylinder turbocharged boxer engine, while the S has a 2.5 liter 4-cylinder boxer engines. The 2.0 produces 300 hp and 380 Nm of torque, while the 2.5 produces 350 hp and 420 Nm of torque. Horsepower is up by 25 hp on both engines, while torque is increased by 90 Nm on the 2.0 liter and 50 Nm on the bigger engines. Due to turbocharging, peak torque is spread across the rev range, enabling the new 718 models to have faster and more responsive acceleration times, especially in gear acceleration. All variants deliver power to the rear wheels via a 7-Speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) dual-clutch transmission, and with the Sport Chrono pack fitted as standard, base models spring from 0-100 km/h in 4.7 seconds, while the S models sprint from 0-100 km/h in 4.5 seconds.
Porsche Philippines markets these two cars as the return of the great 718. Apart from the name and the heritage, that’s about as much similarities as they have with the original 718. The Porsche 718 is one of those cars that has made the brand famous for its involvement in motorsport, and with the car’s name and philosophy being reincarnated, history is once again repeating itself. Who knows, maybe Porsche will bring the 718 Boxster and Cayman back to motorsport. This is Porsche, after all, where motorsport truly runs in the blood of its cars. You can now own this repetition of history by visiting the Porsche Center Philippines in Greenhills, today.
The all-new Volvo XC90 has been a runaway hit for Volvo, and it needed it to be. Being beaten by the Germans in terms of sales, Volvo has no room for error with their XC90. Since its global launch, it has garnered over 118 awards worldwide, and last night was the continuation of Volvo’s renaissance. We couldn’t agree more on how excellent the Volvo XC90 is by reading our review of this large luxury SUV. In the grandest way possible, Volvo has now launched in the Philippines the S90 flagship sedan
With the theme of the launch event “Magnum Opus”, this is perhaps one of the most extravagant car launches we’ve ever been to. From the sign up booths, the 6 course dinner with food that looks too good, you’d feel bad eating it, up to the exquisite performances from world class international and local acts, Volvo is certainly serious right now towards the Philippine market for them to put up such a show and launch the cars in such grace and elegance.
Developed from the ground up, the Volvo S90 is a clean sheet design for a new Volvo sedan. As it is part of the Volvo “90 Series”, the S90 borrows design cues from, not surprisingly, the Volvo XC90, and Volvo’s new design language looks even more elegant and stunning in sedan form. It looks sleek and supremely elegant, boasting the same level of authority from the XC90. The now ubiquitous “Thor’s Hammer” LED daytime running lights give the S90 an authoritative appearance, with its presence further made aggressive through its large grille. Out the back, the rear lights highlight the S90’s rear shape, making it look wider, and an R-design variant spices things up by adding a little bit of sportiness to the S90’s design.
Inside, the S90 are just as equally impressive as the outside. Just like the XC90, less clutter means more elegance, and it’s no surprise to only find a few buttons inside the cabin, and the rest of the functions are controlled via the tablet-like Volvo Sensus which is intuitive and easy to use. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto comes standard. The cabin follows a horizontal design theme, and is somehow more stately in execution here in the S90 than in the XC90. The materials are rich, and the open pore wood is supremely good looking and beautiful. The S90 is a wonderful place to be in for hours end on EDSA traffic, completely ignoring the chaos that is known as Manila.
This Volvo S90 D4 Inscription variant we see here is powered by Volvo’s Drive-E powertrains, this one being the 2.0 liter 4-cylinder twin turbo diesel engine that produces 188 hp and 400 Nm of torque. Other engines include a petrol T8 plug in hybrid, and is the most powerful variant as well. All powertrains are mated to an 8-Speed automatic transmission.
The S90, as ever, are equipped with plenty of innovations from the Swedish luxury brand. The Volvo S90 and V90 are equipped with a system that tightens the seatbelt if it senses you’ve drifted off your lane and/or about to roll-over, and other similar situations. Volvo’s enhanced City Safety now detects large animals such as… carabaos perhaps, and a new system called the advanced semi-autonomous system, called Pilot Assist, keeping the car aligned within the lane at speeds of up to 130km/h. Other active safety features include Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and the likes. Based on Volvo’s landmark goal of having zero casualties and serious injuries from a Volvo by 2020, it seems their rate of innovation seems realistic and achievable.
Whereas the Germans have ostentatious designs and a varying focus on sportiness with their rear wheel drive executive sedans (or all wheel drive as an option for the Audi A6), the Volvo S90 has no sporting pretensions. It is an honest to goodness stately midsize executive sedan that doesn’t even try its hardest to be sporty. All it aims to do is to transport its occupants in serenity and opulent luxury without any fuss and drama.
Alongside the S90, the equally stunning and beautiful Xc90 was also on display. It looks even more stunning than we remember with its large 20 inch alloy wheels.
SUVs and crossovers are all the rage nowadays. Porsche fans went all berzerk when the brand announced that they’ll be releasing a midsize SUV called the Cayenne. A few years later, the Cayenne is Porsche’s best selling vehicle. BMW also did not make SUVs before, until 1999 when the sporty premium brand took notice that the world will have an increased appetite for SUVs when the X5 came out, and they were right. Lamborghini is about to release their first SUV as well based on the Urus concept, and it was only about time when Maserati will eventually give in and join in the SUV craze, as this segment is now the world’s most profitable.
Meet the Maserati Levante. Previewed in 2012 by the weirdly named Kubang, the Levante is marketed by Maserati as “the Maserati of SUVs”. Either that’s an obvious statement, because the X5 can simply be called “the BMW of SUVs” as well, but what they’re pertaining to this is that, it is the sportscar of the SUV segment. We wouldn’t argue with that though, but Porsche may have something to say about that. Being Maserati’s first SUV, their first attempt is anything but disappointing. The feline-like approach in designing the Levante has made it look more dynamic and sportier than the dimensions suggest, because my goodness, this is a pretty large SUV, measuring 5 meters long, a bit shy of 2 meters wide, and about 1.5 meters tall. Hiding its bulk well are the coupe-like roofline, the large but low slung grille which houses the trident badge, and a pair of HID headlights with LED daytime running lights. The car’s dynamic nature is further accentuated by the Levante’s frameless doors.
Inside, the Levante introduces Maserati’s new version of its infotainment system, which aside from the touch screen, can now be operated by a central knob, akin to BMW’s iDrive, Audi’s MMI, and Mercedes’ COMAND. The whole dash follows the design theme seen in Maseratis of late. Housed near the gear lever is the controls for the driving modes for the Levante’s AWD system.
Three engine are available. All are 3.0 liter V6 twin turbo engines, two of which is a petrol, and the other is a diesel. The petrol is available in two states of tune. One that produces 430 hp and 580 Nm of torqu, while there is a friendlier version at 350 hp and 500 Nm of torque. Both V6 engines are designed and built by Ferrari at their Maranello plant, so expect a lot of smiles per gallon of fuel, and plenty of raised hairs from its eargasmic engine sound. The diesel, meanwhile, produces 275 hp and 600 Nm of torque, and the power is sent to all four wheels via an 8-Speed Automatic transmission.
As for the pricing, there is no word yet on how much the Levante will cost. Expect it not to be cheap and very exclusive.
The Audi R8 came as a complete shock to the world when Audi first released the supercar. Previewed then by the Le Mans Quattro concept, it was surprising how Audi kept true to the concept, and in 2006, the Le Mans concept became reality in the form of the Audi R8. Based on the Lamborghini Gallardo, some could argue that the R8 looked even more stunning both inside and out compared to the Gallardo, even after receiving a facelift. Now in its second generation, Audi keeps on the familiar formula that has made the R8 a truly desirable supercar.
Launched in the Philippines is the V10 Plus model. Being the Plus variant, it is equipped with the exact same V10 engine found in the Lamborghini Huracan LP610-4, producing 610 hp and 560 Nm of torque. As usual, power is sent through all four wheels via a 7-Speed S Tronic Dual Clutch Transmission, the only transmission available in the R8. This powertrain combination enables the R8 to sprint from 0-100 km/h in 3.2 seconds and onto a top speed of 330 km/h.
Outside, the V10 Plus is differentiated from the standard V10 from its fixed carbon fiber rear wing, carbon fiber side blades, and standard 20 inch alloy wheels. Inside those alloy wheels are standard carbon ceramic brakes, with six-piston calipers up front, and four-pistons at the rear, which provide the ultimate in brake fade resistance, track day after track day use. Matrix LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, LED rear lights, and sequential dynamic LED turn signals, highlight the sophisticated look of the Audi R8.
Inside, the V10 Plus is a stunner. The interior is such a futuristic and fantastic place to be, and just like with the Gallardo, one can even argue that the R8’s interior looks even better than the Huracan’s. In place of the MMI infotainment system, the Audi R8 is only equipped with Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, which means it has a 12.1 inch TFT LCF display for gauges, and the MMI infotainment system is integrated directly into the display for a more driver focused and clutter free interior. Navigation is offered as standard equipment.
Pricing for the Audi R8 V10 Plus is only upon application, as these cars are sensitive to foreign exchange fluctuations.
If you are interested in purchasing a Subaru WRX STI and other Subies, scroll down to see more details.
If you want a 4-door compact sedan that is practical to use everyday, has the blistering performance of a sports car, and has the World Rally Championship heritage to back its blistering performance, you always had two choices. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, or the Subaru Impreza WRX STI. With the death of the Lancer Evolution, however, you’re now left with only one. This, however, has actually opened up competition to other manufacturers offering high performance cars with AWD powertrains in other parts of the world, such as the Volkswagen Golf R and Ford Focus RS, but basically in the Philippines, Subaru monopolizes the segment right now, and it’s still the go to car for tuners and fans who want a rally car for everyday use. With a strong following thanks to a host of video games such as the Playstation game Gran Turismo, and movies such as The Fast and The Furious, will people looking for an Evo eventually give in to Subaru?
Starting with this generation, Subaru wanted to separate the WRX and WRX STI from the Impreza line-up, and have a line-up of its own, so if you think we had a typo when we did not mention “Impreza” in the title, it’s because of that. Perhaps rally bred also may be a wrong term now, because starting with this generation of the Impre… err, WRX STI, Subaru has focused instead on the Nurburgring 24-hour endurance race, which is also no bad thing since rarely do car enthusiasts race these cars on the dirt road anyway. This had led to a look that looks more race car than rally car. A longer wheelbase than the Impreza makes the car feel more stable. The front and rear axles have been widened to provide better cornering, hence the widened wheel arches, with the integration of side gills at the front wheel arches for better aerodynamics, and the 18 inch BBS forged alloy wheels look really great. Inside those forged alloy wheels hide some powerful Brembo brakes. This being the Premium variant, the large rear wing has been deleted, making for a more subdued and “elegant” WRX STI, so they say. Do we miss it? Yes, and no. Yes, because it created the distinction between the friendlier WRX and the more hardcore WRX STI, and no because it makes the WRX STI more of a sleeper. Many people such as me appreciate high performance cars that only give small hints on its performance capabilities, but if you do miss the rear wing, just purchase an aftermarket spoiler, or the standard WRX STI, which unfortunately will delete some of the features found in this Premium model, but costs P100,000 less.
If you’ve been on any other Subaru lately, then the interior won’t wow you in any sort of way. Sure, it has Recaro sports seats, carbon-look interior trim, splashes of red, an STI shift knob, and more STI badging around the cabin, but apart from that, it’s any other recent Subaru we’ve been in. It is a good or bad thing depending on where you’re coming from, but nevertheless, it’s still a nice place to be. The interior has an ergonomic layout, with all controls laid out in a logical manner. 2016 models now include Subaru’s new touchscreen infotainment system with soft capacitive buttons around the screen. The interior is pretty much okay, with soft touch plastics on top of the dash and the door, and body hugging Recaro sports seats that keep you in place under hard cornering. If you’ve noticed in the pictures that the steering wheel’s leather is worn out, it’s because this is the same WRX STI used by stunt driver Russ Swift, which he uses to perform his stunts every year at the Manila International Auto Show.
Space and Practicality
For such as car in this performance caliber, the interior practicality is no different from any other typical sedan. Door bins are available on all doors and the front ones are big enough to hold a liter of bottled water, and there are just enough nook and crannies to place your items in. The back seats are spacious enough for 2 tall adults and 1 smaller adult, due to the large transmission tunnel eating up foot space for the middle passenger. The middle seats are also raised due to the AWD drivetrain, making taller adults suffer as a consequence. On the other hand, there’s a spacious trunk that’s cavernous enough for most trips to the supermarket.
Features and Safety
The Subaru WRX STI is equipped with automatic LED headlights with LED positioning lamps, LED tail lights, rain sensing wipers, smart key with passive entry and push button start, Bluetooth Audio and Telephone, 8-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat, automatic climate control, power folding mirrors, rear view camera, SI Drive (drive mode selector) a color multi-information eyebrow display that features information such as fuel economy, and where the AWD system sends power to, which is pretty fun to watch, and other features that are typically seen in cars nowadays. 2016 models now have a touch screen infotainment system that can display information more cohesively and looks a lot more modern than the 2DIN radio system that is used in this 2015 model. In terms of safety, the Subaru WRX STI comes with ABS with EBD, traction control, and the AWD drivetrain has the capability to disconnect the engine when there is a front collision, preventing the engine from intruding the cabin and reducing the risk of injuries.
The Subaru WRX STI is powered by the EJ25 boxer engine. It’s a carry over from the previous generation with modifications made for better refinement and reliability. As ever, it produces 305 hp @ 6,000 rpm and 470 Nm of torque @ 4,000 rpm. Contrary to most turbocharged engines nowadays, peak torque is still at a higher rpm, rather than spread evenly across the rev range, making the driver truly ring the most out of the engine to extract all of its capabilities. Power is sent through all four wheels through a 6-speed manual transmission, the only transmission available.
How It Drives
The Subaru WRX STI’s platform is heavily different from the Impreza, another reason why the Impreza name was dropped. The WRX STI has a longer wheelbase over the Impreza for better stability. Added chassis bracing and a revised suspension over the previous generation should ensure flatter cornering and supposedly, a more civilized car to drive.
Pushing the start button emanates a burble that is distinctly Subaru. Sound tubes are added into the car’s structure, pumping in certain levels of engine and turbo noise into the cabin, further amplifying (no pun intended) the driving experience. The boxer rumble is present as ever, and its sound is a dead giveaway to onlookers that what you are driving is a Subaru WRX STI. Escaping the outskirts of Alabang and into Daang Hari, we stumble upon ourselves a surprisingly refined driving characteristic especially compared to past WRX STIs. The wide tires and large 18-inch BBS forged alloy wheels let in road noise, but not to the level we were expecting. Leaving the Si Drive in intelligent lets the car sort itself out, but this does not make the suspension softer, unfortunately. As expected, the ride is very firm, and on bumpier roads, the ride can get really tiring, but we’re mainly driving on smoother road surfaces, so if you daily commute means traversing through these kinds of roads, then the WRX STI won’t be an annoyance.
Out on clearer sections of road, we flick it to Sport# (Sport Sharp, not Sport Hashtag) to bring out the best that the WRX STI can unleash, and with that, we’re not disappointed. On lower revs, the WRX STI tends to be sluggish, but once the turbos spool, the car delivers blisteringly fast acceleration times. With a quotes time of 0-100 kph in 5.2 seconds, the Subaru WRX STI is anything but slow, and slushing through the gears prove to be really fun, however, the worn out clutch of this specific Subaru WRX STI that Russ Swift has used in his stunts can be very awkward to use in traffic or parking. The car corners pretty flat and understeer has been dialed down, making for a more engaging drive. Upon finding a closed section of road, we were able to even extract more out of the WRX STI, and the car continues to impress. The clutch, brake, and gas pedals are positioned nicely enough to perform heel and toeing. Keep the revs up, and the Subaru WRX STI’s throttle responds with lightning reflexes that ensures neck braking performance when the roads permit. It’s also quite surprising how dialed in the outside noise is even at very high speeds. Speed is scrubbed well by the powerful Brembo brakes, which are designed to be capable of handling immense braking on the track with minimal fading.
On The Downside
Going back once again to public roads, we begin to notice some of the Subaru WRX STIs weak points. The engine sure sounds great, but there’s never a point where it becomes quiet enough for most people, and over time, it can become tiring as the engine rarely fades into the background. It’s never an issue for us, but for some who wants something quieter, it may prove tiresome. Consequently, the stiff suspension also means a stiff ride, and while the ride is relatively okay on the roads we’re in, on bumpier roads, the WRX STI can become really tiresome. Lastly, as our drive mostly concentrated on high speed driving, fuel economy is measly, at 4.5 km/l, but treat it more sensibly, and 6 km/l in the city is still possible, and 11 km/l in the highway is achievable.
The Subaru WRX STI can be your friend or foe depending on where you’re coming from. If you were to ask us, the WRX STI is our friend, since it’s basically a 4-door sports car. Despite the annoyances of having a high performance car, on the kind of road conditions we live in, the annoyances are just minor niggles. If your daily commute includes driving on EDSA, then the WRX STI may just prove to be an annoyance. Either way, the WRX STI has always catered to a specific set of people such as us who desire performance. The saying goes, “why fix what isn’t broken”, and the WRX STI, even if it delineates from the Impreza nameplate, continues the recipe that the Impreza WRX STI has soldiered on for the past 20 years, but with improvements to further make the recipe a much more delightful experience, and everyone of course wants a more delightful experience. Will Lancer Evolution fans give in to Subaru? Well, these people tend to be loyal to their brands, it’s going to be hard to tell, but some Evolution fans have expressed dismay over the Evolution X, which was too friendly to drive due to its sophisticated AWD system and dual-clutch transmission. For these Evolution fans looking for a much more raw experience, then the WRX STI should suffice.
A special thanks to Subaru Alabang and Subaru Manila Bay for providing us the Subaru WRX STI. If you are interested in this Subaru WRX STI and other Subies, contact Lloyd Mendoza (0927) 280 9933 for more information.
Volvo is a Swedish luxury car brand that has always been synonymous with safety in mind, bringing innovations such as the 3-point seatbelt we now use today. We’ve witnessed plenty of good looking cars from the Swedish brand, and as a matter of fact, many won’t argue that Volvo’s entire line-up are all blessed with good looks, and a great sense of sporty driving dynamics in their more youth oriented cars such as the V40, S60, V60 and XC60, while those that cater to an older demographic have a great sense of comfort, such as the S80 (now replaced by the S90) and this, the Volvo XC90. Unfortunately for Volvo, the brand has not enjoyed the massive attention that its German rivals receive, and maybe, just maybe, we believe the XC90 will finally lead Volvo to have the attention it deserves.
The XC90 is the first Volvo that carries the brand’s new design language, and it’s a great looking one at that. Premiered by the Volvo Coupe Concept back in 2013, Volvo’s new design language has been designed to evoke contemporary Scandinavian design. It begins with the upright front design, which brings a more imposing face than the usually sleek competition with raked designs. The new face for Volvo also includes the T-shaped “Thor’s Hammer” LED daytime running lights embedded into the adaptive LED headlights, which evokes confidence and authority to any onlooker. The hood dome has been enlarged, which brings aesthetic and more importantly, safety improvements, as it means that when the XC90 hits a pedestrian, the hood can serve as a cushion. The side profile is dominated by the typically wide shoulders that a modern Volvo usually carries, and at the back, typical with any Volvo SUV or wagon, LED tail lights follow the XC90’s bold rear silhouette.
The interior is a game of Swedish minimalism, where less clutter means more desirability. Volvo has pulled out all the stops when designing the interior. As a matter of fact, it was the interior that Volvo first revealed to the public weeks before the XC90’s global debut. The interior is richly made, with almost an absence of hard cheap feeling plastics, with every touch point by plush soft touch plastics, leather, wood and/or aluminum. Everything feels solid and premium, and is truly deserving for a car of this caliber. The absence of buttons has meant that everything has been moved towards the large 9-inch touch screen, which is (literally) as big as an iPad Air’s screen. The seats, meanwhile, are really comfortable to sit in while stuck in EDSA on hours’ end. Volvo has a reputation for making some of the most comfortable seats of any car, period, and aiding its ergonomic design are a wide range of adjustments for both the driver and passenger. At the second row seats, the climate controls are located in the middle behind the front central armrest, which are not actually buttons, but capacitive touch points that continues the button-less interior theme of the Volvo XC90.
Space and Practicality
The Volvo XC90 has been designed as a true 7-seater SUV, which means that even the third row seats can fit 2 adults, and we believe them. While not spacious for our tall height (5 foot 10 and 5 foot 11), we wouldn’t mind sitting back here because space is decent, which means smaller adults or kids won’t have any complaints in the back. Volvo claims that the third row seats have been designed to sit 5 foot 7 tall people comfortable, and we won’t argue with them for that. Fold down the rear seats and you get a huge trunk to spare. There are plenty of storage spaces inside, and one neat thing about the glove box is that, it opens via a touch sensor when you swipe your hand across the aluminum trim on the dashboard, which, again, continues the button-less theme of the XC90’s interior. Space in the second row is excellent, with 3 full size adults feeling completely fine. There’s a small hump in the middle of the floor, but the outer footwells are so large, there’s enough space for everyone’s feet. Interior space is further aided by the large glass area, which brings in plenty of light, providing the occupants an airy feel.
Features and Safety
Immediately noticeable upon stepping into the vehicle is the large 12-inch TFT LCD gauge display, which is standard on all XC90 variants. Complimenting this LCD display is another large 9-inch LCD touchscreen system that houses the Volvo Sensus infotainment system. The tactile feel of the screen is similar to that of an iPad, complete with an oleophobic coating (which makes fingerprints easy to remove). Anyone who has used any high end tablet in their lifetime will treat the Volvo Sensus system as second nature. There’s little learning curve, as the swipe, pinch, and scroll gestures are unchanged from what one would experience in a tablet. The system comes equipped with Apple CarPlay, while Android Auto will soon be available. Apart from the multimedia systems, there’s electronic seat controls, trunk, automatic headlights and wipers, adaptive LED headlights, and more.
Being a Volvo, there’s plenty of safety kit as standard such as Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go, Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Warning, and Volvo’s City Safety, which is a standard feature on every single Volvo, but apart from these now garden variety advanced safety systems, Volvo has innovated a feature wherein the XC90 will put a lot of tension in the seatbelt in order to hold you in place if the vehicle detects the car going away from the road unintentionally. This continued innovation in the field of safety is part of Volvo’s goal of eliminating deaths in a new Volvo by 2020. Ditto to the small engine bay for such a large car, because this enables the XC90 to have a large front crash absorption structure, reducing the risk of death in a head-on collision.
The Volvo XC90 we have here is a D5 Momentum variant, in which the D stands for diesel. Don’t ask us on why it’s 5, because we don’t even have any idea why. The new XC90 is powered by a new plethora of Drive-E engines, and what we have here is a 2.0 liter twin-turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel engine, which, on size, does not sound much, but due to the turbochargers, it produces a beefy 225 hp and a meaty 450 Nm of torque, which is sent via an 8-Speed Automatic through all four wheels. Want a large V8 engine for this large SUV? Look elsewhere. The fastest XC90 is a plug-in hybrid variant, which we don’t get here in the Philippines. The other engine option is a 2.0 liter Drive-E turbocharged and direct injected petrol engine.
How It Drives
Notice that throughout all the review, we’ve mentioned Sweden for quite a number of times. Instead of trying to be all German-like with its sporty but comfortable driving dynamics, or tire-shredding blistering performance, the XC90 steps back and does not pretend to be one. Instead, it’s a very comfortable SUV that, if you treat it correctly based on what type of vehicle it is, will reward you with such a wonderful driving experience. We prefer sporty and great handling cars regardless of category, but it’s refreshing to be able to enjoy driving a car in a relaxed pace this time. The overall theme for how this thing rides and drives is the practice of restraint. You won’t enjoy throwing this XC90 into hard corners, though body control is predictable, as the XC90 does not pitch and dive under hard braking or acceleration. The front uses a double wishbone suspension geometry, but the rear has a unique suspension set up. It employs a mutli-link geometry, but instead of coil springs, the multi-link suspension uses leaf springs. Sound archaic? Somehow, because leaf springs are what you’d typically find in heavy duty pick up trucks and commuter vans, but because of the suspension geometry, it is able to provide excellent ride characteristics, without feeling floaty. Plus, the rear suspension won’t sag as much if the XC90 is fully loaded with 7 people.
As this is pretty much a city drive, we are not able to fully evaluate how the car behaves out on an open stretch of road or highway, but luckily, we were able to test the XC90 in its different driving modes. In normal mode, in moments where overtaking is needed, some careful planning is needed, because the 2.0 liter diesel engine takes time for the turbos to spool up, and the 8-Speed Automatic does not help the case either. It’s a turbo engine, so there’s definitely some lag before the engine and transmission responds when suddenly mashing your foot. In normal driving situations, however, the engine and gearbox are well matched to deliver a smooth power delivery. Somehow curing the lag when suddenly making the XC90 launch forward is by switching the drive mode into Sport mode, however, Sport mode seems to be too touchy at times when driving in the city.
On The Downside
If a sporty SUV is what you’re after, then the Volvo XC90 is not your type of SUV. The BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne still remain the most dynamic choices, and if it’s image and presence that you’re after, the Range Rover Sport carries plenty more of it. While we’re on the subject of image, I find it odd not being able to see an image of what’s behind me in this XC90, because, ladies and gentlemen, this P6,495,000 large luxury SUV does not come equipped with a rear view camera. Okay, sure, it’s got plenty of sensors and a diagram in the Volvo Sensus screen to complement it, but if it’s something standard in some sub-P1 million vehicles, I don’t see a reason why it shouldn’t be standard in something that costs more than 6 times more. This are just nitpicking though, as I can live without the rear view camera, since the all around visibility is great, aided by the said plethora of sensors.
Volvo has been chasing after the Germans by trying hard to be the Germans. While it’s great that many of their cars are good looking and sporty to drive depending on the model you’re choosing, it’s the Swedish values that make up a Volvo in the first place. We’ve been raised to be the best of ourselves, and the Volvo XC90 applies that human value we have been taught by our parents and teachers, and if the sales numbers and massive growth Volvo is experiencing overseas is any indicator of its success, then I think Volvo has nailed it with the new XC90. Too bad that Volvo has always been underrated here in the Philippines, because Volvo certainly deserves more attention in our market. It’s about time we’ve seen more Volvo XC90s in the streets of the Philippines, because the XC90 is one heck of a good large SUV that can carry 7 people in comfort and safety that only a Volvo can deliver.