2016 Volvo XC90 R-Design Polestar Review

2016 Volvo XC90 R-Design Polestar-Optimized road test and review

There’s a new performance SUV model on the Australian market with Volvo now offering the Volvo XC90 R-Design with Polestar optimization.

Based on the standard R-Design grade of the Volvo XC90, the Polestar pack adds special software that takes power and torque from the 2.0 litre turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine from 235kW/400Nm to 246kW/440Nm.

That extra Polestar kick bringing o-100km/h sprint time down to just 6.4 seconds, from 6.5.

The Volvo XC90 R-Design already has a sporty look and feel, the extra Polestar grunt and distinctive Polestar badges made for quite a nice combo.

The 2016 Volvo XC90 is a very special car. In fact, I would go as far as to say that this is the best Volvo ever-built.

The first in a new generation of Volvo cars, the XC90 was one of our Car of the Year finalists last year and if it wasn’t for the somewhat lofty price tag, it could have been a worthy winner.

You could certainly make the argument though that the R-Design variant doesn’t quite shine as brightly as the standard Volvo XC90 variants (such as in this review we did earlier this year).

The reason for this is that the 45 Series tyres on the 20″ alloy wheels tend to ruin the ride.

I know, this is the sporty one, I just didn’t expect a ride quite as firm as what the Volvo exhibited.

I also wasn’t quite expecting the fuel consumption. Volvo claims the Polestar-enhanced set-up should still return 8.0L/100km combined.

My time driving the Volvo, including about 400km of highway driving, returned an average of 11.1L/100km. Not terrible consumption, but more than I might have expected.

Is there anything else I would change about the XC90 R-Design? Yes.

The stop/start system tends to really jerk the vehicle forward when you lift your foot off the brake.

This is really evident when you just want the engine to start again so you can slowly crawl forward.

There is also a lack of adaptive control cruise control.

Sure, you can have this as part of the $4,000 IntelliSafe Assist pack, but really it should be standard and is a glaring omission in a car that is such a good highway tourer.

That pack, for the record, also adds Forward Collision Warning, Lane-Keep Assist and a Speed Limiter.

Digital Radio? Nope, that’s another $500!

How about keyless entry? My test car didn’t have it and gee you miss it when you’re used to it.

This feature is available in a $975 pack that also adds puddle-lights and a remote key tag.

The test car was fitted with Heated Front Seats ($650), Tinted Rear Glass ($850), Laminated Side Windows ($525), and Metallic Paint ($1,900)

So, as you can see, the $100,000+ price tag starts to blow out a bit to get many extras that are standard on many much less expensive offerings, added to the big Volvo SUV.

In saying all that, as mentioned, the 2016 Volvo XC90 is a quality offering.

The sporty R-Design seats are a work of art, there’s a surprising amount of room in all three rows of seats, including a reasonable amount of boot space even with the third-row in play.

The XC90 R-Design moves along very nicely, though it does lack a decent engine growl. The handling for a big and bulky seven-seat SUV is excellent and the brakes are superb.

Fit and finish in the cabin, the huge ‘iPad’ type centre control screen is gorgeous and the full digital driver display screen is functional and attractive.

Everything just feels superb inside the cabin, storage areas are more than adequate and the built-in booster seat is a terrific idea (the seven-year old in the family gave it a thumbs up!).

Summing it up: the 2016 Volvo XC90 is a likable car and that Polestar enhancement gives it the kick to be a genuine performance SUV offering.

There are plenty of features missing from the XC90 though, and when already talking six-figures, be prepared to hand over plenty of cash should you decide to join the Volvo owners club.

NUTS and BOLTS - 2016 Volvo XC90 R-Design with Polestar optimization

Engine: 2.0 turbocharged/supercharged petrol producing 246kW/440Nm

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Safety: Not tested

Warranty: Three years

Origin: Sweden

Price: from $101,950

About Joel Helmes 2669 Articles
Joel is the founder and CEO of Behind the Wheel. Joel has a background as a radio broadcaster with on-air roles at 4BC, 4KQ, 2KY, 2LT and 2UE amongst others, as well as a news editor and program director. Joel’s relationship with cars stems back to his early childhood learning to change oil and brakes with his father and uncle. This continued on into his driving years owning an assorted collection of cars.

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