Back to the Future

Museums are defined as “a building or institution where objects of artistic, historical, or scientific importance and value are kept, studied, and put on display”. FMM is no exception, but occasionally a new vehicle is offered to the museum for a brief evaluation. Here we look at one of Volvo’s latest offerings…


The XC90 mid-size SUV has been part of Volvo’s line-up for 20 years and first appeared in SA in 2004. At the end of 2014, the second generation XC90 was introduced, based on a new global platform. Both generations of the XC90 have won ‘Motor Trend’ magazine’s SUV of the Year award on their debuts.

FMM recently had the XC90 B5 Geartronic AWD Inscription for a few days. SUVs are almost by definition similar in outline and the Volvo’s lines are familiar and modern. It is powered by a ‘mild hybrid’ 2,0-litre high-pressure turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with a 48V Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) developing 180 kW of peak power and maximum torque of 350 N.m. Transmission is an 8-speed Geartronic automatic with AWD. Fuel consumption is given as 7,1 litres/100km and 0-100 km/h acceleration in 7,7 seconds.

Standard features include:

  • Intellisafe Assist (includes City Safety with pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection and front and rear collision warning with full auto brake)
  • Intelligent Driver Information System (IDIS)
  • Road Sign Information (RSI)
  • Lane Keeping Aid
  • Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Pilot Assist
  • Volvo On Call (VOC)
  • Keyless entry with remote tag and hands-free tailgate opening
  • Park Assist – front and rear
  • Electronic Climate Control, 4-zone
  • 4-way power adjustable seat lumbar support
  • High-level LED headlights with cornering function
  • Front and rear fog lights, fronts with cornering function

The test car was fitted with a number of added-cost items.

FMM Curator Wayne Harley: “The short time I spent with the Volvo left me in two minds about whether I liked the car or not. To be honest, it’s a great looking car with an amazing sound system (a Harman/Kardon premium system on-cost option).  However, the power delivery definitely didn’t impress me. ECO mode just feels numb and I feel even the most hardened environmentalist would agree. Comfort mode is an improvement and does pull you around town as needed. In Dynamic mode, the Volvo feels like too much car for too little engine. Acceleration is disappointing, but then again this is a large SUV. As for the rest, overall the XC 90 is exactly what you would expect from a top league SUV with one of the highest safety standards. Build quality is up there with the best.

“If you enjoy driving and are looking for a little more bang for your buck, then I would consider a German SUV, even if you pay a little more. The Volvo’s performance figures are all relatively close to rival models, but others feel like they have more pep. Nevertheless, the XC90 B5 is a very good and safe family vehicle, which is what Volvo designed it for.”

Motoring journalist and FMM consultant Mike Monk: “I drove the XC90 from the museum to the top of the Franschhoek Pass and back and found it to be a comfortable, safe and predictable car to drive. As a long-time SUV owner, I think the XC90’s performance is well on par for its target audience. It is a sensible package and the B5 technology adds to the appeal. Yes, it is expensive, but again on par with its rivals.”

Base price of the XC90 B5 Geartronic AWD Inscription is R1 309 900. Price as tested R1 427 800. The Volvo has a 5-year/100 000 km warranty and a 5-year/100 000 km full maintenance plan.


New and old: the 2022 XC90 was photographed at FMM alongside the museum’s two Volvo 122S sedans, one from 1963 and the other from 1970.