SOME may lament modern life as blighted by health and safety, reject ‘nanny’ advice on diet and lifestyle but there would soon be an outcry if manufacturers stopped paying attention to passive protection in car their cars.
All makers want a top NCAP score and strive to reassure buyers that should things go wrong they are as safe as possible.
Others, like Volvo have historically gone the extra mile.
There are very many lovely things about a Volvo, but it is difficult to shake off the safety first image.
More air bags than a balloon race, side impact bars, even those outside the car are safer thanks to pedestrian sensors.
The all-wheel drive XC90 also has rollover protection using a gyro-sensor to register how the car is pitched which automatically activates the traction control.
You can probably drive it off a cliff with risk of little more than mild whiplash. In fact it would be no surprise to find it has a parachute for just such distressing events.
It would be futile for Volvo to rely solely on a belt and braces approach to safety. When you have paid out £42,310 for the R Design Premium, personal security is important but so is comfort and added extras. And there’s plenty of those two. Not much has been left off the standard equipment list, sat nav and Bluetooth are all that sets the Premium aside.
For the record you will get air conditioning and cruise control, an easy to use radio, in fact all the switchgear is sensible, and the expected electrics.
If you have a dog ask about the factory fitted guard. It’s the best in the business.
There is no petrol version, just the 200bhp five-cylinder diesel. Volvo arrived at this decision based on the buying pattern of previous models.
It’s a quiet diesel with a sprint to 62mph of 9.7 seconds and plenty of muscle. Combined consumption is 34mpg. Carbon is deposited at 219g/km.
An automatic gearbox is also the only choice. But this is not a case of Volvo offering Hobson's Choice. Again it is what customers have wanted and smoother Geartronic change adds to a comfortable ride, effortless when tackling the long game. Wind and road noise is low and there is a practically put together cabin. Seven seats, too and a split tailgate.
Not that the XC is lacking in the field. It looks suitably rugged in a middle England way and while limited to moderate terrain, performs adequately off road with the all-wheel drive system prejudiced towards the front wheels but transferring grip when slippage is detected.
Farmland is likely to be its secondary habitat. With the marque’s popularity among a certain demographic, in town work is more than likely. Yes it’s beefy although the expansive interior space is cleverly achieved without resorting to a massive platform. Low speed steering can feel numb.
Volvo XC90 Premium
Mechanical: 200bhp, 2,400cc, 5cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox
Max speed: 127mph
0-62mph: 9.7 seconds
Combined mpg: 34
Insurance group: n/a
CO2 emissions: 219g/km
BIK rating: 35%
Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles