Volvo XC90 interior
London - Arab Today
The new XC90 promises a unique blend of comfort, safety, performance and idiosyncratic Swedish touches, such as a handcrafted crystal glass gear lever and diamond-cut control buttons.
Traditionally, it's difficult to get excited about Volvos. For too many years it's been a brand associated with an obsession with safety. This is by no means a bad thing: thanks to Volvo, all new cars, everywhere in the world, have seatbelts.
However, while safety is still very much part of the company's DNA, it has also rediscovered its sense of fun and of expression in recent years. It started slowly and subtly, for example, by crowbarring huge, powerful, turbocharged engines into its otherwise practical and sensible estate cars. But over the past 12 months it has also demonstrated a new fluidity and freedom of design with three concept vehicles, shown at three of the major international motor shows and winning three best-of-show prizes in the process.
All of which brings us to the new XC90, Volvo's flagship vehicle, a seven-seat SUV. The company knows it has to have something truly special if it wants to compete in an ever more crowded market. Demand for off-roaders of all shapes and sizes has never been greater and the choice on offer from every manufacturer at every price point has never been bigger and is poised to get even bigger still.
The original XC90 was a hit because of its focus on families and the features they needed for transporting large numbers of children around in safety and comfort. And for the new model, which will be revealed in full in August, Volvo is promising to take everything to another level, starting with the interior -- the first details of which it published Tuesday.
The new car promises soft leathers, wood finishes and levels of craftsmanship that are more common in Range Rovers. But this old-world comfort sits side-by-side with the latest technology. There are very few buttons or knobs on the car's dashboard, replaced by a large innovative tablet that has a user interface specifically developed to make operation safe, with minimal distraction. And of course, it will be one of the first cars to support Apple's CarPlay iPhone integration technology.
"The customer and the customer experience are at the heart of everything we do at Volvo Cars. We don't do technology for technology's sake -- everything in a Volvo is there to make our cars safer and more pleasurable to drive," said Alain Visser, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Sales and Customer Service of Volvo Cars.
And then there's the crystal glass gear lever courtesy of Swedish glassmaker Orrefors and the diamond-cut buttons for the stop/start and volume controls which Volvo hopes will become ‘the jewels of the interior'. "They add a bit of exclusive playfulness rather than pure functionality," said Robin Page, Volvo Cars's Interior Design Director.
The XC90 also promises new levels of driver safety and semi-autonomous driving technology, the details of which will be revealed in the coming weeks.