Subscribe
Search articles
When Mercedes-Benz introduced the first-generation M-Class in 1997 and kick-started the segment for on-road-biased luxury SUVs, few people would have predicted that such vehicles would be as popular – and therefore profitable – as they are now.

When planning this comparative test, it was soon clear the line-up of competitors could have been far larger. We had the option of including the always excellent Porsche Cayenne, Volkswagen’s underrated Touareg, Jeep’s left-field Grand Cherokee and the Range Rover Sport, a multiple champion in our annual Top 12 Best Buys awards programme. Except for the Grand Cherokee, which in any event was rudimentary before this current generation and would never have qualified for luxury SUV status, none of those vehicle existed before the M-Class’ arrival.

Nor did first generations of the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90. The former made its debut in 2005, while the latter joined the market three years earlier. Each had comparatively long model cycles and felt outclassed near the end of their market tenure. The vehicles you see on these pages represent each carmaker’s new take on what’s now become a tried-and-trusted recipe.

And the BMW X5? Well, that vehicle was a sales hit right from its launch in 1999 and to this day – now in its third iteration – has remained one of the SUVs the revised Volvo and Audi must beat. Let war commence.

OUTSIDE AND IN
The first-generation Q7 was a leviathan, measuring more than five metres long and two metres wide, and appeared as large as the shadow it cast. Its ungainly proportions and brutish front-end were perfectly in step with the ostentatious mid-2000s, but its air of unchecked excess found fewer devotees in more recent austere times (except in the US, where sales rose to records highs in 2013). The new model, although only slightly smaller in all measurable planes, has been wrought to downplay its (still) inflated size. More Avant than SUV in the way the sheet metal stretches low and straight towards the gently tapered rear-end, the Q7 eschews the traditional SUV styling cues in favour of gently sweeping side panels, horizontal elements front and rear and a less aggressive interpretation of Audi’s traditional hexagonal grille. Is it bland? Perhaps, but the Florett Silver paintwork of our test vehicle did it few favours. What’s without question is the quality of the paintwork, the uniformity of the panel gaps and the attention to fine detail in the optional Matrix LED headlamps (R38 500).

The Q7 may be understated, but its breeding is obvious.

Far more recognisably SUV in shape, the X5’s design is perhaps too familiar for the vehicle to stand out in a parking lot owing to its shared elements with other members of the X-family, as well as the sheer numbers on our roads. That said, if you’ve got the money, we’d recommend the M Sport body kit fitted to this test vehicle (R48 800). It enlivens the appearance in key places – the deeper bumpers and lovely alloy wheels are highlights – and adds a number of trim tweaks to the cabin.

Neither German garnered as much attention from other road users as the Volvo, however. Painted in deep-gloss black paint and sitting on beautiful jewel-like 20-inch wheels, it’s the best-looking vehicle here without appearing crass or overwrought.
The Volvo repeats this stellar performance inside. Trimmed in cream leather with brushed metallic and wood accents, the cabin feels airy and expertly assembled. All touch points are trimmed in silky leather or covered in soft-touch plastic, while the portrait-oriented infotainment system that controls all major functions limits the hard-button count. However, relegating the climate control system’s functions to the touchscreen has meant that familiarity is needed to toggle settings on the move. Likewise, the standard-fitment TFT instrument screen does require a scan through the owner’s manual before use.
Far more traditional in layout than that of the Swedish SUV, the X5’s interior is a cinch to use. Countless sensible updates to the initially maligned iDrive system have resulted in the user-friendliest setup here; using the rotary knob on the transmission tunnel soon becomes second nature. Quality is excellent throughout but for some cheaper plastic on the lid of the centre console cubby and air vents, while the seating position couldn’t be better.

Neither vehicle quite matches the Q7 for perceived quality, though. Emitting nary a squeak or rattle, the cabin feels as solid as a bank vault (an impression reinforced by the muted thunk when closing the hefty doors). We love the silky smooth operation of the climate control knobs – and the system’s screen that highlights functions as a hand approaches – the best cabin lighting here and the fact that the stubby gearlever cleverly stands in for a hand rest when twiddling the MMI controller that sits aft of an additional touch pad for written input. The Virtual Cockpit instrument screen (a R8 950 option) has a crystal-clear display and widely adjustable menu system.

SPACE FOR FIVE… OR SEVEN
Thanks to the use of the VW Group’s new scalable MLB-Evo platform – here stretched to 2 994 mm – the Q7 has loads of room both front and rear. This clever utilisation of space is perhaps the single biggest improvement over the outgoing model, which offered less occupant space than the heady dimensions suggested. Scalp clearance front and rear is the best of the trio, and the boot is the largest with the sliding second row of seats in their rearmost position. Fold those forward in a ratio of 40:20:40 and 1 472 dm3 is at a user’s disposal. Rear-seat occupants have access to individually adjustable air-con controls courtesy of the four-zone system, and a third row of seats can be specified.

However, the Audi can’t quite match the smaller Volvo’s space for passengers and their luggage. Offering a nominal 144 dm3 of luggage capacity with the third row erected, which can seat two adults at a pinch, the XC90 affords its owner the option of extending the size of the boot through 464 dm3 with five seats for passengers (with the bench set to its forward-most position) to a gargantuan 1 560 dm3 of utility room. All isn’t rosy, though – the Volvo’s firm second row seating doesn’t quite provide the long-distance comfort of the sumptuous front-row chairs, or of the bench installed in the third competitor here, the X5.

The BMW has the shortest body length and wheelbase, and it shows inside where the luggage bay is the tightest both lengthways and in terms of width, and headroom all-round is less generous, but its second-row seating is fabulously comfortable and supportive for two adults. Add a third occupant to the mix, though, and the narrow centre seat and transmission tunnel will force them into a compromised seating position. The optional third row of seats (R22 600) should be occupied only by children.

WHAT YOUR MONEY BUYS YOU
There’s very little difference between the Audi and BMW’s standard specification. Both vehicles offer xenon headlamps as standard, while the X5 counters the Q7’s satellite-navigation with full electric adjustment on its front seats (bizarrely, this is a R8 050 option on the latter).

The XC90 bests them both with, among other items, LED headlamps, 20-inch wheels, Nappa leather, the third row of seats and a number of safety and convenience features such as lane-departure warning and head-up display.

UNDER THE BONNETS
Volvo will in future offer no larger internal-combustion engine than this 2,0-litre four-cylinder unit, either in petrol- or diesel-propelled. For those buyers who desire more power and torque, the units will be supplemented with alternative-energy powertrains – such as the electric unit in the soon-to-arrive hybrid XC90 T8 – but this is the most powerful diesel engine you can buy currently in the flagship SUV.

Developing 165 kW and 470 N.m, on paper the 2,0-litre turbodiesel is outgunned, and so it proves on the road. To accelerate from standstill to the 100 km/h mark, the XC90 D5 needed a whole 1,95 seconds more than the quickest vehicle here, the Q7. Working in the Swedish vehicle’s favour is a slick-shifting, close-ratio eight-speed automatic transmission and the lightest mass of the three, but there’s no ignoring the fact that Volvo’s lauded approach to downsizing asks its owner to accept certain performance and refinement compromises (most notably a rattly engine note on start-up and a deep drone under acceleration). Once up to speed, however, the D5 propels the XC90 with decent gusto.

Doing a far better job of disguising the host vehicle’s heft (in this case, the heaviest one here at 2 265 kg) is the X5’s creamy 3,0-litre turbodiesel. It’s smoother than any other oil-burner of similar size, even when it operates in the vicinity of its 5 400 r/min red line, and finds the perfect partner in the flawless eight-speed ZF-developed automatic transmission.

Somewhat grumblier when extended but still commendably refined, the Audi’s 3,0-litre V6 never feels anything less than potent, whether the vehicle is pootling along on congested roads or merging with faster-moving traffic on the highway. It’s the quickest here from a standstill and between the gears – again, actuated by a great eight-speeder – and supplements the German car’s refined cabin (the Volvo is quiet, too, but its side mirrors kick up noticeable wind rustle; the BMW struggles slightly with wind rush across the large windscreen but suppresses road roar well).

ON-ROAD, BUT NOT OFF
In terms of on-road dynamics, the three vehicles are easier to split, but with a caveat: the Q7 we tested featured air springs (R30 500), unlike the XC90 (R26 500) and X5 (only on the rear axle as part of the M Sport package), which accounts for its excellent ride but made a direct comparison with the other two tricky. As it stands, it’s an option we’d tick because it affords the Q7 a gently loping gait that’s wonderfully soothing on longer journeys. There’s a slightly firm edge to the way it deals with lumps and bumps at city-bound speeds, but the optional 20-inch wheels on 45-profile tyres shoulder some of the blame. But this is a slight criticism – if you’re an owner of the previous Q7, the new version’s maturity in this respect will be a revelation.

The Audi’s steering ratio is perhaps a touch too quick at 2,8 turns lock-to-lock and cautious inputs to the wheel translate into generous lean angles in faster bends, but this characteristic can be quelled by switching the adaptive-damping system to a sportier setting.

At the other end of the spectrum rests the X5. Controlling its body better than the Audi when its Driver Experience Control system is set to default comfort mode, the BMW can be flung through corners with measured enthusiasm. Imagine a massive hatchback and you wouldn’t be far off the impression the BMW engenders. Yet the ride remains good even in sport+ mode – there’s discernible pitter-patter on broken roads, but the primary ride over crests and through dips is excellent.

Not quite as comfortable as the Audi, nor as obviously dynamic as the BMW, the Volvo manages to find a praiseworthy balance between ride refinement and body control. We’ve yet to try an XC90 locally on air springs – reports from European publications about this system are positive – but a passively sprung vehicle rides a touch too firmly at times. That said, it curbs body roll well and feels utterly predictable in the way it deals with varying road surfaces. Criticism should be levelled at the steering system, which has a tendency to lighten under cornering, but this is a characteristic that few owners will notice.

In terms of braking, the three competitors are very evenly matched. All three managed to record an average emergency-stopping time of less than three seconds, which is admirable for vehicles of this weight.

AT THE PUMPS
We expected the Volvo to have the advantage in terms of fuel consumption, but that assumption was shattered on our fuel route, where the vehicle used diesel at an average rate of 8,7 L/100 km. The Audi consumed 8,0 and the BMW 8,1.
STELLENBOSCH, Western Cape – Considering it’s 2019 and alternative propulsion tech is all the rage, it’s surprising how few rivals the Volvo XC90 T8 has at its price point. In fact, there’s only one: Lexus’ RX450h. Range Rover’s Sport P400e is nearly R400 000 more expensive and the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid another couple of grand on top. BMW and Mercedes-Benz will add their X5 and GLE equivalents in the coming months but, judging by pricing for their conventionally driven models, they’ll struggle to match the Swede’s competitiveness.

But what of the conventional diesels and petrols, you may ask. Certainly, scratch a supplementary electric motor from your list of requirements and the field of contenders widens significantly, with Volvo itself offering a D5, T5 and T6 at quite a bit less than it charges (hey!) for the T8 plug-in hybrid.

I had a chance to drive three derivatives on the local launch of the facelifted range (missing was the T5) and, as always, consider the D5 Inscription the XC90 of choice (there’s a cheaper Momentum option, too, but it’s stripped of some desirable spec items). At R1 122 669, it undercuts the T8 by a substantial R150k-plus and will barely use more fuel in day-to-day running should your commute include highway driving.

The T8 in its element

Of course, it’s in urban environments where the T8 makes most sense and, leaving the launch venue of Hazendal Wine Estate heading in the direction of Stellenbosch, my co-driver and I marvelled at the drivetrain’s ability to continue in electric mode for a range of up to 43 km, the silence adding to the XC90’s stellar overall refinement.

Overtaking punch is considerable, too (we tested a T8 in 2016 and recorded a 80-120 km/h sprint time of just 3,83 seconds, plus a 0-100 km/h figure of 5,66 seconds), but accompanied by a subdued yet notable racket from the turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine under the bonnet. If, ironically, you want the punchiest XC90 there is, the eco-conscious T8 is the one to go for, but don’t be surprised if your fuel consumption rockets to above 10,0 L/100 km when the 9,2 kWh battery is depleted (it takes about three hours to recharge via a conventional domestic wall socket).

So, what’s new on the XC90? Not much, really. There’s a new grille design; a range of fresh alloy wheels up to 22 inches in size; the option of six seats instead of seven; and additional paint colours. Arguably, Volvo hasn’t needed to update the exterior design – the XC90 remains one of the market’s most stylish large SUVs – but a new R-Design package does augment those understated lines, adding 20-inch diamond-cut alloys, black mirror housings to complement the darkened grille, sports seats and a perforated-leather steering wheel with gearshift paddles.

Seven into six

The cockpit is as exquisitely trimmed as always, and as spacious, which is why I’m not convinced the six-seater option is worthwhile. By keeping the outer two second-row seats in their original place, access through the central tunnel to the third row is easy, certainly, but why take a large, family SUV and make it less practical? Then again, why do people buy BMW X4s over X3s?

The T8 variant we drove featured Bowers & Wilkins’ 1 476 W, 19-speaker audio system and it’s an option box I’d tick without hesitation. Considering the incredible clarity and punch it offers, at R42 750 it’s great value against rival brands’ top-end systems. 

Volvo says it hasn’t fiddled with the suspension tuning but I suspect that, through continued development since the XC90’s launch in 2015, the ride has improved. Slightly fidgety before, the facelifted XC90 now handles broken surfaces with impressive composure. Coupled with a consistency in response from the steering system and pedals, the large SUV is surprisingly easy to thread through traffic.

While I’d pick the D5 over the T8, as supplemented drivetrains go, the latter’s petrol engine/electric motor pairing is one of the market’s best. Offering a compelling combination of hot-hatch performance and frugal running in ideal conditions, the T8 complements the revised XC90’s myriad fine attributes.
STELLENBOSCH, Western Cape – Considering it’s 2019 and alternative propulsion tech is all the rage, it’s surprising how few rivals the Volvo XC90 T8 has at its price point. In fact, there’s only one: Lexus’ RX450h. Range Rover’s Sport P400e is nearly R400 000 more expensive and the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid another couple of grand on top. BMW and Mercedes-Benz will add their X5 and GLE equivalents in the coming months but, judging by pricing for their conventionally driven models, they’ll struggle to match the Swede’s competitiveness.

But what of the conventional diesels and petrols, you may ask. Certainly, scratch a supplementary electric motor from your list of requirements and the field of contenders widens significantly, with Volvo itself offering a D5, T5 and T6 at quite a bit less than it charges (hey!) for the T8 plug-in hybrid.

I had a chance to drive three derivatives on the local launch of the facelifted range (missing was the T5) and, as always, consider the D5 Inscription the XC90 of choice (there’s a cheaper Momentum option, too, but it’s stripped of some desirable spec items). At R1 122 669, it undercuts the T8 by a substantial R150k-plus and will barely use more fuel in day-to-day running should your commute include highway driving.

The T8 in its element

Of course, it’s in urban environments where the T8 makes most sense and, leaving the launch venue of Hazendal Wine Estate heading in the direction of Stellenbosch, my co-driver and I sat in marvelled at the drivetrain’s ability to continue in electric mode for a range of up to 43 km, the silence adding to the XC90’s stellar overall refinement.

Overtaking punch is considerable, too (we tested a T8 in 2016 and recorded a 80-120 km/h sprint time of just 3,83 seconds, plus a 0-100 km/h figure of 5,66 seconds), but accompanied by a subdued yet notable racket from the turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine under the bonnet. If, ironically, you want the punchiest XC90 there is, the eco-conscious T8 is the one to go for, but don’t be surprised if your fuel consumption rockets to above 10,0 L/100 km when the 9,2 kWh battery is depleted (it takes about three hours to recharge via a conventional domestic wall socket).

So, what’s new on the XC90? Not much, really. There’s a new grille design; a range of fresh alloy wheels up to 22 inches in size; the option of six seats instead of seven; and additional paint colours. Arguably, Volvo hasn’t needed to update the exterior design – the XC90 remains one of the market’s most stylish large SUVs – but a new R-Design package does augment those understated lines, adding 20-inch diamond-cut alloys, black mirror housings to complement the darkened grille, sports seats and a perforated-leather steering wheel with gearshift paddles.

Seven into six

The cockpit is as exquisitely trimmed as always, and as spacious, which is why I’m not convinced the six-seater option is worthwhile. By keeping the outer two second-row seats in their original place, access through the central tunnel to the third row is easy, certainly, but why take a large, family SUV and make it less practical? Then again, why do people buy BMW X4s over X3s?

The T8 variant we drove featured Bowers & Wilkins’ 1 476 W, 19-speaker audio system and it’s an option box I’d tick without hesitation. Considering the incredible clarity and punch it offers, at R42 750 it’s great value against rival brands’ top-end systems. 

Volvo says it hasn’t fiddled with the suspension tuning but I suspect that, through continued development since the XC90’s launch in 2015, the ride has improved. Slightly fidgety before, the facelifted XC90 now handles broken surfaces with impressive composure. Coupled with a consistency in response from the steering system and pedals, the large SUV is surprisingly easy to thread through traffic.

While I’d pick the D5 over the T8, as supplemented drivetrains go, the latter’s petrol engine/electric motor pairing is one of the market’s best. Offering a compelling combination of hot-hatch performance and frugal running in ideal conditions, the T8 complements the revised XC90’s myriad fine attributes.

2019 Volvo XC90 D5 INSCRIPTION AWD

R935,600
Ref No: 1702544

Manufacturer Specifications

Standard - standard Optional - optional
  • Leather upholstery: Standard
  • Seats quantity: 7
  • Split rear seat: Standard
  • Folding rear seat: std (opt electric 3rd row)
  • Air conditioning: Standard
  • Climate control automatic air conditioning: Standard
  • Cup bottle holders: front + rear
  • Lumbar support adjustment: front electric
  • Front armrests: Standard
  • Heated ventilated seats: opt front heated / opt rear heated (opt front ventilated)
  • Antilock braking system (ABS): Standard
  • Electronic brake distribution (EBD): Standard
  • Brake assist (BAS/EBA): Standard
  • Traction control: Standard
  • Stability control: Standard
  • Hill descent control downhill brake control: Standard
  • Tyre pressure sensor monitor deflation detection system: Standard
  • Driver airbag: Standard
  • Front passenger airbag: Standard
  • Front side airbags: Standard
  • Curtain airbags: Standard
  • Airbag quantity: 6
  • Lane departure warning: lane keeping aid
  • Lane change blindspot warning assist monitor: Optional
  • Attention assist rest assist break alert: Standard
  • Automatic drive away locking: Standard
  • Electric child proof safety lock switch: Standard
  • ISOFIX child seat mountings: outer rear
  • Approach home safe lighting time delay park headlights: Standard
  • Directional turning headlights: Standard
  • Emergency brake hazardlights: emergency flashing brake lights + hazard lights
  • Start stop button: Standard
  • Engine auto Stop Start idle stop ecostop: Standard
  • Hillstart assist hillholder: Standard
  • Alloy wheelsrims: Standard
  • Electronically adjustable suspension: opt adaptive
  • Driving mode switch eg sport comfort: Standard
  • Power steering: Standard
  • Multifunction steering wheel controls: Standard
  • Head up display: Optional
  • On board computer multi information display: Standard
  • Navigation: Standard
  • Cruise control: adaptive
  • Active adaptive cruise control: Standard
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Standard
  • Voice control: Standard
  • CD player: Optional
  • Aux in auxiliary input: Standard
  • USB port: Standard
  • Powersocket 12V: front + rear + boot
  • Central locking: remote (opt keyless)
  • Remote central locking: Standard
  • Key less access start hands free key: Optional
  • Electric windows: front + rear
  • Rain sensor auto wipers: Standard
  • Auto dim interior mirror: Standard
  • Electric adjust mirrors: Standard
  • Auto dimexterior mirrors: Standard
  • Sun roof: opt panoramic
  • Panoramic roof: Optional
  • Electric seat adjustment: front
  • Memory for electric seat adjustment: front
  • Daytime driving running lights: LED
  • Light sensor auto on off lights: Standard
  • Xenon headlights: LED
  • Highbeam assist: Standard
  • Frontfog lamps lights: LED
  • Highlevel 3rd brakelight: Standard
  • Rear fog lamps lights: Standard
  • Park distance control PDC: front + rear + park assist (opt rear camera / opt surround view)
  • Camera for park distance control: opt rear
  • Metallic pearl escent paint: Optional
  • Fuel Type: diesel
  • Fuel range average: 1246 km
  • Driven wheels: all
  • Driven wheels quantity: 4
  • Gearratios quantity: 8
  • Gearshift: automatic
  • Transmission type: automatic
  • Transmission name: Geartronic
  • Electromechanical parking brake: Standard
  • Front tyres: 275/45 R20 (opt 235/55 R19 / opt 275/40 R21)
  • Reartyres: 275/45 R20 (opt 235/55 R19 / opt 275/40 R21)
  • Air suspension: Optional
  • Length: 4950 mm
  • Width excl mirrors incl mirrors: 1931-2140 mm
  • Height: 1775 mm
  • Wheel base: 2984 mm
  • Ground clearance minimum maximum: 238 mm
  • Turning circle wheels body: 12.2 m
  • Approach angle: 23.8
  • Break over ramp angle: 21.3
  • Departure angle: 23.3
  • Wading/fording (water crossing) depth: 450
  • Load volume / capacity: 314-692-1947 L
  • Load volume / capacity: 1947 L
  • Unladen/tare/kerb weight: 1999 kg
  • Load carrying capacity / payload: 712
  • Gross weight (GVM): 2750 kg
  • Towing capacity - unbraked: 750
  • Towing capacity - braked: 2700
  • Fuel tank capacity (incl reserve): 71l
  • Fuel consumption average: 5.7 l/100km
  • CO2 emissions average: 149g/km
  • Power maximum: 173 kW
  • Power maximum total: 173 kW
  • Power peak revs: 4000 r/min
  • Power to weight ratio: 86.5 kW/ton
  • Torque maximum: 480 Nm
  • Torque peak revs: 1750-2250 r/min
  • Torque maximum total: 480 Nm
  • Acceleration 0-100 kmh: 7.8s
  • Maximum top speed: 220 km/h
  • Engine position/ location: front
  • Engine capacity: 1969 cc
  • Engine size: 2.0l
  • enginedetailshort: 2.0TD
  • Engine + detail: 2.0 turbo diesel
  • Cylinder layout: inline
  • Cylinders: 4
  • Cylinder layout + quantity: i4
  • Cam: dohc
  • Valves per cylinder: 4
  • Valves quantity: 16
  • Turbocharger: Standard
  • Warranty time (years): 5
  • Warranty distance (km): 100000 km
  • Maintenance plan: Standard
  • Maintenance plan time (years): 5
  • Maintenance plan distance (km): 100000 km
  • Service interval indicator: Standard
  • Service interval (distance): 20000 km
  • Service interval (time): 1
  • Brand: Volvo
  • Status: c
  • Segment: passenger car
  • MMcode: 65072611
  • MMVariant: XC90 D5 INSCRIPTION AWD
  • Introdate: 2019-07-01
  • DuoportarecordID: VolvXC90_2Fe35

Enquire on this Car

We'll let the dealer know when is the best time to call you back


R
R
R
%
R 0
Estimated monthly payments


All information, pictures, colours, specifications or any other data contained within the www.carmag.co.za website are presented only as a general guide to products and accessories offered by motor manufactures. Although every effort has been made to ensure that all such information is correct and up to date, no guarantee is provided that all such information is reliable, complete, accurate or without error. In some cases pictures of various foreign models may be shown as a guide. All information should be verified by an official dealership.

www.carmag.co.za does not accept any liability for damages of any kind resulting from the access or use of this site and its contents.

If you do not wish to be bound by these Terms you may not access, copy or download any content on this Website as per the CARmag Terms of Use available at carmag.co.za/terms_of_use.html

Volvo XC90 D5 INSCRIPTION AWD D5 AWD Inscription for sale in from one of Carmag.co.za's apporoved car dealerships
Used XC90 D5 INSCRIPTION AWD D5 AWD Inscription availbale from the following auto dealer:
Volvo Bloemfontein used car dealership located in: , , South Africa
0 vehicles to be emailed:
To !
From !
To !