While visits to the furniture store are a dreaded chore, travelling in luxury and style is a joy in the Swedes’ 4×4.
“DARLING, we need to go to IKEA”. The most dreaded words any bloke can hear on a Saturday morning.
Then it’s find bit of furniture, write down the aisle and location number, get lost in the maze of a warehouse, then pick up all the various items flat-packed – and break your back putting it into the back of the car.
That’s before you even get home and try and build the thing.
Thankfully the Swedes’ idea of complicated is confined only to furniture.
When it comes to four-wheels, they are utterly serene.
They unveiled their long-awaited second-generation big SUV XC90 in 2014 after 636,143 sales for the first model from 2002.
But while it gets a much curvier look compared with the old model, Volvo are particularly proud of the interior.
Brit Robin Paige is the interior design director for the Swedes and admits that the new XC90 typifies Scandinavian tastes and technology.
He exclusively told me: “Sweden is known for its furniture design and architecture and we’ve integrated that as much as possible. We’ve concentrated on making the XC90 perfect for our customers’ lifestyles.
“On the inside that means a touchscreen which has the same iPad pinch usage and connectivity.
“The surfaces and materials are premium and luxurious while we’ve added several items of what we call jewellery like the crystal gear lever and diamond cut rotary dial and controls.”
With longer, taller and lower dimensions than before, the Volvo XC90 is the first all-new car to emerge under the brand’s Chinese ownership.
It goes head-to-head against rival premium SUVs like the BMW X5, Porsche Cayenne, Volkswagen Touareg and Mercedes M-Class.
But Paige believes the XC90 stands alone in this ultra-tough sector dominated by the Germans.
He added: “Volvo has its own identity in his market. Our customers are loyal and people who don’t want to drive German models, they want to be in a Volvo.
“We are pushing the design envelope with cutting edge safety and technology and it’s an exciting time for the brand as we add new models.”
There are nine new Volvos on the way and all will carry the sleek but macho design language of this new XC90.
George Foreman would be proud of the new huge chrome grille which will become a trademark feature on future models, as will the T-shaped LED daytime running lights.
On the road, it’s a 4×4 that’s more regal than rugged. But overall it delivers a fine balance between comfort and agility.
A range of 2.0-litre 4-cylinder Drive-E engines power the XC90. The 222bhp D5 diesel unit props up the range and above that sits the 316bhp T6 petrol model. The flagship XC90 is the T8, a petrol plug-in hybrid with 395bhp to call on. All models get an 8-speed automatic gearbox.
The XC90’s most popular engine will be the D5, which still offers a reasonable 49.6mpg and 149g/km of CO2
Inside, there’s plenty of head and legroom. Naturally it gets a bit tighter in the third row, which is best suited on longer journeys just for children.
In seven-seat configuration, the Volvo XC90 offers a great mix of refinement and practicality, with 451 litres of boot space. Fold the third row down – an easier job than in the Land Rover Discovery thanks to the simpler mechanism – and this rises to 1,102 litres. Stow all the seats away and there’s 1,951 litres on offer. Plus, with a low loading lip and ‘hands-free’ powered tailgate as standard, it’ll be easy to pack away shopping.
As you come to expect from a Volvo, the XC90 features a comprehensive package of safety equipment.
It includes two new systems – run-off road protection, which holds passengers in place and absorbs energy if it detects that the car has left the road in a crash, plus an auto brake at intersection, which detects if the driver is turning across the path of an oncoming car and sharply applies the brakes to help prevent a collision.
Volvo says the new technologies will help it towards its goal that nobody will be killed or seriously injured in one of its new models by the year 2020.
Prices for the new XC90 start at £45,750. The good news is that it doesn’t come flat-packed – and it won’t break your back – or drive you insane building it.
Now that’s my idea of shopping for something Swedish.