2015 Volvo

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Think of Volvo and you tend to picture safe, classy, and comfortable family cars. They appeal direct to their target market and, while some will find the dull, are generally reliable and excellent vehicles. It’s always been a case of safety first with Volvo, and their XC90 family wagon is the perfect example. Many reviewers rate it as the perfect all-rounder, and it’s pitched perfectly for families.

But what about people who are looking for something a little more sporty – and spicy? Volvo decided to fill the void with the R-Design version of the successful 4×4. We’re going to take a closer look at the upgraded XC90 and see if it’s worth the extra money.

Looks

The standard XC90 was a fantastic looking car, instantly noticeable on the roads. But sports sells and anyone looking for something a little racier will be delighted with the R-Design version. The new trim gives it a few stylish touches like the matt-silver wing mirrors and an impressive looking grille. You also get a matt trim around the windows which really makes them pop. Of course, when you’re looking for a sporty look, alloy wheels are compulsory – and the R-Design doesn’t disappoint. The 20-inch alloys look superb surrounded by the low-profile tyres, and they are the icing on an already stunning cake.

Under the bonnet

The specs are attractive to anyone looking for a fast, powerful, but affordable family car. The least expensive model has a 2.0-litre four cylinder diesel engine, which might not sound much but does a great job. The engine really delivers with regards to performance and pulls off 0-60 mph in 7.8 seconds. There’s an 8-speed gearbox, too, which gives you automatic acceleration when needed. That said, despite its sporty looks, the R-Design doesn’t quite feel as muscular as some of its competitors. There are other versions of the R-Design available, however. They include the 306hp T6 petrol and the 400 hp T8 petrol plug-in hybrid. It’s also worth pointing out that all versions of the XC90 come equipped with a collapsible mechanism in the front seats. It’s an innovative little device that protects passengers from spinal injuries. As ever, Volvo does not shirk when it comes to putting safety first – even in their sportier models.

Volvo XC90

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Interior

The inside of the R-Design also enjoys a few excellent upgrades. You can sink in comfort into the branded leather seats, and grip onto a comfy leather steering wheel. You can expect climate controls on the front and back. Volvo’s smart touchscreen runs everything in the cabin – and the R-Design gets sat-nav bundled in. There are USB ports, cupholders and a great little B&W audio system. The good news for families is that the sporty interior doesn’t compromise on comfort or space. While it’s often an issue with upgraded cars, the Swedish manufacturer has done a great job in keeping things practical. Clearly, Volvo understands that sporty people and families are not mutually exclusive.

Driving

Now, as most people will already know, there tends to be a trade-off when you upgrade to sporty trim. Yes, it looks a lot better and far more stylish. But the trim makes the driving experience a little less comfortable than you might like in the vast majority of cars. It’s not the case in the XC90, though – it retains its comfort and drives superbly. Harratts state the XC90 has ‘a natural confidence’ and is easy and comfortable behind the wheel. If we’re picky, the steering is a little stiffer in the R-Design than the standard XC90 – but most won’t notice the difference. There is also a slight issue with the noise in the cab – which is expected from a sportier car.

Price and value

Given its looks, comfort and drivability, the XC90 R-Design has been earning rave reviews from the auto press. It’s a great SUV that stands out from the crowd, and there is a lot of value for families. It’s spacious, comfortable, yet doesn’t compromise on style. If you are looking for a seven-seater, there is plenty of choices out there right now. But with price points set to drop from its initial £49,500, it makes the R-Design even more compelling.

Conclusion

We love the Volvo XC90 R-Design – particularly in the exclusive Passion Red finish. A lot is going on – inside and out – and while it’s expensive, there is a lot of value there. If you are looking for a safe family car that doesn’t skimp on style, you might well find the R-Design to be a great choice.