UK cars will all have distinctive LED headlamps with Thors hammer DRLs

UK cars will all have distinctive LED headlamps with 'Thor's hammer' DRLs

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Volvo's UK unit is keeping one card up its sleeve when it launches the redesigned XC90 SUV starting in June.

That's a two wheel drive D4 version with Kinetic entry level trim to take the model line into slightly different territory after the initial hiss and roar.

But, for starters, potential buyers, from June, are looking down the barrel of a GBP45,000 to GBP63,000 range of all wheel drive, eight speed automatic models comprising a 166kw D5 diesel, expected to take 75% of UK sales, not least because of its 149g CO2 emissions, a 235kW T6 petrol (15%) and, arriving in October, the 234kW, plug-in hybrid T8 petrol twin engine (10%). Momentum trim (replacing the old UK SE designation) should account for half of sales, Inscription (SE Lux) 20% and sporty R Design 30%.

As usual with European models, the line has been poshed up a bit more as standard for the UK compared with what is offered elsewhere.

All UK XC90s have the 'Thor's hammer' full LED headlamps because they are so distinctive and all of ours will have seven seats - a five chair layout will be offered internationally.

Other UK market inclusions are Sensus navigation with internet access, traffic information and free lifetime updates, those aforementioned LED active bending headlights with active high beam, Volvo On Call emergency service, CleanZone air quality system, hands free (you wave your foot under the bumper) tailgate opening, keyless entry and drive, power driver's seat, auto dimming interior and exterior mirrors and DAB (digital) radio.

Can't argue with that. Going through the price list, even the 'standard' Momentum on 19 inch wheels is dripping with standard kit I suspect would be optional on some German and UK rivals (Volvo is hoping to poach some Range Rover customers). You can be in there for hours but Inscription adds 20 inch wheels, Nappa leather, more leather trimmed items and additional goodies such as side window blinds, theatre lighting, power passenger seat with memory plus illuminated sill plates. R Design gets a sportier look and items while the T8 has a panoramic sunroof, four zone climate control and an auxiliary heater.

Option packs also group some items together for better value than buying individually.

The previous XC90 was launched in 2002 and sold 636,000 globally. Volvo has taken 16,000 orders so far for the new one. UK sales starting in June, will include 53 first editions and the target for this market is 4,500 in 2015, 5,000 a year after that.

Thanks to an invitation to the global reveal near Stockholm last August, just-auto was already familiar with the redesign and its many new features, as well as the intent to move the model line upmarket.

What we did not expect in final production cars (though the preview cars hinted at it) was the sheer quality of workmanship and materials in the cabin which a number of journalists on the launch this week agreed was just one notch down from that of Rolls-Royce and Bentley. High praise indeed. Fit and finish are superb and everything operates smoothly and intuitively, especially the new, iPad-like centre screen which can handle four main functions like audio, phone and navigation and be customised.

We sampled D5, T6 and T8 powertrains and found plenty of power on tap with impressive refinement (you need to listen hard to tell D5 is only a four pot diesel) and loved the T8 with its sneaky electric only creep-about ability and massive acceleration when petrol and electric motor combine to give a sparkling 0-100km/h time of 6.4 seconds. For a big car, the XC90 handles very well and ride quality is also very good. On billiard table smooth Spanish roads. We'll see eventually what it's like on the river beds we call roads in the UK.

Of course, some of the equipment on preview cars will be optional in the UK such as the various drive modes (the T8 lets you charge up the battery as you drive so you can run all electric when you get to the city) and some of the fancy safety gear such as the radar cruise control and blind spot alert but key crash avoidance kit is standard and works well as we discovered when a colleague came up on a stationary vehicle a little bit sharply at a roundabout and the XC90 applied the brakes for him.

There are also some clever detailing touches. Each seat belt tongue has 'since 1959' stamped in as a reminder of Who Was First to fit such devices as standard. There's a Swedish flag sewn in to the front passenger seat to remind you, Volvo insiders giggle, you're not in a German car.

And there's a great one for kids. The rear row has a small stowage compartment each side and the supplier determined the lid needed ridges moulded in for adequate rigidity. Someone commented the resulting pattern looked like a spider's web so back the mould went to the toolmaker to have a spider etched in.

It's a nice touch in a superb car. Given how popular the old one is here in the UK, I reckon 5,000 a year might be conservative - and there's that 2WD D4 option and a lower trim level to add new interest a year or two after launch, if needed.