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Volvo adds champagne touch to XC90

POSTED BY Nigel Andretti ON 16 April 2015

VOLVO’S second generation XC90 SUV is taking the safety-centric brand into some unfamiliar territory — ultra luxury.

For the upcoming 2015 Shanghai Auto Show which starts next week, the Swedish automaker rolled out a Range Rover-esque version of its new SUV, called the “XC90 Excellence.”

Champagne anyone?

Champagne anyone?

“This is our new flagship car,” Volvo senior vice president of design Thomas Ingenlath said. “We have created the ultimate experience of Scandinavian luxury.”

Although there’s little difference between the Excellence and its less excellent siblings from the outside, the interior is where the upscale SUV aspirations become apparent.

At the heart of this newfound poshness is the XC90’s private jet-style rear cabin, which the automaker describes as a “Scandinavian sanctuary” — ambient lighting to set the mood, a retractable control touchscreen, folding tray tables, a refrigerator with bottle and glass holders, a heated and chilled cup holder and to top it all off, handmade crystal glasses by Orrefors.

That’s in addition to the ventilated and massaging captains chairs that have replaced the standard XC90’s more utilitarian bench-style seats.

volvoexcellence3

“What we have designed is amongst the best rear seat experience available in a luxury car,” Ingenlath said.

In fact, the whole car is designed to effortlessly glide down the road. Heck, the SUV even has Pirelli noise-cancelling tires.

So why is Chinese-owned Volvo going to such trouble to build a more aristocratic SUV when it’s supposed to be a company built on safety, technology, and utilitarianism?

According to Ingenlath, the luxurious flourishes create a “superlative environment for relaxed comfort or doing business.”

Since Volvo is the crown jewel of China’s Geely Automotive, the XC90 gives the company a massive opportunity to penetrate the the Chinese luxury SUV market that has thus far been dominated by German and Japanese rivals.

Chinese consumers don’t have the same memories that Western customers have of Volvo as a seller of boxy station wagons — an unpretentious, understated anti-luxury brand. As a result, an uber-luxury model, such as the Excellence, only reinforces Volvo’s stature in China as an upscale option.

Volvo hasn’t yet announced the engine choices for the Excellence, which is expected to hit the global market later this year.

But photos of the show car indicate that it’s a T8, which is powered by a 2.0-litre supercharged and turbocharged inline 4-cylinder engine that’s paired with an electric motor hybrid drive system to produce 400 horsepower. No word on pricing though.