Johannesburg - Traditional station wagons have become so unloved in this SUV-crazed market that they’re now virtually extinct in South Africa. Yet Volvo still sees some prospect in the butched-up wagon game, which it now has all to itself following the introduction of the V90 Cross Country.

Created as a spiritual successor to the XC70, the V90 Cross Country is based on the V90 wagon that won’t be sold in South Africa, thereby also sharing its SCA platform with the S90 and XC90. But it is a bit more than a dressed up V90 wagon, the Cross Country’s rough-road-adapted suspension raised by 60mm to 210mm and it’s also fitted with all-wheel drive as standard.

It still, of course, does the dress up thing, gaining wheel-arch extensions, a unique grille and redesigned bumpers. Buyers who don’t fancy the hiking boot look can opt for full colour coding for the wheel arches, side sills and bumpers.

Four familiar force-fed 2-litre engine options are available – two petrols and two diesels. Your petrol choice is between a 187kW/350Nm T5 turbo model and 235kW/400Nm T6 ‘twin-charged’ derivative that employs both supercharging and turbocharging. The turbodiesel range comprises a 140kW/400Nm D4 and 173kW/480Nm D5, the latter using Volvo’s ‘PowerPulse’ technology (essentially a 2-litre compressed air tank) to combat lag at low revs.

All engines are mated to eight-speed automatic transmissions and BorgWarner all-wheel drive systems, which drive the front wheels under normal circumstances but can send up to 50 percent of the twisting force to the back wheels when deemed necessary. The AWD system and stability control have been adapted for rough-road driving, while hill descent control has been added and an ‘Off-Road’ driving mode joins the four regular ones.

As with its ‘90’ siblings, the Cross Country comes standard with Volvo’s transverse composite leaf spring rear suspension with hydraulic shocks, but for R17 500 buyers can get a rear air suspension set-up with Active Chassis adaptation.

The command centre is Volvo’s 22.8cm, portrait-orientated touch-screen Sensus Connect infotainment system, fitted as standard and incorporating a ten-speaker sound system, satnav with real-time traffic updates and internet connectivity with WiFi hotspot.

Also part of the deal are leather seats (electrically adjustable for the driver) as well as dual-zone climate control and multi-function steering wheel. Oh, and there’s a waterproof key that allows you to lock your Volvo and then go swimming.

Then there’s that long list of standard safety kit, much of it built into the City Safety auto-braking system, but including Pedestrian Detection, Cyclist Detection, Large Animal Detection as well as Rear Collision Warning, Driver Alert Control, Lane Keeping Aid and Lane Departure Warning. Also included in the price is full-LED automatic headlights with Active Bending and Active High Beam technology.

VOLVO V90 CROSS COUNTRY PRICES

Petrol

T5 Geartronic AWD Momentum – R770 900

T5 Geartronic AWD Inscription – R801 300

T6 Geartronic AWD Momentum – R890 900

T6 Geartronic AWD Inscription – R921 300

Diesel

D4 Geartronic AWD Momentum – R794 800

D4 Geartronic AWD Inscription – R825 200

D5 Geartronic AWD Momentum – R839 500

D5 Geartronic AWD Inscription – R869 900

Prices include a five-year/100 000km full maintenance plan and warranty.

IOL Motoring

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