By: Jason Woosey
Volvo's XC90 SUV is now a step closer to being able to drive itself with the local introduction of the latest version of Pilot Assist, while the D5 diesel model also gets a performance boost courtesy of Volvo's innovative PowerPulse technology.
Pilot assist for freeway speeds
The latest version of Volvo's Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving system made its debut on the Volvo S90 (available in SA soon) and is now fitted to the XC90 SUV as standard.
Whereas the previous version of Pilot Assist was aimed more at making traffic jams a cinch and only worked up to 50km/h, the new version can accelerate, brake and steer autonomously at speeds of up to 130km/h and no longer needs a lead vehicle.
Now for the disclaimer. While this gizmo is intended to make those long-distance trips more relaxing, it is in no way intended to replace the driver, so you'll still need to remain fully alert and keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times as the cameras will not recognise all lane markings and the steering assistance can deactivate at any time. In fact the car will sound a warning and stop Pilot Assist if it detects your hands have been off the wheel for too long.
Lag-free diesel technology
The other big change for the 2017 model year fitting the PowerPulse system to D5 turbodiesel models. The technology ensures lag-free pull-offs by pumping compressed air into the exhaust manifold to spool up the turbo at low rpm, when exhaust pressure is insufficient. The system uses a compressor to squeeze air into a pressurised two-litre tank, which refills automatically after each 'burst'.
The D5's maximum outputs have increased to 173kW and 480Nm, from 165kW and 470Nm, while fuel efficiency also improves marginally according to Volvo.
The other engines in the line-up continue as before. All of them are 2-litre turbo-charged four-cylinder units, and include the 140kW/400Nm D4 diesel and two petrols in the form of a 187kW/350Nm T5 and 235kW/400Nm T6. Topping the range is the T8 petrol-electric plug-in hybrid with system outputs of 300kW and 640Nm.
VOLVO XC90 PRICES
D4 FWD Momentum - R864 726
D4 FWD Inscription - R910 626
D5 AWD Momentum - R926 106
D5 AWD Inscription - R972 006
D5 AWD R-Design - R988 506
T5 AWD Momentum - R887 716
T5 AWD Inscription - R933 616
T5 AWD R-Design - R950 116
T6 AWD Momentum - R929 224
T6 AWD Inscription - R975 124
T6 AWD R-Design - R991 624
T8 Twin Engine AWD Momentum - R1 074 100
T8 Twin Engine AWD Inscription - R1 116 100
T8 Twin Engine AWD R-Design - R1 136 500