The Volvo XC90 D5 Momentum is big, it’s laden with technological goodies and it’s majestic on road but Charlie Flindt longs for the unfussy design of the original – and so does Mrs Flindt


The Volvo XC90 D5 Momentum follows the much loved original XC90, which was in production for over a dozen years selling in the hundreds of thousands. A hard act to follow, Charlie Flindt finds himself longing for the unfussy original.

For more motoring, read Charlie Flindt’s reviews of the MG6 DTI-Tech and the Fiat 500 X Plus 4WD.


Here’s why we used to love the old Volvo XC90: it wasn’t huge, it wasn’t flashy and it wasn’t over-sophisticated. In production for over a dozen years, it sold in the hundreds of thousands. I can’t help thinking those two sentences are linked. The new Volvo XC90 D5 Momentum has arrived to almost universal acclaim but I found it somewhat underwhelming.

You know a car is big when the lovely Mrs Flindt, who can thread a 16-ton tractor/trailer combo through the awkwardest of farm gates with ease, comes back from a shopping trip fuming about how long it took to negotiate the Volvo XC90 D5 Momentum into a city-centre parking spot. The latest model is 6in longer and 2in wider than the first one.

With the Volvo XC90 D5 Momentum, the unfussy design of the original has gone. The old, practical front bumper (approach angle 28 degrees) is now a complicated mass of grilles and chrome (approach angle 23.8 degrees). And don’t start me on the daytime headlights, designed, according to Volvo, to look like Thor’s hammer. Really, Volvo? I mean, really?


Things were looking up when I read that Robin Page was in charge of the interior. If anyone could stand up to a pretentious wave of design-school drivel it would be Cambridgeshire’s most famous son of the soil. I looked forward to hay bales for seats, and plastic string and black tape holding ex-Fergie dials in place. Alas, it was a different Robin Page. The other one is a proper car interior designer, ex-Bentley, and it seems that keeping things minimalist was not on his design brief. The new interior is a feast of fine leather and quality plastic, which is all very nice, but laden with technological goodies. Almost every electrical function, and there seem to be thousands of them, is controlled by what young people call a “tablet”, high up in the middle of the facia.

Volvo XC90 D5 Momentum. Interior

Almost every electrical function in the car is controlled by a tablet.

For everyone under 30 this is heaven. For me, “swiping and tapping” through a fiendishly complicated menu to adjust the cabin temperature is the height of absurdity. I’m hopelessly right-handed and my passenger on the long test drive suffers from Parkinson’s. We ended up longing for a simple dial. And as for asking him to use the “handwriting recognition” mode to enter a postcode – we were lucky to stay this side of the Channel.

One thing we did learn from the long drive: the Volvo XC90 D5 Momentum is majestic on road. There was a bit too much noise through the panoramic sunroof but it is a fantastic and luxurious mileage eater. Off road? Well, I set off into the sodden woods, where it struggled a bit on its road-biased tyres. You could hear and feel the computers working once I’d stopped and worked my way through the tablet thingy to turn off all the proximity warnings. And I did worry about that front bumper.

The last word should come from my teenage son. “Did you know, Dad, that the XC90 won car of the year from Fancy Electrical Gadget Monthly?” I rest my case.


Engine: 1,969cc diesel
Power: 225hp
Max speed: 137mph
Performance: 0 to 60: 7.4 seconds
Combined fuel economy: 49.6mpg
Insurance group: 33
Price: £45,750
Would suit: underthirtysomething gismofreak