By Jim Bray
Grunt without the guilt.
Thats how Volvo describes the new V8 option debuting soon in its XC90
Grunt, thanks to the V8s 315 horsepower and 325 ft. lb of torque, and
no guilt thanks to its efficiency and cleanliness, two factors Volvo says were
high on its list of priorities for its first eight cylinder power plant.
Its important that we can launch a V8 without compromising on
our core values, said Volvo Cars President and CEO Hans-Olov Olsson.
One way to do that was to ensure the engine was small enough physically to
fit into the existing XC90s bay, mounted transversely like the rest of
Volvos engines. Weve tailored this V8 specifically for the
XC90, says Hans Wikman, Volvo Cars Vice President, Vehicle Line Large
Cars. A transverse engine is helpful in maintaining the frontal crumple
zones in the XC90 and thus not compromise on protective safety.
Making the 4.4 liter V8 fit into the XC90s existing cavity required
angling the banks of cylinders at 60 degrees to each other, instead of the
more common 90 degrees. To prevent imbalance from the 60-degree V configuration,
Volvo installed a counter-rotating balance shaft.
Ancillary devices such as the alternator are mounted directly onto the engine
itself, without brackets, and the starter motor sits above the transmission.
Volvo says both moves are designed to save space. Not only that, but Volvo
has offset the left-hand cylinder bank by half a cylinder to help squeeze the
engine into the XC90s structural beam network to help ensure Volvos
famed collision safety.
Thanks to an aluminum block and cylinder heads, the V8 tips the scale at only
190 kilograms, which Volvo says is important when youre trying to maximize
Fuel consumption ratings are estimated at 16.4 liters per 100 km city and
10.7 highway, which isnt too far off the 15.6 /10.6 city/highway rating
of the current XC90s turbo six cylinder power plant. Mileage varies,
of course, and if you drive with a lead foot something a V8 makes even
more interesting you undoubtedly wont achieve the posted figures.
Volvo also claims the new engine is the cleanest gas powered V8 available,
meeting the U.S. ULEV II (Ultra Low Emission Vehicle, stage II) standard. This
is an achievement were really proud of,
according to Jörgen Svensson, Chief Program Engineer.
The 4 valve per cylinder engine also features continuously variable valve
timing (CVVT) and is matched to a six speed automatic
geartronic transmission with a good manual mode. Sixth gear is
considered to be an overdrive gear, for fuel economy and quiet cruising.
During a test drive of the V8 XC90 I took through the foothills of the Rocky
Mountains, the combination proved highly competent, offering plenty of get
up and go, and easy kickdowns to lower gears when it came time to pull out
It sounds neat, too, which was apparently a deliberate strategy on Volvos
part. Our new V8 has just the right sort of charismatic off-beat V8 burble, boasts
Svensson, but it is somewhat more muted in a European fashion rather
than producing the more traditional meaty American throb. Away from the
hype and out on the highway, the engine sounds throaty and muscular, like even
a metrosexual V8 should.
Volvo claims a zero to 100 km/h time of 7 seconds.
The third component in the V8s power train is its electronically controlled
all wheel drive system, which Volvo says now offers
instant traction. This supposedly ups the get going fast quotient
when you want to scream away from a stop light, while offering enhanced traction
when driving conditions are less than optimal. The system has been modified
to handle the V8s extra power and Volvo says maximum short-term torque
at the rear wheels has been increased by 50 percent compared to the garden
The luxury SUV also includes roll stability control and Volvos Roll
Over Protection System (ROPS), as well as curtain air bags for occupants of
all three rows of seats.
The vehicle also comes with an excellent Dolby Pro Logic II
surround sound audio system with very good ergonomics, though it
should also offer DVD Audio, dts and SACD playback.
Volvo is primarily targeting consumers who are male, 55 years of age and up,
with a household income of $160,000 or more. The company says reasons to buy
the V8 XC90 include its styling, fun to drive quotient and the performance
of the silky V8. Volvo is hoping the luxury SUV will steal sales from such
four door sedans as the BMW 5 series, Mercedes E class, and Audi A6.
The XC90 V8 went on sale in the U.S. in early 2005 and is scheduled to debut
in Canadian showrooms in July. The base, five seat V8 will sell for $64,995,
with options such as the third row of seats ($2,300), a luxury option package
($2,000 for the five seat and $1,800 for the seven seat version), DVD navigation
($2,500) and dual screen DVD rear seat entertainment package ($2,500) also
With this pricing strategy, we feel the 2006 XC90 V8 is ideally positioned
to be a strong competitor in the high-end of the luxury SUV market, says
Larry Futers, Vice-President of Sales for Volvo Cars of Canada Ltd.
Volvo Canada is forecasting sales of 2500 units per year for the XC90, 20
per cent of which they think will feature the V8 option.
Our V8 package feels immensely solid, claims President and CEO
Hans-Olov Olsson. When it comes to power and performance, were
in the same class as the very best in the segment. Whats more, were
sure that a large proportion of these customers will appreciate the fact that
the power and drivability can be combined with high safety and good environmental
Or, as they proclaimed during their media event, Absolute power doesnt
have to corrupt absolutely.