It seems the only two nationalities, who have no penchant for station wagons are Russians – and South Africans. During a road trip into the Klein-Karoo I found out how Volvo is going to sell the gorgeous new V90 Cross Country to local wagon haters.
There are very few wagons in South Africa. You might see the odd Audi A6 Allroad, older Merc estate or one of the ballistic Audi RS6es, the only family car that can make a Ferrari driver sweat on a mountain pass. But when you happen to speak to the owner of one of those estates, you will most probably get a response coloured by a Middle or Northern European accent. German, Swiss, Austrian, Dutch and Scandinavian people adore estate cars.
And the undisputed king of wagon makers just introduced a new one: the V90 Cross Country. This variant did quite well in the past. Just make South Africans believe it’s a cross-over or SUV and they’ll buy it. Merc and Audi offer their big wagons in heels, like the E-Class Terrain or the Audi A6 Allroad, but the E-Class stays in the old country and the Allroad is no longer available locally.
So what we have here with the V90 Cross Country is basically a car without competition. To make things even better, this third new Volvo, after XC90 and S90, is another Nordic design master piece. Yes, Thomas Ingenlath, responsible for the recent hype in Swedish car porn hitting our shores, did it again. The car is simply irresistible. I liked the new Volvo SC90, loved the S90 and now I want to immigrate to Sweden.
And on top of it all Volvo came up with this great idea of not just launching it to a bunch of journalists, but delivering one to my doorstep for the weekend, with a road trip to a secret location punched into the navigation system. All I know is, that the destination is about 270 kilometres from Cape Town, somewhere in the bush and I can have a relaxing aromatherapy massage, as soon as I arrive there.
I love road trips, so I pack my overnight bag and throw it into the mighty boot space. Take the first one left, says the (Swedish?) navigation girl. And then I see it, destination: Sanbona Game Reserve, most probably the best wildlife stay in the Western Cape.
My car is equipped with R185 485 of optional extras. The most important one, the Adventure Pack (R75 000) was created especially for the South African market and offers plenty of lifestyle-oriented extras. Among others a panoramic roof, an integrated compass, a 230 Volt outlet and – probably the most important of all – air suspension.
On those beautiful country roads into the Klein-Karoo the V90 is a comfortable cruiser, very much like the S90. With the diesel I get the same kind of feeling as in the S90, including the sudden urge to maybe have a slightly more powerful unit beneath me. Off tarmac the V90 resembles the SC90. Even Rangerette Pascale is impressed by the station wagon’s dirt performance. In off-road mode with raised suspension it irons out even deeper ruts without touching the middelmannetjie.
So if you can’t make up your mind whether to buy the SUV SC90 or the limousine S90 get the V90 instead – and you have access to both worlds. Despite my Bavarian heritage, I am surprised how much this Swede has captivated me during the weekend. I think this is what they refer to as Stockholm syndrome.
Volvo V90 Cross Country D5 AWD Inscription Geartronic
Engine 2.0-l. 4cyl. turbo diesel
Power 143kW and 480Nm
Top Speed 230 km/h
0-100km/h 7.5 seconds
Price R869 900 (as tested R1 055 385)