By Hedy Khoo
Volvo XC90 T5 Refresh
$256,999 with COE (GST included)
This seven-seater offers a luxury family ride. But take it off-road and you will quickly discover its sporty side.
I had a go at the Volvo XC90 T5 Refresh on rugged terrain during The New Paper SUVival Challenge 2012 held in Malaysia last weekend, both as a front passenger and in the driver's seat.
The Volvo XC90 is a decade old and this latest version - the Volvo XC90 T5 Refresh was launched on April 14, with a number of enhancements, both in aesthetics and performance.
A sturdy ride, this SUV mounts steep slopes and cruises its way through muddy trenches like a dream.
Don't get me wrong, the terrain used in the SUVival Challenge is no piece of cake to navigate.
Quite a number of the other SUVs which took part were souped up to conquer rough terrain.
The ground was rough and the ferocity of the early morning downpour churned up even muddier conditions last Saturday.
But the Volvo XC90 T5 Refresh, in its unmodified original glory, glided through the mud and scaled the steep slope with power and elegance, while a few other SUVs got stuck and required help from the recovery vehicle to tow them out of the mud, and some, up the steep slope.
My co-driver likens it to driving a baby tank. He is right. Once seated inside, you feel secure in your seat and well-insulated from the traffic noise outside.
Bent on setting a time-trial record, Robin drove like a maniac through an off-road obstacle maze put up by Suvec, but never once did the car feel like it was going to tip over, not even when he hurtled around sharp bends.
Apart from being a family car, it can also be a luxurious ride for the couple with a penchant for ferrying their mountain bikes out for weekends trips to Malaysia. Collapse the third row of seats and you get more than ample space to load as much gear and luggage as you want.
Among the new aesthetic features of the Volvo XC90 T5 Refresh are the redesigned front bumper bar, silver roof rails, LED daytime running lights and tail lights.
For the interior, the Volvo XC90 T5 Refresh comes with a three-spoke steering wheel with silk metal inlays.
The Volvo XC90 T5 Refresh has an engine capacity of 2,521cc. In terms of performance, the engine on the XC 90 T5 Refresh enjoys a boost in power - with 240bhp and 370Nm of torque. (The previous XC90 model has 210 bhp and 320Nm of torque.)
This article was first published in The New Paper.