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All-new Volvo XC90 and its scalable platform

Volvo has released details on its Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), the platform the all-new XC90 and other future Volvos will be built on. It’s also shown the face of the new SUV. A bit of it, anyway.

LAUNCHING IN TWO weeks time, the all-new Volvo XC90 will be the first Volvo to be built on its new Scalable Product Architecture. The XC90 will also be the first new Volvo to feature the brand’s Thor’s Hammer daytime running lights, but we’ll come back to that.

Like a lot of other car makers moving to modular platforms (think Volkswagen), Volvo says its SPA has been under in-house development for the last four years and will make its debut under the XC90 before being rolled out across the range, adapted for new V60, XC60, S60 and S80. In addition to being flexible enough to accommodate various Volvo model types, SPA is also flexible enough to allow for the full arsenal of Volvo engines to be fitted, including electrification of its vehicles without loss of interior space (be that passenger or load). Other carmakers have struggled to combine the bulk of a battery pack with a luxurious and spacious interior, something that Volvo has managed to overcome with SPA, Volvo says.

“SPA will change the way Volvo builds cars in the future by allowing a wide range of cars, powertrains, electrical systems and technologies – all of differing complexity – to be fitted on the same architecture, generating significant economies of scale,” says Dr Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President, Research and Development of Volvo Car Group.

All-new Volvo XC90 and its scalable platform

According to Volvo, with SPA (and being able to adjust the platform to suit the application), previous design limitations in areas such as wheelbase, overhang, vehicle height and the height of the front are removed.

“This has created greater freedom for us to design cars with a confident stance, dynamic proportions and a number of distinctive design signatures. Our three recent concept cars have demonstrated this capability. Even though the all-new XC90 is an entirely different type of car, you will recognise the connection instantly when it is revealed in two weeks,” says Thomas Ingenlath, Senior Vice President Design of Volvo Car Group.

The XC90, says Volvo, will offer more flexibility inside the car. Not only will the brand’s all-new SUV offer seven seats, the sliding function on all seats in the second-row can be used to create more legroom for passengers in the third-row – or to increase loading capacity. “The seats in the third row offer class-leading comfort for passengers up to 170 cm tall,” Volvo says.

All-new Volvo XC90 and its scalable platform

“SPA has enabled us to create the world’s first no-compromise SUV,” says Dr Mertens. “You get the agility of a much smaller and lower car, an in-command feel and generous interior space, plus an adrenaline rush delivered by powertrains that offer an unrivalled combination of power and low emissions. Of course, it carries the Volvo badge, meaning world-class safety is standard.”

SPA, Volvo says, thanks to the extensive use of high-strength boron steel, means future Volvos can be made both more compact and safer at the same time.

And what about the daytime running lights? Wow. Called Thor’s Hammer (after the Norse God of Thunder and the hammer he used), the T-shaped running lights will leave no-one mistaking the new Volvo SUV for something else. “Anyone who looks in their rear-view mirror is going to know immediately that there is a new XC90 behind them,” says Mr Ingenlath. “The XC90 is a car that has presence on the road.”


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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober