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Shanghai show: Volvo to launch XC90 ‘limo’

Back beauty: Volvo’s new XC90 flagship, the Excellence, gets the full-on luxury treatment in the back seat.

With a fridge and crystal glasses included, the Volvo XC90 Excellence goes all bling

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Volvo logo15 Apr 2015

VOLVO will use next week’s Shanghai motor show to spring the most luxurious vehicle it has ever brought to production, the XC90 Excellence.

With four sumptuous seats, extra rear legroom, a refrigerator, folding tables and crystal glasses from Sweden’s Orrefors glass company, the flagship SUV has been designed to deliver “an exceptional customer experience”.

Primarily aimed at the Chinese market where such rear-seat opulence is a winner with chauffeur-driven corporate customers, the XC90 Excellence nevertheless will be released globally.

Potentially, that could include Australia where the all-new XC90 is slated for showroom roll-out from August this year.

It would usurp the $122,950 R-Design T8 plug-in hybrid as the flagship of the range, going up against luxury SUV entries from Range Rover, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.

Volvo’s senior vice-president of design Thomas Ingenlath said the XC90 Excellence was the ultimate luxury experience of Scandinavian design.

“Volvo has never launched a car like this before,” he said “This is the car that demonstrates what the name Volvo now means.

“What we have designed is amongst the best rear-seat experiences available in a luxury car. The result is a superlative environment for relaxed comfort or doing business.” Dispensing with the seven-seat layout of the standard XC90, the Volvo designers have moved the second-row seats back to create more room.

And instead of a conventional bench seat, they have fitted a pair of reclining and heated rear bucket seats that look near identical to those in the front.

Split by a permanent centre armrest that lifts up to reveal a refrigerator with bottle- and cup-holders that can cool or warm beverages, the rear seats include massage and ventilation systems, as well as footrests and front-seat-type electric adjustment.

Aircraft-style tables – each with a cupholder – fold up from the side of the seat, while each rear seat position gets a retractable touchscreen that, apart from supplying video and TV images, presumably can control the 19-speaker Bowers & and Wilkins sound system and the climate control system that comes standard with an ionic air cleaner – a winner in smog-filled Chinese cities.

The luxury fittings include ambient lighting, illuminated storage, a luggage compartment dividing screen, additional sound insulation in the cabin and noise-cancelling tyres.

Leather upholstery comes in a choice of blond or charcoal, with the dash cloaked in matching leather.

Outside, the Excellence gets chrome B- and C-pillar cappings and lower door mouldings.

No luggage space figures have been released ahead of the show. The rearward movement of the back seats might impinge on the length of the luggage compartment, but the removal of the third row seats will likely free up some depth.

While many vehicles aimed at the Chinese luxury market have an extended wheelbase to free up rear knee-room, the wheelbase of the Excellence remains the same as the standard model.

No powertrains details were given, but we assume Excellence will at least be available with the plug-in hybrid that combines the 235kW T6 petrol engine with a 60kW/240Nm electric motor and a 9.2kWh lithium-ion battery for a combined output of 294kW and 640Nm.

It is also likely to get the active air suspension system that drops the ride height by 10mm at highway speeds and by 40mm to allow easy entry and egress when the ignition is turned off.

The XC90 petrol and diesel models that start with the Momentum D5 at $89,950 are expected in showrooms in August, with the plug-in hybrid T8 due later in the year.

The Excellence is said to be released globally in late 2015, but assuming Volvo Car Australia takes it, a 2016 arrival date is likely Down Under.

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