First drive: Volvo XC90 D5 SE AWD
The Volvo XC90 was one of the first of a new breed of mid-size luxury crossover SUV when it was launched back in 2003. Eight years on and the design might not look as fresh as it once did, but demand is still strong, as the Volvo is a top-selling large SUV in the market.
For 2011, the XC90 gains a new Euro V compliant five-cylinder diesel engine and key features include improved performance and fuel consumption. Power is up from 185 to 200bhp, with torque up from 400 to 420Nm and yet the combined consumption figure is improved from 32.2 to 34mpg.
The first thing that hits you when pulling away in the XC90 is its 2115kg kerb weight; you always feel that the new engine is working hard to haul the XC90 around. The XC90 also shows its age in corners, as the steering lacks feel and there's plenty of body roll. You never feels like it's going to roll over, but you do get the feeling there are plenty of clever safety features working to help you.
Inside, like the outside, the XC90 feels a bit dated. Our test car had less than 1,000 miles on the clock, yet there were more squeaks and rattles than I'd expect from a new car. Still, the XC90 remains a brilliant mix of SUV and MPV and despite its age it still looks cool.