There are very few wagons in South Africa. You might just see the odd Audi A6 Allroad, older Merc Estate or one of the ballistic Audi RS6s, the only family car that can make a Ferrari driver sweat on a mountain pass. But if you happen to speak to the drivers, you’ll likely get a response coloured by a middle or northern European accent. German, Swiss, Austrian, Dutch and Scandinavians adore estate cars. The undisputed king of wagon makers has introduced a brand new one: the V90 Cross Country.
This model did quite well in the past: just make South Africans believe it’s a crossover or SUV and they’ll buy it. Mercedes-Benz and Audi offer their big wagons in heels, like the E-Class Terrain or the A6 Allroad, but neither is available locally. This means the V90 Cross Country is basically a car without competition. To add to that, this third new Volvo, following the XC90 and S90, is a design masterpiece. I liked the Volvo XC90, loved the S90 and now I want to immigrate to Sweden.
The Volvo I drove was equipped with R185 485 of optional extras. The most important one, the Adventure Pack (R75 000), was created specifically for the local market and offers plenty of lifestyle-oriented extras. You’ll find a panoramic roof, a 230V power outlet, integrated compass and air suspension. Out on bumpy country roads, the V90 was a comfortable cruiser, very much like the S90. Off tarmac the V90 resembled the XC90. In off-road mode with raised suspension it easily ironed out deeper ruts. So if you can’t decide whether to buy the XC90 SUV or S90 limousine, get the V90 instead – and you’ll have access to both worlds. Despite my Bavarian heritage, I was surprised by how strongly this Swede captivated me.