The 2022 Volvo XC90 is en route to South Africa – and the big news is the incorporation of new mild-hybrid petrol engines, which will offer XC90 drivers a more fuel-efficient and smoother driving experience.

The current XC90 T5 will be replaced by the new XC90 B5 while the current XC90 T6 will be replaced by the new XC90 B6. The two new models will be joined by the XC90 T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid.

The two newcomers feature mild-hybrid petrol engines with a Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) that recovers brake energy to charge a 48V battery. An integrated starter generator uses this energy to support the combustion engine.

According to Greg Maruszewski, Managing Director at Volvo Car South Africa, there are many benefits to the new engines. “Emissions are reduced and fuel economy is improved. Furthermore, thanks to the 48-volt battery, the vehicle’s performance during start-up and take-off is exemplary. From a practical point of view, there are no cables; the vehicle does not need to be charged at an electrical socket,” he explains.

The new XC90 will feature an updated eight-speed Geartronic gearbox with shift-by-wire as well as a new stop/start system. The former affords drivers a far more enjoyable driving experience; shift-by-wire technology allows drivers to control the transmission electrically (a luxurious touch is the new gearshift produced from handmade Swedish crystal). The latter is a vastly improved system, which ensures that the switching off and on functions are barely discernible. The system also responds much faster.

While there are no radical changes to the exterior styling of the XC90 (an evolutionary approach with subtle changes to the design language is used instead), there are a number of new and changed interior features.

For instance, there is a new CleanZone system, which dramatically improves the quality of the air inside the car. This world-first premium air quality technology comes with a sensor that measures PM 2.5 levels inside the cabin. CleanZone cleans the car’s interior and removes those tiny particles (that can be 100 times smaller than human hair), which would normally be inhaled by the motorist. Significantly, via the Volvo app, it is even possible to pre-clean the XC90 before entering the vehicle.

The simple – yet enormously practical – parking ticket holder has also been reintroduced in response to customer demand.

Furthermore, many options have been simplified in order to reduce confusion amongst customers. For instance, there is a simplified upholstery offering, the alloy wheel programme has been consolidated and the exterior colour palette has also been updated.

Maruszewski believes that the latest XC90 is a big step forward for the vehicle that is already the pinnacle of the Volvo range. “It represents the core qualities we are building into all our cars – not least of which being cleaner and highly efficient powertrains. We’re proud to be making these available to our customers while still offering the luxury, performance, design, connectivity and advanced technology upon which we have built our success as a brand,” he concludes.