When Volvo brought the XC90 to India last year, it promoted the SUV along the lines of the best luxury option (that isn’t a sedan) that money can buy. Well, it looks like that they have finally lived up to that promise with the launch of the XC90 T8 hybrid Excellence. This is a sort of landmark model as it brings Volvo’s hybrid technology to India but also for the first time has brought the Excellence trim package. As the name suggests, it is an ultra-luxurious trim package and offers the best of everything that the Swedish automaker has in terms of making the car feel rich and luxurious. This now puts it in contention with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class or more specifically the S-Class S400. It is the most successful of the big German sedans on sale in India today. How do they stack up? Well read on to find out.
At the outset and in an obvious sense, both cars are massive and have a big presence. They are both over 4.8 metres long and have equally large wheelbases. The obvious difference is that one is the traditional sedan body style while the XC90 is an SUV. They, then, appeal to people who are looking for the specific body style and this should be a slight advantage for XC90 as it is the only one to offer an SUV body style with so much luxury at this price range. It arrives at a time when the entire world is moving towards crossovers and SUVs across price brackets.
When your cars are priced above Rs 1 crore (or in this case above Rs 1.20 crore) you expect a lot of kit as standard. It is all there - multi-zone climate control, infotainment system with rear screen, leather trim and ventilated seats with massagers and memory function. The S400 seats 5 as it has a bench at the rear whereas the XC90 is a bit more special as it designed to be a strict four seater. There is a traditional charm with the S-Class as it gets wood trim, brushed aluminium and a tried and tested layout for luxury cars. It’s a bit different with the XC90 as Volvo has adapted a minimalist approach and moved a majority of the functions to large touchscreen displays thus reducing the number of buttons all around.
In terms of basic safety (from cars priced above Rs 1 crore) both are evenly matched and offer similar number of airbags, stability programmes, ABS with EBD and anything else that protects the occupants in the event of an accident. However, the XC90 takes it a notch higher thanks to multiple radar-based safety systems that it has brought to India for the first time. Given that they are the future of all safety systems and quite popular in Europe and America, this seems like the way forward and hopefully, the Centre will be able to revise its policies to fully permit radar-based system in India.
Engine and gearbox
The Volvo XC90 T8 Hybrid is offered with a 2.0-litre petrol engine as well as electric motors giving it AWD and the ability to do 40km on pure electric power. Together both engines produce 407bhp and a massive 640Nm of torque. All this output is channelled through an eight-speed AT. It is currently the only vehicle in this price range to offer this dual combination.
The S400 on the other hand gets a 3.0-litre V6 petrol that produces 329bhp and 480Nm of torque with power going to the rear wheels via a seven-speed AT. When it was launched in 2015 in the Chinese market, the S400 debuted as a hybrid, but that option is not offered in the Indian market. The Volvo is more powerful both in terms of torque and power thanks to the hybrid setup. As an added bonus the ability to drive in electric mode also makes the car appealing to those who want to be in with the times but not compromise on the luxury factor.
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class S400 is the best of where we have come from and embodies all the traditional points of appeal for a large luxury car. The Volvo XC90 appears to be the way forward both in terms of functionality and appeal of body style and will ultimately also cater to those stepping foot into the ultra-luxury segment for the first time.