By on September 15, 2014

20140914_170938Volvo hasn’t been particularly discreet about the next XC90. Plenty of spy photos have been taken of the car undergoing winter testing in Scandinavia and hot weather testing out in the American southwest, though I don’t believe that this exact combination of swirly camo wrap and plastic cladding has been seen before. From the Arizona plates on the car it was likely used for desert testing as well. The Volvo engineers testing the mule for radio frequency interference weren’t going out of their way to hide what they were doing either.

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They were in the parking lot of a drug store adjacent to a couple of radio transmission towers and the XC90 prototype was flanked by a couple of brand new XC60s with manufacturer’s plates. The location is less than a mile from my house, not far from where I’ve spotted camo’d prototypes before, and I just happened to be driving by. Is there anything more conspicuous than a prototype car covered by black and white camo graphics and bulky plastic cladding? It’s almost as though they want you to see these photos as the run-up to the actual reveal proceeds.

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That may be why the Volvo guys didn’t seem perturbed when I pulled into the lot, walked up and said, “testing the new 90 for RFI?” The oldest Nordic gentleman there smiled and said, “Yeah.” We chatted a bit about the radio farm in the neighborhood while his colleagues fiddled with what appeared to be breadboarded electronics in the cargo hold of one of the XC60s. They were so nice that I even asked if they minded if I took some photos, not that I had to. They graciously told me sure, so I took an abbreviated form of my usual sequence of shots, though I waited until after I was done to tell them that I was an editor here at TTAC.

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I’d have to see one side by side with the current XC90, and perhaps my perspective is skewed by the fact that it was next to the XC60s, but it seems to me to be pretty large, maybe even larger than the current car. A little bit of internet-fu shows that the new XC90, to be introduced late this year or early in 2016, will indeed be about 4 inches (100mm) longer than the outgoing crossover. Even without the smaller younger siblings next to it, it’s obviously a Volvo. Behind the ersatz BMW cladding up front you can see the Volvo grille, and the taillamps look ready for production in Gothenburg. Speaking of which, while photos of the production version of what is supposed to be the new XC90 have been leaked, the taillamps and headlights on this prototype are different than those on the leaked photos.

It’s not unheard of for car companies to continue to use development mules after those cars have been introduced to the public. A month after the Cadillac ELR was revealed at the 2013 NAIAS in Detroit, I spotted a camo’d ELR prototype in the parking structure at McCormick Place while I was there for the Chicago Auto Show. Maybe this XC90 is an early prototype that has been pressed into RFI testing, or maybe they were just using its cargo capacity to haul around equipment.

No matter what the engineers were doing with it, the seven passenger vehicle and de facto Volvo flagship will be the first built on Volvo’s all-new Scalable Platform Architecture, SPA, that will underpin much of the Volvo lineup, including several 60 and 40 series models, going forward. It will be powered by an engine from Volvo’s new family of four cylinder engines. The most powerful one in the XC90 will likely feature both an exhaust driven turbocharger and a mechanically driven supercharger and put out more than 400 hp. The new motor replaces a 3 liter engine in the current model. Expect diesel and hybrid versions as well.

I sure hope they test the Concept Estate, should they make it, in my neighborhood.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

 

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