Just testing: Volvo XC90 2.0 D5 PowerPulse Inscription AWD Geartronic

Tim Gibson puts Volvo’s flagship SUV through its paces, and is impressed by what he discovers.

When Volvo launched the second-generation XC90 in 2014, it replaced a vehicle that had been around for more than a decade. The fact the original version had only just started to feel its age is testimony to Volvo’s skill in building cars that last. Indeed, as many a Volvo dealer will explain, the challenge facing them is not getting buyers into a new Volvo, but getting them out of their old one.

Even so, the all-new XC90 felt like a significant step up for Volvo’s flagship SUV. The technology was cutting edge, the economy revolutionary, and the level of luxury a class apart from the model it replaced.

Now, four years after its launch and three years before a third-generation model is expected, it’s interesting to see how the XC90 stacks up against its since-updated competition. Does it still feel as modern and classy against the might of the Land Rover Discovery 5? And what does the new Volkswagen Touareg do to the XC90’s status as SUV of choice at the school gate?

Credible competitor

Having driven the XC90 extensively since it launched, I can say with confidence that it remains a credible competitor. No other all-roader in this class delivers such a combination of comfort and safety. And few – with the exception of the vehicles mentioned above – carry it off without seeming gaudy or just a trifle over the top.

This speaks of the thing I most admire about Volvo’s current model line-up. The company has upped the ante in terms of premium quality. But it’s done so without sacrificing its traditional ability to exude confidence without seeming flashy. For some, that’s a turn-off. They want the bling of a Range Rover Sport or Audi Q7. For me, it’s a definite point in Volvo’s favour.

A touchy subject

So the XC90 starts from a strong position. But it is by no means faultless. While the large touch screen in the centre console felt innovative when the car was launched, it’s already feeling a bit passé. I’ve always worried that it will develop glitches over time, just like the iPads it resembles. It would be an expensive but necessary fix, because pretty much all the interior controls – climate, stereo, sat nav – are housed there.

My principal criticism is that the touch screen is fiddly to use. Even after several long-distance drives in the XC90 and its tech-sharing stable mates like the XC60 and new V60, I feel as if I can’t master the controls without pulling over and giving the screen my full attention.

In a car that has always traded on its safety credentials, that potential for driver distraction feels like a shortcoming. Mind you, the Pilot Assist technology is a helpful counterbalance: it enables you to maintain a constant distance from the car in front, even if it stops in traffic, and will gently readjust the steering if you happen to wander from your lane on a motorway. On an all-night journey from Scotland to Somerset, this was hugely reassuring, playing a significant role in minimising driver fatigue.

Diesel power

The gutsy 232hp diesel engine plays a role here, giving a sense of effortless power at all speeds. I haven’t tried it, but the XC90 feels like it would be an accomplished tow car, with ample torque and the sort of weight that will pull trailers and caravans with ease.

For all that might, fuel consumption is pleasingly modest: you’ll get a real-world 45mpg out of it on a long run, and early-40s under mixed use. Buyers who want even greater frugality, as well as miniscule CO2 emissions of 59g/km, can choose the green-spirited T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid instead of this diesel variant.

This car points to Volvo’s future. The company is pursuing an ambitious electrification strategy and has announced that it won’t launch new models with diesel variants from the new S60 onwards. As the car maker with perhaps the world’s best credentials for acting responsibly (witness its altruistic sharing of the three-point seatbelt with other manufacturers when engineer Nils Bohlin invented it in the 1950s), this move should seem unsurprising.

For lovers of diesel-powered 4x4s, though, the current XC90 D5 is a treat. It provides a wonderful driving experience, with the automatic gearbox working effortlessly to maintain smooth forward motion on country roads, A-roads and motorways alike.

A flexible seven-seat interior makes the XC90 handy for families, and you can change the configuration in a matter of seconds. With the rearmost seats stowed flat, you’ll have a boot that can swallow pretty much everything needed for a two-week holiday, and still squeeze in your pet dog.

So the XC90 is credible as well as enjoyable to live with. Like the car it replaced, it’s proving to have an enduring appeal. In the midst of middle age, there’s still plenty to love about this gently ageing beauty.

On test

  • Volvo XC90 2.0 D5 PowerPulse Inscription Geartronic
  • 232hp
  • 6mpg on combined cycle (official figure)
  • 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds
  • 149g/km CO2 emissions
  • Price: £54,885 (but there’s usually a deal to be done at Volvo main dealers)

Tim Gibson has written about cars for 25 years. His work regularly appears in The Daily Telegraph and other national media.

© 2018 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

With thoughts regarding cars and their future, why not read our article on – 10 jobs of the future

Or you can view our other Lifestyle articles - Lifestyle

Jobs currently available

Featured job
Management Accountant
Sector: Accountancy, Banking and Finance
Salary: £30,000 - £38,000
Location: Haverhill
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 906965
About the role

The Just Recruitment Group have a superb opportunity for an experienced Management Accountant to join our client on a fulltime, permanent basis working near to Haverhill.

Reporting directly to the CEO of this fast growing successful company. The business is currently growing at 20% per annum and is at a pivotal moment in its development. New premises have been purchased and new sales and accounting systems are due to be installed in the coming 6 months. This role will be part of the senior management team and involved in key decision making for the business going forward.

Responsibilities include:

  • Responsible for the whole of the accounts department and production of the monthly management report and KPIs.
  • Managing the accounts assistant who has primary responsibility for the purchase ledger.
  • Managing UK and overseas payments, controlling deposits and advance payments.
  • Cash management including weekly forecasting of cash and credit control.
  • Running all aspects of payroll.
  • Management of Royal London pension scheme.
  • Responsibility of all company insurances and utility suppliers.
  • Working with the Operations Manager, analysing profit and cost variances to budget.
  • Implementation of new accounting system, which will free up purchase ledger clerk to take some of the more administrative elements of this role.
  • Job and departmental profit analysis.
  • Monthly VAT returns and Bank reconciliations.
  • Ad-hoc tasks necessary for the for Senior Managers and Directors.
  • Management of personnel files.
  • Administration and other duties relevant to the role.

The ideal candidate will possess the following skills:

  • Experience working in a fast moving busy office environment.
  • Ability to work to deadlines, quickly and accurately under pressure.
  • Ability to prioritise.
  • Discretion required due to nature of the role.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Confident in using Microsoft Excel.
  • Flexible and adaptable.
  • ACA/ACCA/CIMA Qualifications are desirable but not essential.

 

Read more
Featured job
Service Engineer
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: £30,000 to £35,000 Per Annum
Location: National
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 906655
About the role

This position is based nationally and reports to the Field Service Manager.

Responsibilities

  • Attending customer sites across the UK and Ireland as required by the business.
  • Delivering routine preventative maintenance and repair work as scheduled by the service coordinator.
  • Attending product breakdown calls, providing technical assistance to customers and supporting service refurbishment activities.
  • Working efficiently and safely, always within the companies Health & Safety guidelines.
  • Delivering high standards of customer service and maintaining a commercial outlook towards the business.
  • Occasional visits to our parent company in Denmark or attending other manufacturing sites for the purpose of training or support.
  • Active input into the strategic activities of the business when required.

Qualification 

  • Full clean driving licence
  • Knowledge of ventilation systems
  • Knowledge of refrigeration systems
  • Knowledge of control systems
  • Health and Safety, including but not limited to, a strong understanding of making and working within risk assessments and method statements.

Skills

  • Electrical
  • Braising
  • Fault finding

Experience

  • Service and preventative maintenance on HVAC products at a national level

Personal attributes

  • Honest
  • Diligent
  • Flexible
  • Supportive Team player
  • Work effectively and safely alone.

Hours

Monday to Friday 08:30 – 17:00 with a 60-minute unpaid lunch break. However, will be expected to work such additional hours as are necessary for the proper performance of your duties.

Reward Package

  • Competitive Salary (based on experience/qualifications)
  • Bonus scheme (Profit related)
  • 25 days holiday per annum (up to 5 days used for Christmas shutdown) increasing with length of service, up to a maximum of 30 days per year
  • Company sick pay (after 13 weeks service and increases with length of service)
  • Pension Scheme
  • Auto-enrolment 3% employee contribution and 2% employer
  • Group Personal Pension Scheme (once qualified) 3% employee contribution and 3% employer increasing with length of service
  • Life Assurance (2 x basic salary)
  • Private Medical Insurance (once qualified)
  • Childcare Voucher Scheme
  • Employee Assistance Programme

Other benefits

  • Monthly flexi-Fridays (staff can leave at 2pm, having made the time up that week)
  • Medical appointments paid up to one hour (excluding opticians)
Read more
New job
Truss Designer
Sector: Property and Construction
Salary: £30k-£32k
Location: Halstead
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 907456
About the role

Just Recruitment is currently recruiting on behalf of an independent Builder and Timber Merchants based on the Suffolk/Essex border.

They supply to retail, sole traders, commercial trade and small contractors right up to national house builders and developers.

They are looking for a Truss Designer to join the team.

The role will involve working with architects and engineers as well as creating layouts for roofs. The candidate will be working with 3D drawings and using systems such as Wolf Enterprise and Rivet.

The successful candidate will:

  • Have experience in a similar role
  • Experience in using Wolf/Rivet systems
  • Be detail conscious, with the ability to ensure work is always completed accurately and on time
  • Able to liaise with customers and provide knowledgeable service both in the office and on-site
  • Have a clean driving licence
  • Be highly customer focussed
  • Be highly organised

Benefits:

  • Competitive salary subject to experience
  • Contributory Stakeholder Pension Scheme
  • 25 days holiday plus bank holidays
  • 40 hours per week, Monday-Friday 8am-5pm
Read more
New job
I-Beam Designer
Sector: Property and Construction
Salary: £35,000 - £40,000
Location: Colchester
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 907449
About the role

The Just Recruitment Group is currently recruiting for an I-Beam Designer to join an independent Builder and Timber Merchants in Colchester. 

Monday to Friday 8.00am to 5.00pm 

25 days holiday rising with continuous service 

The company has its own manufacturing facility producing Truss, Eco-Joists and I-Beams. They also stock and supply a wide range of heavy as well as light side building materials, timber, sheet materials, landscaping products, joinery and doors. 

The in-house designers will produce EU5 approved Truss and I-Beam solutions for almost all types of construction. 

The vacancy is for an existing Designer/Estimator to design and price I-Beams. 

The successful candidate will have relevant construction design and estimating experience and will need: 

  • A Clean Driving License 
  • The ability to ensure work is always completely accurate and within time constraints. 
  • To be highly customer focused – have good communications skills, with both customers and colleagues. 
  • To liaise with customers and provide a knowledgeable service both in the office and on-site visits. 
  • Attend customer and site meetings as required. 
Read more
New job
Group Financial Controller
Sector: Accountancy, Banking and Finance
Salary: £50,000 - £58,000
Location: Earls Colne
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 907432
About the role

The Just Recruitment Group is currently recruiting for a Group Financial Controller within the property sector. 

The role will involve day-to-day finances, the controllership function and any ad hoc projects that may arise – contributing significantly to the commercial management and strategic direction of the company. 

Responsibilities:

  • Running the daily accounting processes, delivering weekly, monthly and board financial reporting, according to applicable accounting standards and to internal and external reporting deadlines. 
  • Overseeing accurate, efficient and timely transactional processes.
  • Preparing and reviewing bank reconciliations, loan schedules, inter-company recharges etc. 
  • Monitoring and forecasting company cash flows. 
  • Debtor and creditor reporting and management. 
  • Review of payroll, VAT and corporation tax returns processed by external accountants. 
  • Commission and expense claim review. 
  • Review and transmission of BACS files. 

Requirements:

  • A degree qualified ACA or ACCA accountant with a commercial and analytical approach.
  • The ideal candidate will have had previous experience in a commercial finance controller role, as well as managing staff members. 
  • Experience in budgeting, forecasting and reporting. 
  • Intermediate to advanced applications software expertise (Excel, Xero plus others). 
  • Meticulous attention to detail and accuracy in work product. 
  • Ability to meet and establish deadlines. 
  • Excellent interpersonal skills with all levels of staff and a team player. 
  • Flexible, energetic and highly motivated with the ability to thrive in a fast paced, high growth environment. 
Read more
New job
Group Credit Controller
Sector: Accountancy, Banking and Finance
Salary: £20,000 -£22,000
Location: Outskirts of Halstead
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 907429
About the role

The Just Recruitment Group are delighted to be supporting our client who are currently recruiting for a Group Credit Controller to join their busy team based on the outskirts of Halstead. 

Our client is a well respected company within the Property industry and this is an excellent opportunity to join a stable and growing business. 

Overview: 

  • The Group Credit Controller will report directly to the Group Financial Controller. 
  • Responsibility for the proactive management and reporting of amounts outstanding to Group Companies. 
  • A leading role re: day-to-day finances, ensuring timely payments are made, incoming funds are processed, invoices reconciled, account queries resolved and debt recovery managed. 
  • This role requires building and maintaining strong relationships with external clients, as well as internal colleagues to ensure the smooth running of accounts. 

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • The timely and effective collection of all debts and customer payments. 
  • Keeping accurate notes of correspondence and communication as required. 
  • Proactive and regular liaison with external clients, preparing and sending regular statements of account, resolving queries and ensuring invoices are clear for payment. 
  • Regular liaison with all internal departments to ascertain collectability of debts and progress time lines. 
  • Working with colleagues of all levels to ensure customers pay on time and overdue invoices are effectively chased. 
  • Reconciliation, posting of receipts and updating of customer notes in accounting systems. 
  • Provision of regular reports, including Board reporting re: debt position, status and recovery actions. 
  • Escalating problem debts to the Group Finance Controller and Senior Management and working with them to achieve settlement of outstanding amounts, including instructing legal action. 
  • Active involvement in the implementation of new systems and development of processes, enabling automation and efficiency savings re: debt collection 

Personal Specifications 

  • The ideal candidate will have had at least two years’ experience in a credit control role. 
  • Meticulous attention to detail and accuracy in work product, with an ability to reconcile complex accounts and manage a high level of transactions. 
  • Intermediate to advanced applications software expertise (including MS Excel and Xero). 
  • Able to maintain strong and appropriate relationships with external clients e.g.. House Builders, Executors and Private Clients, as well as internal colleagues. 
  • Professional, calm and confident in handling potentially uncomfortable conversations. 
  • Ability to meet and establish deadlines. 

Other:

  • Achieve targets as set by the company. 
  • Maintain the Group values at all times when interacting with colleagues and clients. 
  • Ensure company appointed processes are adhered to all times. 

In return our client offers an attractive salary and benefits package. 
Due to our clients location you will require access to your own transport. 

Our client operates Monday to Friday 9-6 so this is a rare opportunity to join a Property based company that does not include evening or weekend working. 

Read more
New job
Buying Assistant
Sector: Purchasing and Merchandising
Salary: £17,000 - £18,000
Location: Braintree
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 907417
About the role

Do you have a background in retail?

Want to start a career in Buying for a new exciting role based within an office environment? 

Our client is seeking a Buying Assistant to join their friendly and driven team.

You will be responsible for creating and managing new products and brands into the business. 

Duties: 

  • Confirm selection with supplier 
  • Send out company information and new supplier forms 
  • Create products on the system 
  • Complete commodity codes and weights prior to delivery 
  • Manage brand schedule and liaise with purchasing to ensure on time deliveries 
  • Manage product updates – naming, pack sizes etc…
  • Manage restrictions spreadsheet and update team when necessary Managing computer drive folders to ensure price lists and catalogues are saved as well as up to date 
  • Carry out seasonal competitor shops 
  • Assist in unpacking and organising samples 

Experience and Skills:

  • Excellent attention to detail 
  • Good communication skills 
  • Good time management/ability to prioritise without supervision 
  • Ability to use own initiative 
  • Good command of Excel/Word/PowerPoint
Read more