In watching and reading the recent plethora of reviews of the new Volvo V90, there seems to be a common thread between all journalists in their slight disappointment over the lack of top trumps status regarding boot space. Volvo’s decision to slant the rear screen in the pursuit of style rather than space, much to the displacement of the ideology of a Volvo estate, is a good metaphor for what kind of people are actually buying them. The estate car has somewhere along the line become the lifestyle choice; hear me out on this one.
So what is the staple family car these days? A Nissan Qashqai for the middle class mum, Volvo XC90’s clogging up the Waitrose carpark, a BMW X1 for the ignorant and a Toyota RAV4 for when the Archers becomes a little too scandalous. All these ‘so called’ lifestyle vehicles are sold to the very antithesis of what is meant to sell these types of cars in the first place; where did all the lifestyle people go? Well they got out of the tall, slow and compromised SUV’s and headed back to the little known corner of the market that seemed to have been left behind.
The way to spot these people lie on what has been bolted to the roof, snowboard holders, kayak rigs, they are all these days seen on the roof of the humble, and not so humble estate car. Skoda seems to have attracted a very trendy type of buyer, as it seems every single Octavia VRS estate is fitted with a cool paraphernalia holder of some description. There is little doubt that there is a cooler car out there than an Audi RS4 Avant with a snowboard on the roof racks. Young surfers have sidestepped their Jeep’s in search of old giant Mercedes and Volvo’s, so their precious boards worth more then the cars themselves don’t get nicked at the beachside café, meanwhile those that actually off-road, buy proper off-roaders, not pseudo hatchbacks with a bit of plastic around the wheel arches.
So as the wagon buyer is rarely buying into a family cliché these days, Volvo shrewdly made the V90 a bit more of the style icon, a niche player, compared to the more buyer friendly XC90. Look deep into the specification and options and this theory become’s stronger. Volvo offers 21 (!) inch wheels and all manner of outdoor lifestyle accessories; and there are rumors of a Polestar fettled hybrid, which should give AMG a scare or two. Volvo have pulled a very smart trick in terms of laying the foundation of making what they are known for, the full size estate, and turning it into their own kind of halo model. Think about a Volvo V90 with a 500bhp turbo, super and electrically charged powertrain, 21 inch wheels and four wheel drive, now that’s a lifestyle vehicle.