Volvo believes its upcoming V90 could lead a sales resurgence in large, luxury wagons.
Due in 2017, the Volvo V90 and its higher riding, SUV-inspired sibling, the V90 Cross Country, share the front-end design of the recently arrived S90 but team it with a sleek wagon body.
While the S90 is tipped to be a low volume vehicle – selling 20-25 per month as a Swedish alternative to German luxury sedans such as the BMW 5-Series, Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class - Volvo Car Australia managing director Kevin McCann says the wagon could have the potential to revitalise the brand’s wagon appeal.
“The [luxury] wagon sector is miniscule,” admits McCann. “However, because of the history of Volvo in wagons and the attractiveness of the V90 and V90 Cross Country we think we might lead a resurgence in that segment.”
McCann points to the unprecedented shift to SUVs and how there is an opportunity to tempt people back into a car with similar interior space and flexibility but without the higher ride height that can compromise dynamics and comfort.
He says Volvo’s heritage in wagons positions the brand perfectly to capitalise on demand for wagons.
“We’ve got such a strong brand presence … around Volvo wagons and it’s a really beautiful looking car.”
In the late 1990s and early 2000s the Volvo V70 wagon outsold the sedan three-to-one, at times registering as the best seller in the Volvo range. It was later overtaken by the V70 Cross Country, which used the same wagon body but had design add-ons and higher suspension to give it an SUV look.
McCann says it will be a slow road tempting people away from the feast of luxury SUVs, but he believes there is scope to build a loyal and unique following.
“The reality is a lot of those buyers have migrated to SUVs … the challenge for us now is to bring them back,” says McCann.
“As we’ve seen with the launch of XC90 a lot of our customers who we lost because we took so long to change the model are coming back to us because they loved it so much.
“If that same trend happens … we’re quietly confident that we’ll make an impact [with V90 and V90 Cross Country].”
McCann hints the V90 and V90 Cross Country (pictured below) could comfortably outsell the S90 in Australia but that “it’ll take time to get the word around”.
Volvo will also have more competition than ever.
Audi’s Allroad models – particularly the A6 Allroad that will most directly compete with the V90 Cross Country – also have a loyal buyer base.
And Mercedes-Benz will soon enter the low-riding SUV-style wagon market with its upcoming E-Class All Terrain.
Even Holden will have a more affordable off-road-style wagon based on the first imported Holden Commodore from 2018, although that car is likely to compete more closely with the Subaru Outback that is one of the pioneers of the breed.