Volvo XC90 is 2016 WesBank / SAGMJ Car of the Year Johann van Tonder

Volvo XC90 is 2016 WesBank / SAGMJ Car of the Year Johann van Tonder

The all-new Volvo XC90 has been named the 2016 WesBank / SAGMJ Car of the Year (COTY). As the second Volvo to walk away with the prestigious motoring accolade in the competition’s 31-year history, the accolade comes at a time when the Volvo brand is undergoing a complete rejuvenation which started with the all-new XC90.

The latest local motoring accolade joins the new XC90’s long list of international awards, the total of which now exceeds 60. Other significant awards include the Women’s World Car of the Year, North American Truck of the Year, European Car of the Year, Best SUV (Scottish Car of the Year) and Icelandic Car of the Year awards.

“We are absolutely delighted with our victory,” comments Volvo Car South Africa Managing Director, Greg Maruszewski. “With the all-new XC90 we are not only re-writing the rules of a post-modern luxury driving experience but reinventing our brand as well. Our ethos, ‘Made by Sweden’, expresses our intrinsic Scandinavian roots, love for people, heritage and attitude to building some of the world’s most desirable – and safest – luxury vehicles.”

The all-new XC90 follows in the footsteps of the Volvo S40, which received the coveted award in 2005.

Facing prodigiously tough competition in this year’s 12-vehicle strong line-up – vehicles that all represent the best of the best from a cross-section of segments and price points – the Volvo XC90 made for a worthy contestant, ultimately taking South Africa’s most prestigious motoring prize.

The South African competition boasts a world-first this year, with a purpose-designed digital scoring system breaking new ground for vehicles evaluation and assessment. Yet, although the scoring mechanism may have evolved, the SAGMJ continues to adhere to COTY’s most unique feature in that each of the finalists was still put through a stringent testing procedure by the peer-elected COTY Jury at the world-renowned Gerotek Vehicle Testing Facility outside Pretoria.

Here, the winning vehicle is evaluated and scored in relation to its segment competitors, with each vehicle’s final score determined by assessing exterior aesthetics, interior design and practicality, safety and technology, handling and dynamics, performance, efficiency, value for money and overall excellence.

“The SUV market represents approximately 30% of the total South African passenger car market,” says Bernard Hellberg Jr, COTY Chairman, and Chairman of the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists. “The Volvo XC90 represents a significant portion of this market and has proven itself a worthy winner of the SAGMJ’s ultimate accolade.” he concludes.

Powered by new-generation 2.0-litre turbocharged Drive-E petrol and diesel engines, which are mated to an 8-speed Geartronic automatic gearbox, the XC90 mixes Swedish luxury and classy, minimalistic design with supreme road manners and efficient driving dynamics.

Volvo’s all-new Sensus Connect infotainment system, which is presented as a 9-inch tablet-like touch screen interface, is also setting new precedents for design and functionality thanks to its intuitive usability and long list of functions.

Safety is of course, as with any other Volvo, top priority. The all-new Volvo XC90 received a full five-star Euro NCAP safety rating in 2015 thanks to its highly-advanced safety systems, which include pedestrian and cyclist detection with forward collision warning and full auto brake, run-off-road protection and other driving assistance features like adaptive cruise control and active lane-keeping assistance.

In fact, so advanced is the XC90’s pedestrian detection system that independent safety regulators have yet to develop suitable testing protocols. The all-new XC90 was applauded by Euro NCAP for Best in Class Safety (Large Off-road and Overall) in 2016. It has also been awarded the Top Safety Pick+ award by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in the United States.

This relentless drive on safety forms part of Volvo’s Vision 2020 programme which seeks to ensure that nobody is seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo by 2020.

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