The adventure starts long before we reach our destination. A remote outcrop at the top of a winding road, overlooking the edge of the North Atlantic. We’re driving here in a car designed to take you to the heart of the adventure in supreme comfort and style, whatever the conditions: the All-New Volvo V90 Cross Country.
The landscape we’re travelling across is straight out of a classic adventure novel. We’re in an isolated corner of the Scottish Highlands, a beautiful but treacherous place where the right equipment is essential. I remember this when I get into the V90 Cross Country to shelter from the fierce storm that’s rolling in over the mountains. Watching the rain through the panoramic roof, I switch on my heated seat, use Apple CarPlayTM to select a track to play through the Premium Sound by Bowers & WilkinsTM speakers, and settle in for the drive ahead.
The road starts to bend and snake into the mountains and I recall a conversation I had with Volvo Cars’ dynamics expert Mattias Davidsson before this trip. He explained what makes this car special: “The slightly softer suspension and longer wheel travel of the V90 Cross Country results in a very high level of suspension comfort. But what is really amazing is the car still handles incredibly well, too. We have achieved the perfect balance between agility and comfort.”
Our path takes us off main roads and into the inviting landscape ahead. This means negotiating rocky lanes, gravel paths, fast-flowing streams and inclines that induce a sharp intake of breath. A 3D map on Sensus Navigation, displayed vertically so it’s easier to read, confirms just how remote this landscape really is.
Using the drive mode selector, I change from Dynamic to Off Road mode. The V90 Cross Country now displays a remarkably different character. According to Mattias, Off Road mode gives you extra confidence in all driving conditions. “In Off Road mode the engine and gearbox are optimised for traction,” he said. “The accelerator is adjusted to avoid inadvertently exceeding 40km/h, the steering is set to comfort, and the all-wheel drive distributes power between the front and rear wheels. This makes you feel very much in control.”
The grip from the all-wheel-drive chassis and impressive ground clearance allow the All-New V90 Cross Country to make its way in this inhospitable terrain effortlessly. And with Hill Descent Control, which is automatically activated in Off Road mode, the car can safely negotiate steep gradients. It’s a car that instils a lot of confidence in the driver.
As we pass fields of heather and hills shrouded in mist, the connection with nature, the sense of freedom and the comfort of being suitably equipped for the conditions invoke a spirit of adventure that you can only experience on journeys like these.
Our journey culminates at the Quiraing, a beautiful and mysterious escarpment on the Isle of Skye, overlooking the Sound of Raasay. Surrounded on three sides by forbidding but spectacular mountains, we have reached the end of the road. It is now time to explore this wilderness on foot, reluctantly leaving the sanctuary of the All-New V90 Cross Country.