The Subaru with its high performing Forrester has around since the nineties, made the idea of a chunky estate car popular. For Volvo, the Cross Country badge has been around for more than two decades, signalling that demand for the estate/SUV crossover vehicle has not diminished.
Unlike some of the sportier rivals in its class, the V90 Cross Country has planted its wheels firmly in the comfort and practicality camp. With an extra 60mm of ride height over the standard V90, the Cross Country also gains widened front and rear tracks, chunky tyres, a plate protecting the engine, hill descent-control and a dedicated off-road mode for the steering, powertrain and brakes. So, the V90 is kitted out with all the tricks most large SUVs have making it that perfect choice for anyone wanting genuine off-road capability but without the associated costs of running one. City dwellers should not be put off either, as the Cross Country incorporates a raft of urban-centric safety systems including automatic emergency braking on detection of a hazard, as well as a semi-autonomous Pilot Assist system which combines cruise control with camera, laser and sensor readings to control speed, acceleration and braking. Additionally, the Cross Country can be networked to communicate with other Volvos to give the driver advanced warning of hazards ahead!
The Volvo V90 D5 is powered by a two-litre four-cylinder diesel engine featuring Volvo’s PowerPulse technology (hence the name) that uses compressed air to reduce turbocharger lag. Producing a maximum power of 235bhp and 480 Nm of torque, the D5 Cross Country manages the 0-62mph sprint in 7.5 seconds. As the design brief for the Cross Country is to provide the ultimate in practicality and comfort, white-knuckle launch speeds aren’t required. Perfectly at home on the motorway, the Cross Country eats up the miles without a second thought, leaving passengers happily cosseted in firm but comfortable leather seats. In fact, the interior cabin is one of the key features of the Cross Country, with a wealth of classy refinements and features all well thought-out and finished in high-quality materials. With 560 litres of luggage space (up to 1526 litres if you fold the rear seats flat – a feat accomplished with the push of a button), it’s the perfect car for continental driving or long holidays around the UK. The maximum towing load is 2,500kg, so it’s capable of delivering a caravan to your destination with the minimum of fuss whilst ensuring the driver and passenger arrives almost as fresh as when they started out. Comfort and practicality – nailed!
For many, a key practical aspect to consider is the resale value; particularly important considering the Cross Country is expected to be a hard-working daily drive. Statics show, the appearance of a vehicle can have a significant impact on the residual value when it comes to sale time. The owner of this Cross Country had missed the opportunity to protect his vehicle at point of purchase but was keen to have protective sealants in place as soon as possible. To this end, he arranged for a consultation and, following discussion of his expectations and requirements, the Cross Country was booked in for a Gloss Enhancement Treatment to resolve paintwork marring, to then be protected using a ceramic sealant. Whilst at the studio, the Cross Country would also receive Alloy Wheel Protection and Glass treatment and, as the interior fabric and leather upholstery work as hard as the exterior, protection treatments would be carried out for these too.
The Volvo Cross Country is designed to be used regularly and this one is, by a busy family who use it to do every day family things. As a result, it was dirty, with plenty of fallout, mud, tar and iron contamination on the exterior surfaces. The whole car was more than ready for a deep clean and protection treatments to preserve its cosmetic appearance. – Matt Back, UF Studio
After initial inspection to check the overall condition of the vehicle, the number plates were removed.
Number plates trap dirt and water, so washing the car with them on only results in dirty water running out from behind them and leaving streaks down a clean bumper. Removing the plates eliminates this issue. – Matt Back, UF Studio
A trolley jack was used to raise each corner of the Cross Country, in turn, increasing the gap between wheel and arch.
This Cross Country certainly appeared to be living up to its name as there was a good deal of mud trapped up in the wheel arches and around all the suspension and brake components. First, the surface dirt was rinsed off using a pressure washer, then I applied an all-purpose cleaner and allowed it to dwell for a while, breaking down the hardened elements. Then I used the pressure washer to rinse it away. – Matt Back, UF Studio
Bilt-Hamber Auto Foam was applied to the wheel arches and wheels to lift away larger particles of dirt and grit from the surfaces. After being allowed to dwell this was rinsed away before the area was washed thoroughly using a UF Wheel Bucket with Grit Guard, Wheel Woolies and Gtechniq G-Wash shampoo.
We keep wheel wash water separate from the main wash by having a dedicated bucket and grit guard set. This helps prevent dirt from the dirtiest part of the car from being introduced to the sensitive clear coat on the panels. Wheel Woolies have long handles and come with different sizes of brush heads. This allows you to reach through the spokes to the rear of the rim and as the handles are plastic, there’s no concern about damaging the wheels. The soft microfibre heads are effective at removing dirt and grit, trapping them within the pile and protecting the wheels sensitive finish. – Matt Back, UF Studio
After rinsing, the wheels were treated for tar using Gtechniq W6 Tar & Glue Remover, the active ingredient dissolving the adhesive bonds. After another rinse, W6 Iron & General Fallout Remover was applied to shrink the brake dust particles. Meanwhile, Ultimate Snow Foam was applied to the rest of the car. The foam lifts the larger particles of dirt and grit away from the surface of the panels and the whiteness of the lather highlights the colour change function of W6 acting on the wheels, making the deep purple highly visible.
Once the foam had been rinsed away, the Cross Country was washed using the Two Bucket Method, keeping wash water and rinse water separate to preserve the integrity of the clear coat. On rinsing the suds, the car was given a final rinse using pure water before being brought into the detailing studio and dried using a BigBoi touchless car dryer.
Using the BigBoi is a faster and more effective method of drying a car as the air can be directed into every nook and cranny, forcing water out from mirror housings, badges, grilles. Drying wheels and the area under the wheel arch is easier too, facilitated by the car being placed on a hydraulic ramp, allowing it to be raised to a more accessible working height. – Matt Back, UF Studio
Now clean and dry, the Cross Country’s paintwork could be inspected for swirls, scratches and other blemishes using SCANGRIP high-intensity detailing lights. Under the bright LEDs, wash swirls and the odd random deep scratch (RDS) were visible.
Details of the defects were recorded on a Vehicle Appraisal Sheet for reference during the paint correction stage. Multiple paint depth readings were taken across each panel with thickness and variation within normal limits indicating that the paint was original factory finish.
To effectively correct the paintwork and remove the blemishes, a RUPES LHR 15ES Dual Action polisher was used with a combination of Menzerna Heavy Cut 400 on a Kamikaze Collection Banzai Dynamics cutting pad. Switching to the RUPES LHR 75E Mini Dual Action Polisher for the narrow panels, the smaller head of the Mini lending itself to more efficient polishing of these smaller areas.
For refining, it was an ideal opportunity to try the brand new FLEX PE-150 Cordless Rotary with a FLEX Soft Polishing Pad and Menzerna Super Finish 3800 on low speed setting. I was impressed with how well-balanced the machine is, the weight of the battery perfectly off-set. In terms of power, torque and polishing action, it was just like using a regular, corded machine. If you were machine polishing in an environment where there was limited access to mains power, this would be the perfect solution. – Matt Back, UF Studio
The advent of cordless machine polishers is an exciting development. Anyone who has spent time trying to reach across a large bonnet, or a roof, knows how tricky it can be to prevent the power cable from trailing down onto the paintwork, which increases the chances of scratching or marring as the cable rubs back and forth over it. A cordless machine polisher has been on every detailer’s wish list for a long time but until now there hasn’t been a solution to the loss of power typically associated with battery operated polishers. The key to FLEX’s success has been to develop a battery system capable of providing enough power for a sufficient period of time. – Matt Back, UF Studio
Gtechniq Panel Wipe was used to ensure the finished panels were free from polish or silicone residues before Gtechniq Crystal Serum Ultra (CS Ultra) was applied. Gtechniq’s flagship coating, CS Ultra is applied as a single layer, yet cures as two distinct layers. The lower layer cures to a hardness of around 7H, providing flexibility to the coating. The upper layer cures to a hardness of 10H to provide superior resistance to wash swirls.
CS Ultra is virtually impervious to extremes of pH, protecting lacquer from chemicals splashed up from roads, acid rain and harsh wash chemicals. To ensure CS Ultra is able to bond fully with the clear coat, it is essential to ensure the coating is applied under strict conditions, with temperature and humidity within set parameters. Once cured, CS Ultra carries a manufacturer’s performance guarantee of ten years. For these reasons, CS Ultra is available only as a service through Gtechniq-approved detailers. In addition to the highly protective qualities, CS provides a glossy, hydrophobic surface, easier to maintain as contamination adheres less easily.
With British summer on the way, the Cross Country’s owner opted for a nano-coating for the windscreen. Gtechniq G1 Smart Glass was applied, providing a hydrophobic barrier that repels rainwater and the contamination it carries, helping to keep the window cleaner for longer and reducing driver fatigue during inclement weather.
The interior of the Cross Country was vacuumed to remove loose debris from the carpets and seats. To tackle small areas where drinks spillages had occurred, a weak solution of all-purpose cleaner was applied to lift the stain out of the fibres. Once dry, the carpets were protected with Gtechniq I1 Smart Fabric AB which harnesses the power of nanotechnology to coat the individual fibres, providing hydrophobic protection from waterborne stains without affecting the feel of the material. ‘AB’ denotes an anti-bacterial function, killing off bacteria, helping to keep the interior smelling fresh.
Leather upholstery was first cleaned using Colourlock Mild Leather Cleaner. This foam is applied on a sponge, with a Leather Brush used on stitching or problem areas to ensure dirt is lifted out of the leather grain. After wiping the area with a microfibre and leaving it to dry completely, Gtechniq I1 AB Leather Guard was sprayed onto the surface. This provides a hydrophobic, dust repelling, abrasion resistant layer that also helps prevent UV fade.
Finally, the alloy wheels were sprayed with Panel Wipe and buffed off before Gtechniq C5 Alloy Wheel Armour was applied. This highly hydrophobic coating is resilient to high temperatures, such as those generated by hard-working wheels, so will not burn off. The coating provides a barrier against dirt and oil build up as well as inhibiting brake dust adhesion. Treated surfaces are easier to maintain, negating the requirement for astringent wheel washes. To complement the finish of the wheels, T2 Tyre Dressing was applied, giving the tyres a natural satin sheen.
The Cross Country was now looking better than when it left the showroom and with next generation protective coatings on each and every substrate, will continue to do so for years to come.