There is an entertaining new trend in the car world. It’s called ‘hunt the automotive Easter egg’, and it involves seeking out hidden little design treasures concealed around a car’s interior for the amusement of an inquisitive owner.
I mentioned this recently when reviewing the Jeep Renegade. This new Jeep has an assortment of little ‘eggs’ scattered around its cabin, waiting there for you to discover if you look closely enough.
Long before that, in 2006, Vauxhall were at it in the old model Corsa. The car had a sneaky little cartoon shark in a raised motif, tucked into the side edges of the glovebox, and only discoverable when you opened it.
At the time, Vauxhall said it started as a doodle, just for fun, when the designer was drawing the initial plans for the car’s cabin. It amused the bosses, and so it stayed, and became a private joke feature of the car when it went into production.
Then BMW joined in with a sneaky Z carved into the sides of the Z4 sports car. It’s subtle, so most people don’t notice it, but look at the body just ahead of the door, and it’s there.
Now Volvo is at it. The new XC90, just arriving on British roads, has spiders in the boot. Yes, really. They are concealed inside the lids of the pair of little stowage boxes that are located in the boot walls. So don’t get a shock if you are an arachnophobe and you open one.
To strengthen the lids, a criss-cross of protruding ridges has been built into their undersides. They resemble spider’s webs, and someone had the bright idea of adding a spider on each one, as a hidden adornment to surprise and delight – well, maybe – an unsuspecting owner.
There’s more. A tiny Swedish flag is sewn into the edge of the driver’s seat, and ‘since 1959’ – when a Volvo engineer invented them – is engraved on the seat belt buckles.
So, spiders and the rest aside, what’s it like, Volvo’s new flagship car? It’s not the prettiest thing on the road, but it redeems its rounded-brick looks by being really good to drive. The original XC90, launched in 2002, has been around for 13 years, and so it has been overdue for replacement. It has done very well for Volvo, with more than 600,000 of them sold around the world, including 55,000 here in the UK.
Volvo is Swedish-based, but Chinese owned. Like Britain’s London Taxi Company, it is owned by Geely. The new XC90 has undergone a radical change from the old model’s bought-in five- and six-cylinder engines to the new one’s in-house-designed two-litre, four-cylinder unit.
The big Volvo is a polished performer with grippy road-holding, taut handling and a well-damped ride on standard suspension – so no need to go for pricey air suspension. Cabin quality has improved dramatically, including a tablet-style nine-inch touchscreen display. Pricing starts from £45,500.