14 Dec 2016 | 12.27 pm
Roadtest: Volvo S90
It's a revolution and a revelation
14 Dec 2016 | 12.27 pm
The feature-packed S90 raises Volvo’s game by some margin, writes Olive Keogh
Volvo is gunning for the 5 Series, A6 and E-Class with its new flagship S90 saloon. This is ambitious territory to be staking a claim to, but Volvo is enjoying one of the most successful periods in its history and is on course for its third year of record sales.
Its profit margin is up, it’s had a very successful revamp of the XC60 and the Volvo XC90 nearly won the 2016 European Car of the Year — an accolade that has never been awarded to an SUV. Volvo is aiming for global volume of 800,000 units by 2020 courtesy of a major product renewal, and the S90 is the latest model in that process.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Volvos, even with their boxy exteriors, awkward switchgear and clunky gearboxes, mainly because the company has always put its money where its mouth is when it comes to safety, and because it has a long history of producing really practical, capacious estate cars you could move house in.
The S90 raises Volvo’s game by some margin. Its sleek exterior puts it right up to the Germans on styling, as does the quality interior, which is as good as they offer but somehow less austere. The use of visually attractive materials that are also pleasing to the touch helps, as do detail design touches such as the doorsills’ signature strip lighting. The fascia design is simple and uncluttered, with easy and intuitive access to the 9-inch touchscreen, where all the main functions are controlled by simple taps.
The menu of features and optional extras available on the S90 is extensive and the test car came laden, which contributed to its hefty price tag. A whirlwind trip of what’s on board includes Apple Car play, a DAB radio, hands-free Bluetooth, a high-performance sound system, and access to a range of selected web apps and an internet browser.
The test car also had full leather upholstery with power front cushion extenders and side support, eye wateringly expensive alloys, eight-speed automatic transmission, a 360-degree view camera, a head-up windscreen display, adaptive cruise control, LED headlights with active high beam, automatically dimming exterior mirrors and two-zone electronic climate control.
The S90 also comes with Pilot Assist as standard. It uses the adaptive cruise control to keep the vehicle at the chosen speed while monitoring the vehicle ahead, automatically slowing down or speeding up as necessary. It can also control the steering function at speeds up to 130kmp. Also featured on the S90 is city safety automatic braking system and run-off road protection, which detects if the car is about to leave the road.
The S90 is a big car (bigger than its equivalent German rivals) and it comes with particularly good rear legroom. The power units currently available are two versions of Volvo’s four-cylinder diesel, the D4 with 190bhp and the D5 with 235bhp. The test car had the D5; it’s powerful and refined, and comes with a feature called Powerpulse, which counteracts turbo lag. Rear air suspension is an option but worth the outlay (€2,600), as it smooths out rough surfaces better than the standard suspension.
In theory, the S90 replaces the S80 but they are like chalk and cheese. If the S90 presages what’s to come during Volvo’s renaissance, then there is a lot to look forward to.
Model Volvo S90 saloon Inscription
Engine 2.0 litre D5 diesel, automatic, AWD
Safety City Safety, including pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection. Front collision warning with auto brake, road edge detection, run-off road protection, driver alert control, lane-keeping aid, multiple airbags, SIPS, WHIPS, IC and stability and traction control
Fuel 4.8L/100km combined cycle
Verdict A revolution and a revelation