Driven: Volvo S90 D5 Inscription
Volvo has come a very long way since the reveal of the XC 90 which seemingly spearheaded their move into the upmarket luxury vehicle segment. Following the XC 90 was the introduction of the new Volvo S90 – a full-sized luxury sedan. We got to spend a few days with the Volvo S90 D5 Inscription to see if it was worthy of competing against the usual suspects in this segment, such as the BMW 5-Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
The Inscription package fitted on our test unit is clearly focused on making the S90 look luxurious as opposed to the sporty look that many of its rivals exude. There is chrome all over the car with the centrepiece being the slatted chrome grille up front between the intimidating ‘Thor’s Hammer’ headlights. The overall shape of the car is very angular and boxy which is refreshing in this day and age where coupe-styled sedans are trending. The bonnet line is strong, flowing up into the roof with integrated tilting and sliding sunroof. The rear features some of the most unique taillights in this class which also emphasise the width of the car. The boot also makes good use of design to add depth to the different levels, eliminating the flat rear effect. I really like the look of the S90. It has the signature new-age Volvo design which is aging very gracefully. It’s a car that can still rock the chrome look without being pretentious while oozing luxury and opulence.
The interior is a bit more reserved but functional nonetheless. Premium materials dominate the entirety of the cabin with leather on the seat, metal on the buttons and gloss black finishes around the dash. The seats are very comfortable and feature electronic adjustment, heating and cooling as well as a massage function that allows you to tailor the speed, intensity and location of the massage. The steering wheel is clean and uncluttered with a few buttons reserved for media controls and the adaptive cruise control, which paired with lane-keep assist unlocks a semi-autonomous driving experience. Infotainment is managed by a vertical tablet-like touchscreen display at the centre of the dash which takes a bit of getting used to. One of the highlights of the Volvo S90 D5’s interior is the Bower and Wilkins high definition sound system which is still one of the best in-car sound systems I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. The machined metal start, volume and drive mode selector buttons add a touch of individuality to the cabin. The interior of the S90 is minimalistic which isn’t a problem unless you’ve driven a newer Mercedes-Benz or BMW, and one of the features that you really miss is interior lighting because the S90 gets very dark inside at night. Still, it’s a pleasant space to be in and can provide excellent comfort for cross country trips.
Speaking of cross country trips, the S90 is a car that just devours long distances. The engine is to thank for most of this. The 2.0-litre turbodiesel motor is smooth in comfort mode and powerful in dynamic mode thanks to the 173kW of power and 480Nm of torque available on tap. The automatic transmission climbs up and down the gears with ease and actually works very nicely in Eco mode to bring out the S90’s frugal side. I averaged 8.0-litres/100km which gave me a range of about 1000-kilometers on a full tank which is very impressive considering the size and mass of the car. The Volvo XC90 D5 was one of my favourite Volvo’s to drive, but the only thing that held it back was its lack of performance in Dynamic mode. The S90 solves that problem by providing an engaging drive when I wanted it.