Volvo’s sophisticated S90 revisited
Swedish carmaker Volvo is a brand on the move, since its emancipation from Ford in 2010 the company has been going it alone in terms of design, platform and powertrain development. With an increased emphasis on SUVs and indeed, electrification, the Swedish brand's S90 appears to be a bit of an outsider, even within its own stable, however, our recent experience in a D5 Inscription variant only cemented our positive feelings surrounding this large sedan.
Design in the DNA
The design principles adopted by Volvo are admirable; take the rather svelte XC90 that has been with us for some time as an example. We feel that the S90 looks even better than its SUV sibling. Upfront, the massive P1800-esque grille dominates the front end while the "Thor's Hammer" appears again, in the front lights, an apparent theme, very Scandinavian of them.
In side profile, the car screams sports sedan with a few nods to the S90's Germanic rivals. The rear end is perhaps the most controversial aspect of the car. It's either a love/hate scenario, we love it however the shape of the rear lights and surfacing of the rear section are certainly talking points.
Interior, pretty Swede
The interior of the S90 is very similar to the XC90 and pretty much every other Volvo product, which poses a conundrum, should those who own the more affordable Volvo models be satisfied that they share the same look as the flagship products, or should an S90 owner bemoan the fact that they share an infotainment system and digital instrument cluster with an XC40? This debate aside, the fit and finish inside the vehicle are as you'd expect from a premium product. Leather and soft-touch materials are to be found everywhere, along with a general impression of tangible quality. There is also a large boot and enough room for six-foot-plus adults in the rear.
The layout is clean, simplistic, with an emphasis on the portrait-mounted central infotainment screen which controls many of the car's functions. The system has been slightly upgraded and now features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, which are must-haves in any luxury product in 2020.
Engines and driving
Our favourite engine within the S90 range just so happens to be the D5 that we had one test. This all-wheel drive 2.0-litre diesel model gets 173kW/480Nm and what Volvo calls Power Pulse. In basic terms it’s a cylinder that is filled with compressed air which spools to turbocharger up faster, meaning less lag. This technology works very well in action, there is still a bit of lag but nothing like many other diesel automatic vehicles out there. Overall, the D5 isn't the most frugal diesel out there, returning around 8.8L/100km versus an incredibly optimistic 4.8 L/100km claim, however, it is still rather punchy and makes for effortless progress.
The S90 has received updates to its Pilot Assist system throughput its model life. This is a semi-autonomous driving system that works up to 130km/h. We used this system of the freeways and it works very well indeed, the vehicle requires you to have a hand on the wheel and after that, it will brake, steer and accelerate for you. There are also items such a City Safety which helps the driver in the urban environment, large animal detection, which is self-explanatory as well as Run-Off-Road Mitigation which saves those who have fallen asleep behind the wheel.
Volvo is producing great vehicles at the moment; there are perhaps areas where the Germans may be sharper however the fact remains that the offerings that the brand have come up with are very appealing. The technology produced and the general enthusiasm of everyone associated with the brand means that the future looks bright for the Swedes.
Sadly, we are certain that the aforementioned future isn’t as bright for the S90 in particular, with the large saloon car slowing fading away. That being said, the old adding of feeling like a million bucks is certainly apt, especially from our experience in the S90 recently.
Volvo S90 D5 AWD Inscription R 999 100