Volvo S90


   Funny, isn’t it, how certain cars just feel so instantly comfortable?

   My first encounter with Volvo’s latest S90 was on very dark, very wet evening. After fumbling a little trying to find the correct but frustratingly small button on the S90’s key – strangely for car so determinedly designed to steal sales from the German executive crowd, there was no keyless entry on the S90 lent me - I found refuge from the deluge.

   On first encounters it’s probably fair to say that the S90’s interior lacks the instant visual appeal of that of an Audi A6, or perhaps the bomb-proof build quality feeling of both a BMW’s 5 series or the Mercedes E-class: it’s little dour, and this particular case very black. I guess you have to pay extra for blonde woods inlays and the full Scandi-chic look.

   Nevertheless it is very generously equipped. Even in the more modest Momentum spec you’re treated to dual-zone climate control, some incredibly supportive leather seats - heated of course, as is the steering wheel and windscreen - and the same nine-inch touch screen and Sensus Connect Navigation and infotainment system that first saw light of day in Volvo’s new XC90 SUV. A few swipes of the screen, a button press or three, and a quick adjustment of the S90’s steering column is all it takes to get warm and comfy, find the quickest way home, connect your phone and apps of course, and tune in the DAB. A twist of the square knob on centre console is all it takes to start the engine.

     The S90 sits on the same Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA) as the aforementioned XC90, so not only is its interior recognisable to anyone who’s driven a modern Volvo, so are its engines. Unlike the Bavarians, the Swedish (albeit now Chinese owned) won’t offer their new executive saloon with a six cylinder diesel: It’s a 2.0 litre four or nothing. There’s no manual gearbox option either.

   In front-wheel-drive form the 190hp D4 (as tested), offers a claimed combined fuel consumption of 64.2 mpg with CO2 emissions of just 116 g/km. Should your budget or more likely that of your fleet manager’s stretch to it, the D5 produces 235hp, gets all–wheel drive and incorporates an innovative technology called PowerPulse to boost responsiveness by utilising compressed air, which is stored in a tank in the engine bay and refilled automatically, to spool up the turbo at low revs and thus reduce turbo lag.  

     Worked hard and from cold the 4 cylinder motor inevitably sounds a little gruff, but once up to temperature and free from the evening traffic it makes for relaxed cruising. There’s more than enough performance, the auto ‘box seems eager to select the appropriate cogs, and driven carefully, the S90 proves pretty frugal too.

    It’s not however, a sports saloon. The S90’s been set up to waft rather than leave anything in its wake. It is always composed and it always very stable and therefore very easy to place, but the steering is quite light, and a tad slow too. Search elsewhere if you’re the type who likes to drive. That said it’s never unpredictable.

  And of course, being a Volvo it’s incredibly safe.

    Pilot Assist, Volvo’s innovative semi-autonomous drive feature, is standard on every S90. Once activated it automatically keeps you at a set speed or distance from the vehicle in front, braking and accelerating with the flow of traffic, whilst providing gentle steering inputs to keep the car within lane markings at motorway speeds of up to 80 mph, and unlike previous versions of the system, it no longer needs to follow another car.

  Every S90 also gets the latest version of Volvo’s City Safety which includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, plus a world-first application of large-animal detection, a system that’s developed to help avoid or limit the severity of collisions with large animals such as deer or horses both at night, and during the day.

  There’ also Run–off road protection which automatically tightens the front seat belts (Volvo invented those too remember?) should the car inadvertently leave the road.

    Stylish, well equipped, safe, and perhaps best of all a welcome from the establishment that is the German executive-saloon norm, the Volvo S90 instantly proves itself to be worthy of your undivided attention. No wonder then that I felt so comfy on such a cold and dark evening. Could you really ever need anything more?



Volvo 90 2.0 D4 Momentum Automatic

Engine: 1,969cc 4Cyl 16V Petrol

Transmission: 8 speed Auto, Front wheel drive.

Power:  190 bhp @ 4250 rpm

Torque: 295 lbft @ 1,750 – 2,500 rpm

0-62MPH: 7.9 Sec

Max Speed: 140 mph

CO2: 116 g/km

MPG: 64.2 (combined)

Price: from £32,555 (as driven £38,005)


Many thanks to Carly Volvo’s UK press office for the loan of the S90



Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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