Volvo S90: A calm, cool and comfortable sedan
There’s a simple reason why Volvo’s new S90 deserves your attention: with its crisp lines and beautiful cabin, it’s gorgeous in a stylish and classy manner. But, that isn’t the only reason why the Volvo S90 deserves a closer look. As the name suggests, this Volvo sits a rung above the car it replaces, the S80, and that’s also down to the hardware and technology on offer. Can the Scandinavian sedan ruffle a few feathers?
Design & Styling
The S90, built on Volvo’s new SPA platform, is striking to look at while keeping the reassuring simplicity and solidity that has been a Volvo hallmark. The front grille with the concave elements connects the S90 to classic Volvos. A long and low bonnet coupled with a swooping roofline gives the S90 a sleek look and will help it stand out in its segment. It is very nearly a stately fastback.
There is a strength in the clean and crisp lines that give the S90 a strong-shouldered look as it runs along the sides and into the tail lamps. The rear of the S90 is also distinctive, with the large tail lamps dominating the design. The creases on the boot help to break the mass and the integrated exhaust openings lower down on the fender are a nice touch.
The S90 is offered only in the Inscription trim, which is absolutely feature-packed. Hence, you can see full-LED headlamps with cornering functionality, self-parking with Park Assist and drive-out functionality. It even has a powered-operated tailgate which makes opening and closing the boot a breeze. The S90 provides an ample boot space of 500 litres with a fairly low lip that makes loading it an easy affair.
There is a reassuringly solid feel to the S90, from the time you grab the meaty pull-type door handles to the way the door thuds shut behind you. Seated in the front there is no doubting that this car takes luxury very seriously. The seats are beautifully cushioned and offer a variety of support (lumbar, under-thigh, side bolstering) adjustments and are cooled and heated as well. Details such as the vertical air-vents for the air-con system and the solid metal knob to adjust flow add a sense of style and robustness.
Everything from the door pads, seats and the dashboard is wrapped in leather and there is even a chunk of walnut wood decorating the simple and clutter-free dashboard. Taking pride of place is the 9-inch Sensus touchscreen system that acts as the interface between the driver and all vehicle systems. This includes air-conditioning, reversing camera, car settings and infotainment functionalities. It also gets wireless connectivity options via Bluetooth and broadband technology. Speaking of music playback, the Volvo S90 gets a Bowers and Wilkins sound system that sounds rich and crisp. While these should make the occupants feel at home, the driver too gets his own set of goodies such as the Head-up display unit which provides information such as speed, revs and GPS turn-by-turn navigation.
Step into the backseat and you realise that to do so you kind of drop down onto the seats. The backseat is impressive; knee room is great and the seats, as in the front, are very well-shaped. Large windows and a foldable armrest makes the rear bench airy and comfortable.
The list of features on the S90 includes dual-zone climate control for the rear passengers with vents on the centre console and on the B-pillar. There are also manually operated sun blinds for the windows. A nifty feature is the built-in children’s booster seat that pop out of the seat base. These are adjustable in height to suit children of different age groups. And, yes, the S90 comes with adjustable air-suspension as standard. More on that up ahead.
Engine & Performance
Globally, Volvo has made the leap of faith and transitioned their entire engine family to a four-cylinder configuration with 2 litres of displacement, petrol and diesel, dubbed Drive-E. These come in various stages of tune and the one offered in the S90 is the D4. This is essentially the same engine seen in the XC90, but in a lower state of tune. This engine transfers power to the front wheels via an 8-speed gearbox.
Now, on the road the 190PS engine feels plenty punchy. It is easy to drive as it tugs you forward from as low as 1500rpm and gets properly quick from 2000rpm. The engine impresses as it pulls eagerly to 4600rpm, where it changes up even if you choose to opt of the Dynamic mode. As a result, the S90 will be an absolutely companionable machine for those looking to motor along calmly in the city and for those wanting to cover distance quickly on highways. It could be considered a credit to the insulation that the cabin offers.
Ride & Handling
The S90’s strength is its focus on luxury. In Comfort mode the standard Air Suspension offers a pillowy ride, which most people stuck in the urban crawl will surely love. However, the Dynamic mode was the one we preferred as it controlled the up-and-down body bobbing movement without sacrificing on comfort. On roads that were nothing more than mud and rock, this Volvo magic-carpeted over them. It was only on very rare occasions that the suspension seemed to let a thunk through, and even then, you could hear it more and feel it less.
It has left us with a clear impression of being very confident and sure-footed. At high speeds it is unflustered and shows abundant determination in long and fast bends. The brakes are plain fantastic, with incredible bite that is delivered just as your foot suggests.
In Dynamic mode the better body control and the heavier steering wheel give a greater sense of connection, and the grip from the Pirelli P Zeros custom-created for Volvo are reassuring too. S90 is a car you would happily use to transport yourself quickly and comfortably for many kilometres without hesitation.