It’s the successor to the old S80 but feels light years ahead of the outdated sedan it replaces. Meet the Volvo S90, an all-new flagship sedan from the Chinese-owned Swedish automaker, that’s built on the company’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform, which also underpins the brilliant XC90. This means it gets the same cutting-edge tech, a high-quality cabin, all the safety features from the SUV, and some more.
The SPA platform marks the start of a new era for Volvo under its new owner Geely, who has pumped in a massive investment for a complete overhaul of the brand’s product line-up. The S90 is the second model to emerge under the Geely ownership and comes with the promise of taking on the heavy-weight German brands. So do the Mercedes E-class, BMW 5-series and Audi A6, against which the S90 is pitted, have any reason to worry? Check specifications,features & price of Volvo S90
The Volvo S90 will replace the ageing S80 and more importantly mark the company’s entry into a segment that has heavyweights like the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A6 and the updated Jaguar XF. If you close your eyes for a moment and think about the design of all these cars for a moment, the most noticeable similarity is the aggression in the design, almost to the point of intimidation. Now this isn’t a bad thing at all and I personally like some of these cars but there are people who prefer subtlety and elegance and sadly for them, there was no choice in this segment till the S90 hit the headlines in India.
The S90 catches an onlooker’s attention with its Thor-shaped DRLs in the sleek headlamps and concave metallic rings, which have been designed to look as if they’re suspended in the air. The inspiration for this and some bits on the rear comes from the iconic Volvo P1800 ES. The S90 also gets a long hood, which has been designed to look straight and despite a slight curve it does look almost straight when viewed from a fair bit of distance. The reason to not have any power bulges or scoops was to curb the aggression and add elegance and the S90 does that in style. On the side, the low-slung body with the length of the car creates an impressive sight. The S90 looks longer than its competitors because it is the longest in its segment and Volvo designers have done a good job of lending a visual accentuation through a play of lines. Get offers & discounts on Volvo S90
Yes, the front resembles the XC90 but that’s perfectly fine since the XC90 isn’t an old design. Plus, the side looks different and the rear section can simply leave one captivated. The S90’s rear once again takes inspiration from the P1800 ES and does what no other car in the segment does – create a perfect harmony of classic design language and modern design elements and merge them to create a gaze worthy result. The sharp creases at the top of the tail lamp extend and merge into the pronounced boot line, which also sits on top of the VOLVO branding.Overall, the S90 not only comes across as a fresh breeze within the Volvo portfolio, it looks totally different from its German and British competitors. For that reason, there is little doubt that consumers will take the S90 seriously once it gets launched in November.
Where Volvo’s interiors have always been known for their solidity and ease of operation, design finesse wasn’t one of the attributes it was associated with. The S90 though is very different and it benefits from the approach taken in the XC90. As soon as you enter the cabin you are greeted by a dashboard that looks rich and thoroughly modern. It is covered in high grade leather and it also gets wood and chrome inserts to break the monotony. Where the S80’s centre console had nearly 40 buttons to operate different functions, the S90 just has eight! This makes the dash look clean and clutter free. The 9-inch infotainment system that dominates proceedings is super responsive and straight away feels familiar thanks to it working like any regular tablet. It houses all the car functions like navigation, drive modes, air-con and other ancillaries. Overall quality is really impressive, except for some bits which could have been better. For example the touchscreen is a fingerprint magnet and the engine start switch feels a bit flimsy.
My absolute favourite though are the front seats. Every bulge, contour, shape and the cushioning is just spot on. The seats, like on all Volvos, are designed with help from Orthopaedic surgeons and without a doubt they are one of the best in the business. You can also adjust the side bolsters, lumber and squab to alter them further to your liking. But according to Volvo they have given lot of emphasis to the rear seat and it shows. There is loads of kneeroom at the back and shoulder room is in abundance too. But the stylish coupe like roofline, somewhat ruins what would have been a near perfect backseat experience. To generate enough headroom Volvo had to place the bench low as a result both ingress and under thigh support suffers. Don’t get me wrong it is still a fine rear seat but in company of the Mercedes E-Class and BMW 5 Series the S90 might just fall short. The boot though is quite generous at 500 litres and you also get auto tailgate with auto opening function to further air practicality.
Volvo will offer the S90 in the Inscription variant and it will have features like Nappa leather upholstery, cooled and heated front seats, walnut wood trim and an electric tailgate. There’s also the lane keeping aid, park assist pilot, hill start assist, heads-up display, LED head lamps, airbags, Bowers and Wilkins music system with subwoofer, and the long list of safety features which is expected of a Volvo car.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE ;
The S90 has been launched internationally with a wide range of 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines. But for India, the 190hp D4 diesel is what we will get initially, followed by the 235hp D5 model sometime later. Volvo could also introduce a T6 petrol model to the line-up. And it’s the D5 diesel and T6 petrol engines, both of which are mated to an all-new eight-speed transmission, that I sampled over two days in southern Spain.
The D5 diesel comes with lots more hardware than most of its rivals. Firstly, all-wheel drive is standard and further enhancing the hefty 480Nm of torque this version of the 2.0-litre diesel engine produces is Volvo’s ‘Power Pulse’ technology. The system pumps compressed air into the turbocharger to speed it up, thereby eliminating turbo lag. The result is good response from low speed and an extremely linear build up of power. However, you do miss the spike or surge in power which is characteristic of most turbo diesels and the top-end whack of the D5 isn’t as impressive as its pulling power from low revs. Also at high revs the four-cylinder engine gets a bit vocal and it’s best to drive the S90 in a relaxed way.
The 320hp T6 petrol also packs a decent punch and a claimed 0-100kph of 5.9sec makes it seriously fast and clearly the quickest in its class. However, in the real world, this engine needs to be worked a bit harder than the diesel and doesn’t waft you away as effortlessly. The mid-range isn’t quite as strong and you tend to rev the engine quite hard when you’re in a hurry. As you approach the 6,500rpm redline it gets a bit thrashy and you can tell this engine is a four-cylinder unit. However, drive it normally or at moderate revs and the T6 feels remarkably refined, and it’s very quiet at idle too.
Cabin insulation is pretty good, but at high speeds there’s a fair bit of wind noise, especially around the A-pillar. The best way to drown out any external noise is by cranking up the 1400W Bowers & Wilkins audio system; the sound quality is simply ear-boggling. What will also be music to Indian buyers’ ears is that the Bowers & Wilkins system will be available on the D4 too.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
The S90’s relaxed demeanour is best experienced in the way it rides and handles. The suspension is tuned to the soft side with a strong focus on comfort than keen handling. Inevitably, the S90 doesn’t dart into corners enthusiastically nor does it encourage quick direction changes. Also, the S90 has the tendency to float over crests and undulations, especially with the adjustable air suspension in Comfort mode. The ride is overall pillowy and extremely cosseting, but it’s not perfect. Hitting the odd rut or a sharp edge can be quite jarring owing to the low profile tyres on 20-inch wheels. For India, the S90 is expected with higher profile tyres which will provide better cushioning on bad roads. Air suspension will be part of the kit offered on the S90 D4 headed to India.
Enthusiasts will find the S90’s steering numb and devoid of feel but for the average driver it feels nicely weighted and predictable. The real party trick and the S90’s best stand-out feature is the ‘Pilot Assist’ function which is the closest you can get to autonomous driving. This system combines adaptive cruise control and lane keeping aid and works incredibly well on highways that have clear lane markers.It’s eerie the way the steering gently turns on its own to maintain your lane and all it requires is for a hand to gently rest on the wheel. The Pilot Assist function also allows the S90 to brake and accelerate on its own, to keep a safe distance with the car ahead. This function, however, won’t be offered in India as certain radar frequencies used by the system are banned here, and where are the lane markers anyway?
Volvo is slowly and steadily increasing its dealership network across the country and currently they have presence in most major cities. On the safety front, the S90 is equipped with SIPS airbags, inflatable curtains, whiplash protection, pretensioners for all seats, EBA, Intelligent Driver Information System, Lane Keeping Aid, Hill Start Assist, etc.
The Volvo S90 is definitely very lovable and the entire package feels very complete. It is very hard to find any major flaws with the car and honestly we think it is easily one of the best offerings in its segment right now. The S90 should really be your pick if you want finesse, exclusivity, superior comfort and oodles of technology. For those who want more power, Volvo will launch the S90 D5 AWD in 2017 too.