► Full Volvo S90 UK review
► We test less powerful D4 saloon
► Driven in base Momentum spec
Volvo’s rapidly refreshing its product line-up under Geely’s ownership. It doesn’t seem so long ago that the XC90 SUV’s arrival in 2015 heralded a brave new Chinese-owned era – and here we are, with a pair of fellow 90-series models, the S90 saloon and V90 estate, joining the party a year later.
We’re testing the Volvo S90 in entry-level D4 engine trim and equipped in lowly Momentum spec. Will this poverty choice leave us feeling short-changed from £32k?
That kind of money would bag us an entry-level Audi A6, BMW 5-series or Jaguar XF. So the Volvo had better be good… Read on for CAR’s UK review.
What does your £32,555 price tag bag you?
Every S90 comes with the fancy Sensus touchscreen, sat-nav with lifetime mapping updates, voice control, leather heated seats, twin-zone climate control and a bundle of safety kit (no surprises there).
Our entry-level Momentum car had its price inflated to £39,280 by the following extras:
- Xenium pack Ssunroof, 360-degree parking cameras with the sharpest HD picture we’ve yet witnessed, automatic parking, £1800
- Winter pack Hheated windscreen, wheel and washer nozzles, plus headlamp cleaner jets, £525
- Nappa soft leather £1050
- Metallic paint £1000
- Electric driver’s seat with memory £600
- Electric passenger seat £400
- Blindspot information system £600
- Apple CarPlay with USB and auxiliary sockets £300
- Volvo On Call £450
The good news is, the D4 feels every inch a quality product, even without lashings of options. The fundamental build quality is classy, inside and out, and the cabin is a lovely place to sit.
It’s almost entirely pinched from the XC90 and, having lived with one of those for half a year (see our long-term test review here), I can vouch this is A Good Thing.
Inside the Volvo S90 interior
There are a few changes Volvo fans will notice here, such as the super-sized, vertical air vents. The Sensus touchscreen digital hub is carried over and is slowly improving: it’s used to control all heating, stereo, mapping and such like, operating logically, although there’s so much bundled into it you sometimes wish for a physical button or two. It’s hard to see how digital ventilation controls are safer/easier to operate than physical buttons, for instance.
Still, it liberates an admirably minimalist dashboard and we counted just six buttons. Special mention to the seats: they’re typically Volvo-comfy and we love the Swedish flag branding on the piping.
Remember the S90’s cabin is quite spec-sensitive, however; there are plenty of facings and trims to choose from and our Momentum’s boggo black rollback cupholder cover (depicted in the configurator screengrabs in the gallery) felt cheap compared with plusher versions’ metallic finish. Ditto the single digital-dial instruments, where higher-end models get a full digi widescreen.
Click here for our Volvo V90 range overview.
What’s the S90 D4 like to drive?
Volvo is cleverly carving out a reputation for distinctive, comfort-oriented executive cars priced to tempt those away from the Germanic default choices. The S90 in this spec only continues that good work.
We’ve already driven the Volvo S90 D5 PowerPulse AWD Inscription top-ender and that car proved a bit OTT for our tester, who gave it three stars.
Driven here in less powerful, front-wheel drive form, the S90 has a pleasant gait to proceedings: it’s relaxed, comfortable and rides well with just enough precision and agility to keep you interested through the twisties. We’d stick with the standard 17in alloys, rather than upgraded rims though (ours rolled on jiggly 19s).
Enthusiasts may still prefer a 5-series or XF, and seekers of outright luxury waft an E-class – but there’s much to like here. Just remember it’s four-cylinders only, folks; no six-pots are offered in the new Volvo era.
Under load, such as joining a motorway, it’s disappointingly vocal and rattly just like in our XC90, although things settle down at a cruise. Performance is well judged; it doesn’t feel like the slowest car in the range, and the eight-speed auto slushes cogs with a seamless insouciance.
Practical, is it?
You bet. At damn nearly 5m long, the Volvo S90 is a big car, yet never feels too giant to place on the road. And that footprint liberates lashings of space – especially in the rear, where leg and headroom are vast (though a high transmission tunnel pinches space for a third passenger).
The boot’s a good size too, with 500 litres of capacity, although the loading aperture is quite shallow. You do get a ski hatch though. It’s all the rage for Gothenburgers.
Further Swedish touches abound: all key viewing areas are heated (windscreens front and rear, door mirrors), so visibility is guaranteed without having to scrape your knuckles raw on a winter’s morn.
This is a comfortable, great-looking four-door executive saloon that has much going for it. We averaged 38mpg in our week with the car, although that should rise to the 40s driven more carefully (still some way off the 64mpg claim, mind you).
The tech on offer is deeply impressive. There are few better examples of semi-autonomous tech on sale: Pilot Assist will drive for you on dual carriageways, although quite alarmingly at times, and we triggered a surprisingly rapid emergency seatbelt clench by driving over a crest a bit too fast.
But the Volvo S90 puts Volvo back on the front foot. We’re thrilled the Swedes have rediscovered subdued style and this entry-level S90 makes a fine alternative to a rep-spec 520d or A6 2.0 TDI. We like.
Read more Volvo car reviews here