► First spyshots of new Volvo S90, V90
► New range-toppers due in 2016
► Expect a dose of Scandinavian style
Following hot on the heels of the XC90 come the new 2016 Volvo S90 and V90 twins - plunging Volvo back into the large premium car heartland.
STOP PRESS: The Volvo S90 has now been officially revealed in full. Click here to visit our new story, with full gallery and details.
Leaked pictures of a 1:43 scale model from a factory in China, published by internet site CarNewsChina, have revealed the V90 estate variant from every angle. As predicted, there’s more than a hint of the 2014 Volvo Estate Concept in the design treatment, with enormous, expressive tail-lights and a striking new variation on the ‘Thor’s Hammer’ headlamp graphics first seen on the current XC90.
Browse this story’s gallery for early cameraphone spy photos of the real thing, revealing the big Swedes in heavily camouflaged prototype guise.
Nominally replacing the S80 and V70, the new 90 series models will be aimed at the executive set of the Audi A6, BMW 5-series and Mercedes E-class.
As Volvo’s badging hierarchy indicates, the S90 is the saloon; the V90 the more versatile estate. A jacked-up V90 Cross Country version will follow, replacing today's XC70.
Large Volvos rediscover style
Remember the Volvo Concept Estate shown at the 2014 Geneva motor show, and pictured in our gallery here? That’s the blueprint for the new top-end Volvos, according to the company's boss in Britain, who promises a dose of Swedish style under the boxy, bolted-on disguise of this test hack.
‘[The S90] very clearly demonstrates the transition to where we’re heading, more so than an estate or another XC product,’ said Nick Connor, managing director Volvo Car UK. ‘The S90 will surprise, and have more impact than just another large Volvo estate car.
‘The dimensions are much more premium than today’s S80’s. The interior is the next step from XC90 but with a higher level of quality; we’ve recruited Robin Page from Bentley to head up our interior design and it really shows. People will say this is very different and distinctive compared with the Germans. It will have the benefit of MMI infotainment that is easy to use, Drive-E engines and clean Scandinavian lines that look stunning.’
The Drive-E motors are the four-cylinder-only engine family powering the XC90 range; no characterful five- or six-cylinder engines here (let alone the Yamaha-derived V8 that briefly powered an earlier XC90).
Volvo S90 and V90 join the XC90
The new saloon and wagon twins will partner the XC90 crossover, recently launched and driven by CAR magazine as the flagship of the rejuvenated Volvo range.
Want an idea of the Swedes’ ambition? They plan to replace the entire range by 2020, using an $11 billion fighting fund raised separately from parent company Geely.
All cars will be spun off the Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), apart from the V40 replacement destined to use a 'CMA' platform co-developed with Geely. Both platforms are plug-in hybrid compatible.
‘We couldn’t do it any faster, this timeline of launches is right for us,’ added Connor. ‘To replace the entire product line-up in four years is pretty good by anyone’s standards.’
Global growth: Volvo chases the Germans
Gothenburg is gunning for 800,000 sales by 2020, up from 460k in 2014. In the UK, Volvo is projecting a sales increase from 45k to 60k. That’s a 2% market share.
Sounds reasonable, but remember that Volvo currently sells only 400 S80s a year in Great Britain!
Prices up too
Expect Volvo to nudge prices upwards; buoyed by the success of £70k XC90 First Edition (54 of the 1927 produced will come to the UK). ‘If we have the right product, price is less important,’ said Connor. ‘If you have old product that’s less competitive, you have to sell on price.’
That, in a nutshell, is the end game of the premium product conundrum. To be rewarded for desirable, quality products with strong, undiscounted pricing.