Volvo S90 review, test drive

    The all-new Volvo sedan has a different take on luxury to stand out from the crowd.

    Published on Jul 01, 2016 01:15:00 PM


    Make : Volvo
    Model : S90

    What is it?

    It’s the successor to the old S80 but feels light years ahead of the outdated sedan it replaces.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?

    The truth is that the S90 doesn’t take its rivals head on, and Volvo has consciously made it a bit different instead of a direct ‘me too’ competitor. Like with the XC90 before it, the S90 too has carved its unique groove to appeal to the sensible luxury car buyer who prefers comfort and practicality to something sportier and flashier.

    That’s not to say that the S90 lacks character. It’s been given its own distinct persona aptly referred to as ‘relaxed confidence’ by the carmaker. There’s nothing about the S90 that shouts out loud and yet it's unmistakably a Volvo.

    The S90’s nose has a fresh interpretation of Volvo’s trademark concave grille and 'Iron Mark' logo. The LED headlights too have the signature ‘Thor’s Hammer’ design. The strong shoulder lines, sculpted bonnet and tightly skinned surfaces give the sedan a restrained but robust appearance, and it stands out as a car that looks carved from one big block of metal. 

    Look at the S90 from the rear and your eyes are immediately drawn to the unique bracket-shaped tail-lights which sharply extend into the boot lid. At night they look brilliant and make the S90 easily identifiable. 

    What’s it like from the inside?

    The cabin is very similar to the XC90’s, which means it’s clean, uncluttered and built with a fine mix of high-quality leather, real wood and some exquisite detailing. Some plastics, however, don’t live up to the high standards of the cabin, and the twist-to-start button which has a finely facetedmetallic finish, gets really hot in the sun and can burn your fingers.

    Taking pride of place on the dashboard is the portrait-oriented, high-resolution 9-inch infotainment screen which controls most of the car’s functions. However, sifting through the various menus and functions is not blindly intuitive and does take some getting used to.

    What’s good is that the vertical LCD screen is well suited for following the navigation maps and allows larger fonts to be used.

    Like in most Volvos, the S90’s seats set the standard for comfort with the front pair offering the feeling of sitting in thrones fit for a king with a long seat base and generous cushioning all round. What’s missing though is electric adjustment for the steering wheel position; it has to be done manually, even in the highest-spec Inscription variant.

    Most S90 owners will be chauffeur-driven, and the fantastic amount of space in the rear is what will clinch the deal for many. The slim front seats have liberated lots of legroom and six-footers won’t have a problem getting comfy. The seat base is a bit low, but once you’ve crouched down to settle onto the well-padded cushions you won’t have reason to complain. Except if you want to accommodate a third passenger – the wide transmission tunnel makes sitting three abreast impractical for long journeys. The centre space is taken up by a neat-looking console which has touch-sensitive controls for the rear air-con vents.

    Boot space is a handy 500 litres and nicely shaped to accommodate four fairly large suitcases.

    Copyright (c) Autocar India. All rights reserved.


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