In the UK, the classic Volvo estate was once a stalwart of countryside antiques emporiums whilst doubling as transport for Labrador dogs. Times change and now Volvo has changed with them courtesy of the latest V90. Designed to take on the premium German brands at their own prestige game, the big Volvo V90 has a subtle yet distinctive Swedish aesthetic with an interior that is both tasteful and cosseting.
Volvo V90 Powerpulse
Driving in the dark days of winter, owners will relish the diesel power and four-wheel drive. In our modern downsized world, that power now comes from a four-cylinder 2.0L twin-turbo diesel engine. Available in two power outputs, the 2.0 litre four-pot is best in D5 guise with 235bhp on tap as shown here. This is preferred over the less powerful D4 version thanks to the extra performance.
The featured model is a range-topping Inscription variant with the added virtue of ‘Powerpulse’ technology which is only available on the D5. Basically, it is a system that pumps air into the exhaust manifold as the driver accelerates. This means the first turbocharger is pushed into spinning up earlier than it would have been, with the result that turbo lag is virtually abolished. The effect is very pleasing and very effective.
Volvo V90 On The Road
The V90 D5 has plenty of power and low-down shove thanks to 480Nm of torque. It’s not a car that encourages haste, however. Driving fast on country roads a driver will feel the weight of this car shifting about. A hot hatch it is not. Volvo has deliberately built a relaxed, mile-munching cruiser that is as smooth as the cream in your coffee. Simply engage Drive, leave it there and glide in immense comfort.
There are no flappy paddles to encourage recklessness. Instead the business of gear-shifting is left to the eight-speed automatic transmission and very smooth it is too, finding the right gear at the right time. Drivers can shift sequentially with the gear lever if they must, but it seems to me to be a pointlessly exhausting exercise.
The Volvo V90 drive can be set in any one of three modes. ‘Eco’, which, as the name suggests, calms everything down by reducing power and cutting back on creature comforts like air-conditioning to save on fuel and emissions. ‘Normal’ is the mode for everyday driving and is the preferred option and then there’s ‘Dynamic’ which stiffens the ride and opens up all the taps. In this guise the diesel engine gets a bit growly but the mode is handy when there’s a need to crack on a bit.
Our test car was fitted with a 360° Surround View parking camera plus auto Park Assist. It’s a Volvo so, for safety’s sake, the V90 is loaded with every safety feature known to mankind. There’s a full specification list for this very car below.
Luxury Cabin, Swedish Cool
The cabin is just about as relaxed as it gets in a premium car. It is superb. No high switch-count here, most of the infotainment and navigation is dealt with via a 9” Sensus Connect portrait-orientation touchscreen. It’s easy to use, intuitive and looks great although the obvious danger of driving while flicking through menus needs consideration. It is all too easy to become involved. Set it up before setting off.
No dark Swedish noire here, this car offers a cool Scandi-style motor with blonde woods and more than enough pale Nappa leather to satisfy the most demanding of customers. It does make you wonder about the long-term future of the cow. The powered seats are superb and the boot will please people who collect grandfather clocks or spend a lot of time at the DIY store.
Tech-heads will love that the V90 is totally connected, featuring as it does Apple CarPlay, voice control and standalone Spotify, as well as Volvo’s On Call service, which allows you to control various functions (like locking and pre-heating) through a smartphone app.
The suite of safety equipment is too long to itemise here but as it is a Volvo you just know they have all the bases covered. Their claim that ‘nobody will die in a Volvo by 2020’ seems to be coming to fruition very quickly.
The Volvo V90 D5 AWD Powerpulse Inscription as photographed here is, quite simply, superb. Beats the Germans at their own game. Geoff Maxted