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Volvo S90 Review: 'Dear Germans, the Swedes are coming for you!'

2017-03-03 07:10

Robert Daniels

WHAT A CAR:'Not only is it larger than the competition, it also betters them on standard features as well as fuel consumption and emissions,' writes Robert Daniels. Image: Volvo South Africa

Cape Town - We all love premium German cars and I know this is said often but it’s seriously time that someone warn the Germans about the Swedes. 

With the arrival of its XC90 SUV, Volvo blew established players out of the water. It's officially the new benchmark for seven seat premium SUVs.

Now, Volvo has entered its new S90 in a fiercely-competitive large sedan segment. So I want to be really honest, knowing that the premium D-segment loses customers to large SUVs every single day.

READ: Svelte Swedish S90 - Does Volvo's flagship raise the bar for luxury sedans?

Once you realise Volvo has created premium sedans throughout its history, you sit up and take notice. Volvo knows how to build big cars but the automaker never knew how to make them look really good. The S90 fixes that problem because this latest model looks exquisite! In a darker hue sporting the optional 21" twisted five spoke alloy wheels draped in comically slim low profile rubber, this Volvo S90 looks menacing. When last did a Volvo look menacing? It insists on your undivided attention as it seemingly glides along the road.

In a word it’s breathtaking, while somehow remaining understated. It’s classy, grand, and completely sumptuous. You feel almost presidential, not Jacob Zuma presidential, while driving or being driven around in one. Pick another country’s president please.

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The S90 is low, wide and lenghty but more importantly, it has presence. I would consider this over a Mercedes-Benz S-Class or BMW 7 Series. It not as fast or dynamic as the competition but with the S90, Volvo had no sportively dynamic aspirations. It handles very well, don’t get me wrong but the focus here is obviously on comfort and luxury.

Volvo looked to its customers, mostly Chinese and gave them what they wanted which is opulence and grandeur with a splash of occasion. Experiencing this behemoth certainly is an occasion despite the small, turbocharged petrol and diesel engines. It's only available in four-cylinder, 2.0-litre version in different states of tune so it doesn’t matter if you opt for the D4, D5, T5 or T6. Those are model designations and have nothing to do with engine capacity or cylinder count. The engines produce between 140kW/235kW while torque ranges from 350Nm to 480Nm.

My personal favourite being the D5 turbo diesel producing 173kW/480Nm transmitted to all fours using an eight-speed Automatic transmission, smoothly willing you from one ratio to the next. It’s a graceful affair indeed.

Once the shock of the Hitman-looking Volvo subsides, you step into the realm of opulence and exclusivity, also known as the interior. It certainly is a thing of beauty. The entire dash is focused around a 9" tablet smack in the middle of a luxuriously crafted Swedish lounge.


Everything is covered in leather, wood, posh plastic and dull, but expensive looking metal bits. The Thor’s Hammer headlights and full LED and somewhat awkward looking tail lights make another appearance as per modern Volvos but some new features include a 360 degree camera system to help you avoid those curbs with those enormous wheels.

The 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system is practically religious in it’s performance and quite frankly the Volvo S90 puts its competitors to shame.

Not only is it larger than the competition, it also betters them on standard features as well as fuel consumption and emissions. It uses 5.0-litres of diesel per 100km for goodness sake!

READ: Here's how much the new Volvo S90 costs in SA

As mentioned before, the standard features list is comprehensive and highly rewarding with items such as active bending lights, the 9" In-dash infotainment tablet, as well as a 12" digital display where the instrument cluster use to be. But the Volvo S90 goes even further and offers as standard adaptive cruise control with pilot assist which brakes, accelerates and even steers on your behalf using a plethora of cameras and sensors mounted all round.

Options are more superficial boasting items such as bigger wheels, a sunroof, metallic paint, and automated bootlid, as well as electrically folding rear seats. Air suspension, smartphone integration, as well as keyless entry and start are a few more optional highlights, but you can have it all if you play clever. Buy the most affordable S90, the D4 with the 140kW/400Nm engine for R680 000 and use whatever you saved to get those amazing 21" wheels. It’s the right thing to do.

At R680 000 it also betters them on price and Volvo now sells their own insurance for under R1000 a month with all S90s. Yes a BMW 5 Series handles better around a track and Audi still builds a better interior, if somewhat bland in comparison to the S90, but as a comprehensive package and as a high value deal, the Volvo S90 simply cant be beat.

Read more on:    volvo  |  robert daniels  |  s90  |  new model  |  review  |  sedan



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