The Guy Test: Volvo S90

The year 2016 can be safely called the time of Volvo. The Swedish concern consistently refreshes the image of its cars, introducing new variants of the 90 series. Built on completely new floor plates, the 90 models build a strong bridgehead of the brand in the premium sector. The first to hit the streets was the massive XC90 SUV, featuring a conservative body with sophisticated details. Then came the S90, the limousine. And this premiere caused quite a stir in the automotive world. We had a chance to check the car on the road and see if the driving experience matches the visual one.

Modern, predatory lines

Looking at what the previous S90 model, which ended production in 1998, looked like, it’s safe to say that Volvo has come a very long way, done its homework and created a car that is unique. The new Volvo S90 is an abandonment of conservative styling. The body line is no longer reminiscent of a classic, sexless limousine, but rather of a muscle car. It is all thanks to the extended bonnet and the curved, forward-facing grille.

This, together with the modern T-shaped headlights, makes the car stand out on the street in the midst of its sexless and slightly slanted peers. Also the rear of the car distinguishes the S90. You can see the predacity and elegance in this car. It is a rare art to combine these two elements so successfully.

Comfort and luxury

There’s no denying that the new Volvo S90 is designed with driving comfort in mind. The dashboard and central console for controlling the vehicle’s systems face the driver’s seat. Its centrepiece is a 9-inch tablet that almost completely replaces physical buttons. It is used to control practically all elements in the car – from seat adjustment, folding of headrests to navigation.

The interior combines elegance with modernity. Thanks to the possibility of adjusting individual elements to your own taste you can create a truly unique place. In the models tested by us we encountered beautifully stylized wood or aluminum and chrome, appealing to lovers of modernity. There is little plastic here, dominated by natural leather, metal, crystal and wood. This delights, but does not overwhelm. It is elegant, neat and stylish.

The car is also very comfortable. Seats adjustable in all planes adjust to any body shape. It is possible to buy a massage package. The rear seat also offers considerable comfort. Even with the front seat pushed back a lot, there is still room for comfortable positioning of legs. The rear windows can be fitted with blinds, which is especially useful when traveling with children.

The leather padded steering wheel is surprisingly small, but fits perfectly in your hands. Of course, you can adjust it to best suit your driving needs. It includes all the necessary switches to control the cruise control, power steering and radio. It is simple and clear.

The sound system deserves two separate words. Provided by Bowers & Wilkins, the solution makes your heart beat faster with any music. The ability to set the mapping of conditions prevailing in a concert hall brings the acoustic experience to a higher level. Suffice it to say that there are 19 speakers in this car, and each has been designed for a specific placement in your Volvo S90. There’s no room for standardisation – this is an experience you won’t soon forget.

Let’s hit the road

During testing we had the opportunity to drive models equipped with T6 and D4 engines. The former is a 320-horsepower petrol unit with four-wheel drive and automatic transmission. The power of the car can be felt at every step. Whether starting off in city traffic, overtaking on narrow roads, or driving fast on a freeway or expressway, you’re never short of power.

The car is very quiet, although you will hear a pleasant roar when you push the accelerator to the floor. When driving on the highway, the new Volvo S90 shows consumption at the level of 7 liters per 100 kilometers. With the weight of the car, this is a really impressive result. We also checked how the car performs during the need for sudden acceleration at high speed. There is a split-second delay here, and then the car slams the occupants into their seats and flies forward.

Interestingly, even at 180 km/h it maintains around 3000 rpm. This is the effect of using an 8-speed gearbox. This has a positive effect on the available power at any speed, and of course on fuel consumption. During the more than 200 km route we did not manage to exceed the average of 7 liters per 100 km.

The model with the 190-horsepower D4 engine also had no reason to be ashamed. In the range of permissible speeds on city, suburban and express roads, it performed excellently, always offering an adequate reserve of power to perform the maneuver. At the same time, with such a well-silenced interior, you hardly feel any difference between driving a car with a gasoline or diesel engine. Here the choice really depends on your preferences, because the capabilities of the vehicle in both versions are very similar.

The car also copes well with bumps. Pushing through holes in the side roads does not cause discomfort. The suspension softens bumps and improves the safety and comfort of the ride. You have to drive into really huge potholes to feel their impact on the driving dynamics.

Top-class safety

Volvo has always been at the forefront of road safety. And it’s no different with Volvo S90featuring state-of-the-art safety systems, including the world’s first large-animal detection system. The car detects animals and other large objects that may intrude in front of your bonnet and reacts accordingly. First, the system warns the driver of a possible collision, and if the driver does nothing, the car automatically brakes to avoid a collision.

And it really works. While driving on local roads we were forced to take precedence. The car reacted at least a second earlier than the driver, braking to a safe speed.

Uncompromising safety is also evident when driving. In the bonnet, radar and sensors detect the distance to the vehicle in front and display a warning on the windscreen if there is insufficient space between your Volvo S90 and the car in front. The distance preferred by the system is really large and is unlikely to appeal to bumper-to-bumper driving enthusiasts. The car also reads road signs and recognizes the terrain around you, displaying appropriate messages on the windshield and clearly indicating when you are speeding.

There are moments when the system happens to give incorrect data, for example when it registers a 50 km/h limit sign located on a freeway or expressway exit. However, this is a minor inconvenience and a reminder that it is worth thinking for yourself.

Coming back in style

The detection of road and lane edge lines is a fantastic feature. With a car width of 1.89 meters (2.02 meters with mirrors), this is a very useful feature. When changing lanes without the turn signal on, the system gently nudges the steering wheel to prevent you from accidentally leaving your lane. Of course, this is not a complete block and the maneuver is doable, but requires conscious action by the driver. This feature is also followed by Pilot Assist. It allows the Volvo S90 to move in semi-autonomous mode. This means it automatically keeps itself in the highway lane, negotiates curves and adjusts its speed to the road conditions.

The electronics won’t let you take your hands off the wheel, displaying an appropriate warning. However, this is a step on the road to autonomous vehicles. Let’s add that it’s extremely successful, because driving on the highway has never been so smooth. A nice addition are also displays on the mirrors, warning that another vehicle will be in the so-called blind spot.

Volvo S90 is back in style. We received closed in a beautiful body, refined, dynamic, safe and luxurious car that can change a lot in the sector of premium cars.

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