S90 T8 Twin Engine R-Design Pro AWD
the moment Volvos
blitzkrieg began with its impressive
XC90 SUV, the Big Question for
upmarket buyers was: Would you
buy a Volvo instead of a BMW
TODAY THAT QUESTION is moot the Swedish marque is now every bit
as covetable as its Teutonic rivals; and not just its competent and classy SUVs
and svelte all-wheel drive estate cars, but its swish saloons too.
Long, low, wide, and marked out by a confident stance that's fronted by an imposing
nose: the S90's upright gloss black mesh grille is bracketed by eye-catching
'Thor's hammer' LED headlights and capped by a long bonnet. Clean flanks stretch
back over circular wheelarches, tightly packed out with five-arm twenty-inch
alloys, to broad shoulders that run fluently into a contrastingly angular rear-end
framed by distinctive tail lights; underscoring and adding to the compellingly
sleek look is the complete absence of bling. The S90, especially in sporty R-Design
spec, oozes kerb appeal.
the unique Swedish take on style and luxury is what sets the Volvo satisfyingly
apart from the German competition. There's no denying that the corresponding
models from BMW (5 Series), Mercedes-Benz (E-Class) and Audi (A6) offer premium
cabins, but this Volvo does 'richly-upholstered' in its own inimitable way
tastefully integrating minimalist architecture with upscale design.
Swedish take on style
and luxury is what sets
the Volvo satisfyingly
apart from the German
competition. Theres no
denying that the
from BMW, Mercedes and
Audi offer premium
cabins, but this Volvo
in its own inimitable way
with upscale design...
Volvo seats are without doubt some of the very best you can get. The S90 R-Design's
sports seats are no exception. Power adjustable, beautifully trimmed in soft
perforated Nappa leather and Nubuck and contoured for maximum support, they
offer all the comfort you could wish for so you can sit back and
travel in maximum comfort for hours on end.
Of course there's heating on both front chairs as well as a heated and perforated
leather steering wheel rim (it looks swell and it's great to use), all of it
three-stage. Every occupant enjoys plenty of space for their feet and legs,
elbows, shoulders and heads. Extending seat base cushions provide enhanced under-knee
comfort, while multi-directional powered lumbar support is a boon for bad backs.
Needless to say, you'll find the driving position to be first class. Ahead of
the driver sits a 12.3-inch TFT customisable instrument and information display
panel with crystal clear digitised dials which can be left full-size or shrunk
to show more of the navigational mapping and driver's info between them.
Even if you've come across one before, the S90's nine-inch portrait-format tablet-style
centre console touchscreen is still an attention-grabber. Sited sensibly high
up in the centre of the meticulously trimmed fascia, and flanked by stylish
vertical silver 'air blade' vents with knurled metal finish rotary control knobs,
it lets you control pretty much all of the S90's major functions by fingertip:
tapping plus pinch and zoom and swiping, even when wearing gloves.
to deliver a safer eyes-on-the-road driving environment is Volvo's sophisticated
voice-activated system: it understands 300+ naturally spoken instructions that
work everything from the SatNav and climate control to the phone and media.
Complementing that is the highly visible head-up display that projects your
current road speed, posted speed limit and navigation instructions dead ahead
onto the windscreen.
minimal amount of core switchgear is arranged on the central console between
the front seats. That's where you'll find the illuminated crystal selector lever
for the transmission, start/stop twist-switch, electric parking brake (with
traffic-friendly auto-hold), and the tactile 'bark'-finish Drive Mode thumbwheel
driving programs are: Constant AWD (all-wheel drive); Pure (electric-only
eco driving); Hybrid (everyday use); Individual (mix and match your own driving
preferences); and Polestar Engineered (max power).
On Call app for
your smartphone can
guide you via a map back
to the exact spot where
you left your S90 (what
do you mean, youve
never lost your car at
Heathrow?). It also lets
you send a destination
directly to the navigation
system so its primed to
go the moment you get
behind the wheel, and
will even start the engine
to pre-heat or pre-cool
the cabin before you
S90's Sensus infotainment system is totally up-to-speed with the latest satellite
navigation and web connectivity tech including a standalone Spotify app that
does away with the need to use a smartphone altogether for music streaming,
plus a WiFi hotspot for your passengers to use. A wide range of web apps are
available from TuneIn (100,000+ Internet radio stations around the world) and
Record & Send that lets you record voice messages and email them out. Android
Auto and Apple CarPlay guarantee foolproof smartphone integration for those
who want it.
You also get Volvo On Call with an app for your smartphone (or smartwatch or
tablet) that, amongst other things, will guide you via a map back to the exact
spot where you left your S90 (what do you mean, you've never 'lost' your car
at Heathrow?). It also lets you remotely check the doors are locked and windows
closed, see how much fuel/charge is remaining, flash the lights as you get close,
send a destination directly to the Sensus navigation system so it's primed to
go the moment you get behind the wheel, and will even start the engine to pre-heat
or pre-cool the cabin before you climb aboard. It also provides an emergency
and breakdown support system, calling the emergency services if an airbag or
seatbelt pre-tensioner is triggered during an accident or connecting you directly
to a Volvo On Call operator to arrange roadside assistance.
As consumers demand more of everything, including interior space, some carmakers
have been scrimping on in-cabin storage Volvo, you'll be pleased
to hear, is not one of them. The S90 provides a home for all your 'pocket lint'
with sizeable doors bins that will easily hold a large bottle of Evian along
with a number of well-sited cubbies where you can stash everything from keys
you get a very respectable 330W, 10-speaker sound system along with a DAB tuner
and Bluetooth handsfree connectivity. However, if music for you is truly 'the
food of love' then you can sound-off to the max by ticking the box for the optional
1,400-watt, 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins premium HiFi. Given the excellent cabin
isolation from the outside world, the S90 is the perfect place to indulge in
your own personal music festival.
S90 models come as standard with just about everything you might want but the
sportier R-Design Pro is particularly well loaded and brings, in addition to
all the equipment mentioned throughout this review, the likes of keyless access
(on all four doors), keyless Start, multicolour theatre lighting, head-up display,
road sign information, dual-zone climate control with a CleanZone air quality
system and pollen filter, powerfolding heated door mirrors, front and rear parking
sensors, a handsfree powered bootlid, powerfolding rear backrests and headrests,
one-shot-op laminated windows, electric front seats with memory function, ally
sports pedal set, active bending headlights, 20-inch alloy wheels and, for those
who enjoy chauffeur-style travel, Volvo's Pilot Assist.
those who enjoy
Volvos Pilot Assist
a semi-autonomous drive
system optimised for
motorways and dual-
care of steering inputs
up to 80mph and keeps
the S90 within lane
maintaining your desired
all while braking and
accelerating with the
flow of traffic...
semi-autonomous drive system, optimised for motorways and dual-carriageways,
takes care of steering inputs up to 80mph as is necessary to keep the car within
lane markings and, partnered with adaptive cruise control it maintains your
desired cruising speed (or set distance from the vehicle in front) all while
braking and accelerating with the flow of traffic. Operated simply from the
steering wheel, it's close enough to being an 'auto pilot' (until fully-fleged
self-driving cars arrive) to totally de-stress long-distance road trips.
Volvos are considered to be the safest cars around and the S90's reassuring
safety 'assists' include City Safety (this can sense potential collisions with
pedestrians, cyclists and even large animals even in the dark
and will brake for you if you don't), Oncoming Lane Mitigation
(automatically provides steering assistance to guide you back out of the path
of any oncoming traffic should you drift out of your lane), Lane-Keep Assist,
Blind Spot Monitoring, Cross-Traffic Alert, and Run-off Road Mitigation.
The S90 will also auto brake for you at junctions if you have accidentally turned
in front of an oncoming vehicle, and takes care of switching between main and
dip beam to ensure other road users aren't dazzled while affording you the best
visibility at night. And don't forget that there's four-wheel drive to maximise
control and keep you moving safely in seriously tricksy conditions.
passengers expecting their own personal 'salon' aren't short-changed
the S90's rear cabin looks and feels sumptuous, and the liberal legroom is enhanced
by decent head and elbow room. It more than meets its brief to provide plush,
über-comfortable first-class travel you absolutely won't hear
a murmur of complaint. Those riding in the back are further cosseted with their
own ventilation, a wide and comfy central armrest (with two trays, one of which
is lidded, and the best type of expanding pop-out cupholders), rear window sun
blinds (integrated into the doors), large netted magazine pouches, dark tinted
rear glass, and heated seats.
models employ a lower and stiffer suspension set-up for a sportier feel but
don't let that put you off because the S90 T8 rides the tarmac with aplomb;
noticeably compliant in town, it glides over 'sleeping policemen' without jolting
or jiggling your passengers while smoothly ironing out humpty-dumpty blacktop.
Added to the agreeable ride quality, the well insulated and very refined cabin
ambiance and the hushed electric power, it makes usually tiresome motorway marathons
in this big saloon something to be enjoyed.
anything from our hard
of 44.7mpg to the
It all depends on how
disciplined you are about
plugging-in to maximise
the electric motors
battery pack and the
distances you need to
cover. If you are able
to limit your trips
to around 25 miles before
recharging you could
easily see 100mpg+...
for a moment, the hybrid set-up powering the accurately named T8 'Twin Engine'
(petrol-electric hybrid); in fact you don't even need to know how much power
it produces but for those who do, it's 298bhp from a 2.0-litre
turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine driving the front wheels plus another
85bhp from the electric motor driving the rear wheels along with the combustion
engine's 295lb ft of torque plus 177lb ft from the electric motor. For good
measure, our test S90 had the Polestar optimisation pack that boosts the petrol
side of the twin-engine 'team' to 312bhp.
Now we've mentioned the power and torque we may as well give you the rest: emissions
are genuinely green at just 49g/km, top speed is 155mph, and 0-62mph acceleration
takes 5.1 seconds. Far more important than any of these numbers is the physical
experience you enjoy whenever you lean on the accelerator pace
is potent right from take-off, even if you're not being brutal with the pedal,
the eight-speed autobox making great use of the stump-pulling torque from very
regularly review electric cars so are somewhat inured to the instant-hit of
torque electric motors deliver, but this T8's thrillingly-responsive electric
power still brings on a big smile as it whooshes forwards, pressing you back
in your seat. So when you need to dart past slower traffic you can, secure in
the knowledge that there's all the performance you'll need to get past safely.
Economy can be anything from our hard week's driving average of 44.7mpg to the
officially-quoted 'best' of 128.4mpg. It all depends on how disciplined you
are about plugging-in to maximise the battery pack, and the distances you need
to cover. If you are able to limit your trips to around 25 miles before each
recharge you could easily see 100mpg+. While
you can charge the battery pack while driving (using the Twin Engine's Charge
and Hold settings) you'll burn more petrol doing so although if you've already
used up your battery power and are en route to an emissions-free zone then it's
a convenient way to reset your zero-emissions range without pit-stopping for
there's another incentive to stay topped-up in pure electric mode the
performance is addictive; seamlessly fast and stunningly silent, it strongly
underlines the S90's inherent upscale refinement. That said, in thee normal-running
hybrid mode it's a supreme mile-eater and the powertrain's switching between
electric and petrol is pretty much undetectable.
suspension makes for a
stable and satisfyingly
controlled drive; it steers
true, grips keenly and for
a big, luxurious car the
S90 is easy to drive and
easier to place than
you might expect.
Should you have cause
to cane it, this well-
mannered Twin Engine
saloon will happily
More good news you won't need to stop for refuelling that often:
with a full tank and a full battery the T8's driving range is around 500 miles.
When you do need to juice up the battery pack, plug-in charge-ups take 2.5 hours
from empty to full using a 16kW fast charger. Even done at home using a relatively
slow 240v 3-pin plug only takes an extra hour.
The R-Design's sports suspension (lowered by 15mm) makes for a stable and satisfyingly
controlled drive; the S90 steers true, grips keenly and you can feel it working
for you especially when you apply power in the apex of a bend. The regenerative
brakes are also strong (the selector lever offers a 'B' setting for simulated
engine braking and more intense battery-boosting brake energy harvesting) but
they're also well modulated so stop-start use in heavy traffic is hassle-free.
For a big five metres nose to tail and luxurious
car it's easy to drive and easier to place than you might expect. Should you
have cause to cane it, this well-mannered Twin Engine S90 saloon will happily
play along; Yes, ride and comfort do just edge out sporting prowess, but it's
a performance accommodation that you'll willingly accept.
At 500 litres the S90's boot offers all the luggage space necessary for four
adults. Loading, thanks to the wide opening, is straightforward. There's even
some extra space under the floor as well as a handy ski-hatch. Press the switch
to drop the 60:40-split rear seatbacks and the versatility increases with a
flat and seamless floor that lets you to carry items up to 197cm long. Should
you need to tow, the T8 will haul a braked 2,100kg without raising a sweat (helpfully,
a retractable towbar is on the options list). Pro versions have another trick
up their sleeve a handsfree feature for the fast-acting powered
bootlid; if your arms are full, simply waving a foot under the back bumper opens
(and closes) the bootlid.
Splendidly relaxing to drive, this hybrid T8 is a Very Good Thing indeed for
our stress-fuelled roads. It's also exceedingly comfortable and refined and
a pleasure to drive and ride in and has what it takes to go grille-to-grille
with its Teutonic rivals. While the S90 range kicks off from £34K, even £57K
for a top-tier T8 Twin Engine R-Design Pro will not stand in the way of Germanophile
buyers turning Scandi. ~ MotorBar
Volvo S90 T8 Twin Engine R-Design Pro AWD
Maximum speed: 155mph | 0-62mph: 5.1 seconds | Test Average: 44.7mpg
Power: 398bhp | Torque: 472lb ft | CO2: 49/km