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Volvo S90 Hybrid Review

The Volvo S90 Plug-in Hybrid is smooth, quiet and super-economical, but could also quite likely send you to sleep.

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8/10
wowscore
This score is awarded by our team of
expert reviewers
With nearly 60 years of experience between them, carwow’s expert reviewers thoroughly test every car on sale on carwow, and so are perfectly placed to present you the facts and help you make that exciting decision
after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Loads of safety equipment
  • Extremely quiet, especially in electric mode
  • Hugely rapid acceleration

What's not so good

  • Not very exciting, despite the pace
  • Needs to be plugged in whenever it's stopped
  • Boot isn't as big as rivals'

Volvo S90 Hybrid: what would you like to read next?

Is the Volvo S90 Hybrid a good car?

The Volvo S90 Plug-in Hybrid undeniably offers something different, because it’s fully focused on getting you there without a hint of stress.

Sportiness? What’s that? Getting into an S90 and expecting sportiness is like entering a gentleman’s club and asking where the breakdance floor has been set up. Not the done thing, old boy.

Still, if you’re faced with a long motorway journey, few cars are better prepared than the S90 – its seats are hugely comfortable, its ride composed at speed and noise suppression is very good, although just short of Mercedes E-Class levels. The S90 steers and stops with confidence, but the BMW 5 Series and Jaguar XF are still the driver’s choice. If you want a sportier drive, R-Design is the trim to go for. It adds sports suspension and gives the S90 more athletic looks.

The T8 Plug-in Hybrid powertrain marries a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with an electric motor to produce a grand total of 303hp and 400Nm of torque. This makes the S90 PHEV the fastest armchair you’re likely to come across, because it will cover the 0-60nph dash in just 4.8 seconds and will top out at a limited 112mph.

The S90 PHEV stacks up as a company car, because it emits as little as 44g/km of CO2 and can do a maximum of 148.7mpg. It can also cover a maximum of 36 miles on electric power alone, which makes it ideal if you have a short commute through the city.

Absolutely fantastic at covering long distances, and brilliant at short EV commutes, but not one to choose if you love driving.

Mat Watson
carwow expert

In keeping with nearly every Volvo that’s ever left the factory, the S90 is super safe. It pioneers a new automatic braking system that can detect large animals (deer, dinosaurs and the like) on the road. That’ll join a huge list of features seen elsewhere in the firm’s range, including an autonomous driving system that works up to speeds of 80mph.

Volvo’s return to the large-executive class will be a welcome one to anyone looking to buy outside the default options of BMW, Audi and Mercedes. Volvo has stuck to its roots by building a car that will devour huge mileages with ease and although it may not be at its best on twisting country roads, it promises to be altogether more accomplished than its predecessor. It will, we are sure, be as safe as the proverbial houses, but what is likely to excite buyers more is the luxurious interior that oozes quality.

If that sounds like your cup of Filmjölk (it’s a Swedish thing) then head over to our Volvo S90 deals pages for the very best prices.

How practical is it?

There’s loads of space up front, but those in the rear would be better off in a Mercedes E-Class.

Boot (seats up)
461 - 500 litres
Boot (seats down)
-

There’s plenty of space in the S90’s front seats for you to get comfortable – even if you’re very tall – and both front seats come with height adjustment and electric lumbar support as standard. As a result, you get a good view out over other cars and don’t have to worry about backache on long motorway journeys.

All S90s get extra lumbar adjustment and extended seat cushions as standard to give your legs even better support on long drives. These models also get a memory function for the front seat – handy if you regularly lend your car to someone else.

Space in the back is pretty generous in all S90s. The front seats are thinner than in a Mercedes or BMW so your passengers in the back have plenty of legroom to stretch out. There’s just enough headroom for six-footers to get fairly comfy, too.

Carrying three adults side-by-side is a bit of a squeeze – thanks to the tall lump in the floor and hard central seat – but there’s enough space under the front seats for three rear passengers to fit their feet comfortably. That said, an E-Class is better still for carrying three adults in the back.

The S90’s wide rear door openings make it easy to lift in a large child seat and folding covers help you quickly locate the two sets of Isofix points. Unfortunately, the Volvo’s low roofline means you have to stoop down low to strap in a child, but you’ll have a similar issue in almost all large executive saloons.

The Volvo’s cabin comes with plenty of handy storage spaces to help you keep it looking as tidy as possible, All four door bins and the glovebox can comfortably hold a 2.0-litre bottle and there’s some extra storage space under the central armrest for your phone or a pair of sunglasses.

You get two cupholders beside the gear lever under a neat folding cover and two more that pop out of the folding rear armrest. This also comes with a neat storage tray with a lid to keep thing safely in place if you need to fold the armrest away.

The S90 PHEV’s 461-litre boot is slightly smaller than the 500-litre offering from conventionally fuelled S90s but it’s still big enough to carry a baby buggy and some soft bags or a set of golf clubs. The wide opening makes it easier to load than the likes of the E-Class, too, and you get a few tether hooks and a netted cubby to keep smaller items secure.

You can’t adjust the height of the boot floor, however, so there’s a slight lip you’ll have to lift luggage over. It’s no worse than in the BMW, Mercedes or Audi, though, and you do get some neat switches beside the headrests that’ll let you fold the back seats down from inside the car – when the rear doors are open, that is.

With all the back seats folded away, there’s space in the back of the Volvo to carry a bike with both its wheels attached. The flat floor makes it easy to push heavy items right up behind the back seats and the loadbay’s square shape means you won’t have any trouble carrying a large TV box or some bulky flat-pack furniture.

All S90s come with a ski hatch behind the rear armrest so you can carry some very long items and two back-seat passengers at once.

What's it like to drive?

Brilliant on EV power in town, and great at long journeys, but not great if the roads are twisty.

The S90’s T8 Plug-in Hybrid powertrain is a combination of a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and an electric motor, which produce 303hp and 400Nm of torque. This makes the S90 PHEV a bit of a dragster, because it will do the 0-60nph dash in just 4.8 seconds and will top out at a limited 112mph.

The S90 PHEV stacks up as a company car, because it emits as little as 44g/km of CO2 and can do a maximum of 148.7mpg. It can also cover a maximum of 36 miles on electric power alone, which makes it ideal if you have a short commute through the city.

It might be a big car, but you won’t have any trouble seeing out of the Volvo. The relatively thin pillars and large windows give you a good view out, and the light steering helps make it reasonably easy to manoeuvre around town.

If the thought of parking a big saloon car gives you chills, you can get the S90 with a self-parking feature that’ll steer you automatically into parallel and bay parking spaces that are just 1.2 metres longer than the car. This costs a decent amount extra but comes with a 360-degree camera system and a panoramic glass sunroof.

Thankfully, Volvo’s Pilot Assist feature won’t cost you a penny extra. This system combines lane-keeping assist with adaptive cruise control to accelerate, brake and steer for you at speeds up to 80mph – providing you keep your hands on the steering wheel. This helps make long journeys – especially on busy motorways – as relaxing as possible.

Adding to the S90’s stress-free driving experience is the comfortable suspension. It can get a little bumpy over the worst stretches of road in town, but at speed on the motorway, the S90 wafts along beautifully. R Design models get lower, stiffer sports suspension, which seems wrong in a car like this.

Sadly, while the Volvo does a great job isolating you from the patchy road surfaces, it doesn’t feel particularly fun to drive. Sure, it doesn’t lean much in tight corners, but a BMW 5 Series and Jaguar XF both feel more involving on a twisty backroad.

If safety, rather than sportiness, is your main concern, the Volvo claws back plenty of points. It comes as standard with a wealth of active systems designed to prevent crashes including pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection, automatic emergency braking and even a feature that’ll tighten your seatbelt if the car detects a possible collision.

All these features helped the S90 achieve an impressive five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP when it was tested in 2017.

What's it like inside?

Incredible comfort and safety (there are luxury hotels that are less comfortable), but the infotainment can be slow

Next Read full interior review
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RRP £56,025 - £56,875 Avg. carwow saving £5,564 off RRP
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