The Volvo S90 is very comfortable, impressively quiet and super relaxing to drive, but you can’t get it with any smooth six-cylinder engines…
Unlike most large executive cars, you don’t get a plethora of four, six and even eight-cylinder engines to choose from in the Volvo. All S90s come with 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engines.
If you do a mix of town and motorway driving, the D4 is your best bet. It’s punchy enough to overtake slow-moving traffic (it’ll accelerate from 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds), reasonably quiet at speed and returns a claimed 61mpg – although you’re more likely to achieve around 44mpg in real-world conditions.
There’s also a D5 model with 235hp that comes with four-wheel drive as standard but it’s more expensive to buy and costs more to run than the D4.
If you fancy a petrol model, there’s a T4 with exactly the same 190hp as the D4, but it’s slightly slower to reach 62mph from rest than the diesel and only returns a claimed 42mpg. It’s still worth considering if you do lots of city driving, however.
The S90 comes packed with loads of safety kit, including Volvo’s Pilot Assist feature that’ll let it pretty much drive itself – on motorways at least
If it’s a sporty saloon you’re after, you should consider the T5 models. It comes with 250hp and will sprint from 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds but it never feels that fast. It needs a bit of revs to get going as well, which is the result of it only being a 2.0-litre, but it’s a similar story in alternatives with equivalent engines. Ultimately, the T5 feels a bit out of place – you’re better off with one of the diesels.
Whichever model you pick, your S90 gets an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard. It changes gear nice and smoothly, especially at slow speeds, but doesn’t respond particularly quickly when you put your foot down. As a result, the Volvo doesn’t feel quite as rapid as the likes of a comparable 5 Series or E-Class.
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 an extra £1,600 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. You can get it with adaptive dampers and rear air suspension but the standard setup does such a good job ironing out bumps and potholes that you needn’t bother.
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.