Volvo’s S90 saloon is the brand’s follow up to the XC90, an SUV that inspires great interiors, technology, and safety.This saloon is an entirely new car that’s based on the same scalable platform architecture (SPA) which is seen beneath the XC90 and will compete against segment contenders like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series. Though it felt right to launch the XC90 at a time when SUV sales are on a high, challenging established brands for a contention in the large luxury saloon space takes a lot of courage and determination.
We drove the Volvo S90 in Jodhpur to find out how much of a ripple it will cause in its segment and here’s the gist.
Volvo has lent the S90 with an elegant design, and taking pride of place is the 23 vertical slat chrome grille along with the familiar ‘Thor’s hammer’ head lamps at the tip of the long bonnet. There’s lots of chrome inserts on the air dams that blend with the air intakes and truly highlight the premium nature of the S90.
Check out this saloon in profile and you will get the vibes of the Jaguar XJ with the swooping, almost coupe-like design cues which also tends to make it look longer than it actually is. That said, the edgy design lines around the boot section along with the wrap-around LED tail lamp styling may not seem attractive to everybody. Overall, we can rightfully state that this saloon has a unique signature which is unlike anything else on the road and hence stands out.
This Swedish brand’s refreshing design flair stands out and immediately feels special thanks to the simplistic design lines, dashboard that’s draped in leather, highlights from the bare walnut wood trim, silver accents and light beige leather used all across. A huge vertically positioned screen takes up a huge large portion of the centre console allowing access to most functions including the air-conditioner and tends to get the driver’s eyes off the road. That said, the huge door mirrors block the view around the A-pillar while driving.
Volvo has always taken inputs from orthopaedic surgeons for crafting their seats and these are no different. In the front, one will immediately feel comforted by the brilliant contours sculpted into the design and the great cushioning. In addition to the regular adjustments, these cooled seats can also electrically adjust the lumbar, lateral and thigh support requirements for both front seats. Rear seat passengers, on the other hand, can set individual cabin temperatures and fan speeds (four-zone climate control) through the touch screen situated above the rear vents.
The rear section has a tremendous amount of legroom factored in and the seat contours make this an extremely comfy place to be in. We also noticed two child seats that are smartly incorporated into the rear bench. However, the rear seat squab is a bit small, and this along with the low set seat translates into a short supply of thigh support. That said, the middle passenger will have to deal with a protruding arm rest and a tall transmission tunnel. Volvo has designed the boot to swallow up to 500litres of luggage space and the low stature of the car makes it easy to load the boot.
Volvo will offer the S90 in the Inscription variant and it will have features like Nappa leather upholstery, cooled and heated front seats, walnut wood trim and an electric tailgate. There’s also the lane keeping aid, park assist pilot, hill start assist, heads-up display, LED head lamps, airbags, Bowers and Wilkins music system with subwoofer, and the long list of safety features which is expected of a Volvo car.
Volvo is offering Indian buyers the D4 Inscription which comes equipped with a 2.0-litre diesel motor that’s capable of pumping out 190bhp and 400Nm to the front wheels and is coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Twist the ignition and one will notice a fair amount of diesel clatter, and even though superior cabin insulation keeps the external noises at bay, one can still hear the engine pretty clearly. Off the mark, this engine picks up pace in an unhurried linear manner after 1500rpm, post which there is a strong surge between 2000rpm and 4000rpm.
There are three preset drive modes that change gearbox shifting patterns which in turn influence the response from the engine, and are called Eco, Comfort and Dynamic. As the name suggests, Eco is meant for the best possible efficiency and relaxed driving, Comfort for easy driving, and Dynamic makes way for some spirited driving experiences. As soon as you back off the accelerator pedal in Eco and Comfort mode, gears upshift and the revs drop, but in ‘Eco’ the motor coasts in the highest possible gear to enable best efficiency.
In Eco and Comfort mode, part throttle inputs gets the system to use the same gear to gain velocity until it senses more pedal input, which is when the downshift is actuated. But the shifts are slower when compared to the Dynamic mode, where, as soon as the pedal input is fed, a lower gear is selected instantly and elevates the pace further. Nudge the button at the end of the accelerator pedal travel and the revs will climb all the way to 4500rpm. Even though the responses are good in Dynamic mode, it is not aggressive in its approach which makes for a very relaxed experience.
These modes also have preset adjustments for steering response and damping characteristics. Armed with an air suspension at the rear and a regular setup in the front, one can hear the suspension going about its job when the roads gets worse, and the occasional thud can be heard in the cabin without any body movement. In Comfort mode the ride is cushy at low speeds, however, as speeds rise it can get a bit wallowy. So if one needs to do higher speeds, sticking to Dynamic mode would be preferable as the ride is much more flat.
With a steering that’s decently quick off the centre, the S90 feels light in Eco and Comfort modes which eases driving in the city. That said, Dynamic mode is best suited for sporty driving as the steering weighs up a bit more and makes better use of the driver’s inputs to keep the car in control. Surprisingly, we didn’t find the S90 to roll a lot and this car should be great for covering long distances in solid comfort. We feel Volvo has got it spot on with the brakes as the braking is brilliantly progressive with superb feedback that makes for a reassuring drive.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||190|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||400|
|Gears||Eight speed automatic|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||55|
|Tyre size||245/45 R18|
|Bowers and Wilkins high end music player with subwoofer||Yes|
|Four zone climate control||Yes|
|Electric boot lid||Yes|
|Lane keeping aid||Yes|
|Electric front seats||Yes|
|Park Assist Pilot||Yes|
|Nappa leather upholstery with walnut wood trim||Yes|
|Ventilated front seats||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||190||190|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||400||400|
|Gears||Eight speed automatic||Eight speed automatic|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||55||65|
|Tyre size||245/45 R18||245/45 R18|
After spending some quality time with the S90 there is one aspect that shines purposefully through. This car will primarily suit backseat babus as this package offers great comfort, supreme build quality, and lots of feel good factorselements. It serves up a diverse sense of style and appeal, and will suit suffice those on the lookout for something that’s safe, not too exciting to drive but has a lavishly appointed cabin with the addition of being a little different from the regulars. We now understand the essence of what this Swedish brand had in mind when crafting the S90. A great effort indeed.
Pictures: Ameya Dandekar