Saturday 3 December 2016

Is this the Volvo to put the wind up BMW, Mercedes and Audi?

Sleek, powerful saloon is a comfortable motorway cruiser and packed with technology, writes Philip Hedderman

Published 20/11/2016 | 02:30

SERIOUS CONTENDER: Sumptuous and sexy Volvo S90
SERIOUS CONTENDER: Sumptuous and sexy Volvo S90

Volvo has always been synonymous with safety, but the Scandinavian brand is now quickly becoming a byword for luxury.

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Thanks to the exquisite styling and build quality of the new XC90, it would have been a great shame not to have something equally as eloquent in its flagship model.

So adapting the old "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach, the Swedish boffins have simply used the same blueprint for the interior of the S90 executive saloon - and it is simply stunning.

Replacing the slightly jaded-looking S80, this super-swish carriage is for the first time a serious contender and a very real threat to the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class and the Audi A6.

The sleek flowing lines, Thor Hammer Xenon headlights, sweeping blade-like chrome air intakes and door inlays give it a real premium feel, while the stonking 20-inch alloys give it some serious street cred.

Inside, it's a really sumptuous affair, with wall-to-wall cream Nappa leather, genuine wooden finish and chunky chrome air vents.

Polished aluminium speaker-covers in the doors were simply breathtaking and even the rear-view mirror was a thing of beauty. The clutter-free minimalist cockpit is dominated by Volvo's state-of-the-art infotainment system, which is accessed through a gargantuan tablet-like touchscreen and is home to music, phone, climate control and semi-autonomous tech, such as Pilot Assist, which will practically drive the car for you.

The system works up to speeds of 130kmh and is a combination of active cruise control, lane assist and a host of other driver alerts.

There are two diesel engines to choose from - a 2.0-litre FWD D4 with 190bhp, or a more powerful D5 AWD with 232bhp - both twinned to a sublime 8-speed automatic gearbox (€200 and €270 road tax respectively).

There's two trim levels for Irish customers - Momentum and Inscription - and standard safety kit includes City Safety (with pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection and front collision warning with Full Auto Brake).

Drive-wise, we tested the entry level offering, and while it's not as engaging as the BMW, it is a really comfortable motorway cruiser.

There's oceans of torque from the four-cylinder powerplant, but work the engine too hard and the noise becomes a little intrusive in the cabin (not helped by the larger rims)and the steering could be a bit more informative.

That said, this is the finest executive saloon Volvo has ever made and with prices starting at a most reasonable €43,900, it is sure to put the wind up the German trio who have dominated the segment for the last decade.

Sunday Independent

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