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New Volvo S90 Review – Whacks Ze Germans

The new Volvo S90, the finest Scandinavian sedan yet, has just made it to the top of our to-own list. Here’s why.

I can’t afford a luxury car right now, but when I do, I’d want something that can offer a unique feeling while just being inside it, less faux appliqués and more natural touches, filled to the brim with technologies and features, unmatchable music system, enough power to have thrilling weekends, and the best equipment in terms of safety. Almost as importantly, I’d want my car to be one of its kind in my street (nothing similar to what my neighbours have). Also, I’m very bored with black and beige interiors, so I’d look for something that’s more bright and inviting.

I think that just describes the Volvo S90!

The flagship Swedish sedan, Volvo S90 premiered at the 2016 NAIAS in January, is no longer an understated majesty. The new design philosophy has made the sedan explicitly daunting, especially when its face is all over your rear view mirror. The Thor’s Hammer headlights and DRLs manage to pull focus from the chrome detailing on the front fascia, hence the overall appeal remains utterly masculine and not too cheesy.

The floating effect of the front grille’s vertical slats is not something one would notice easily, but it contributes significantly to the sophisticated look; not to mention the concave shape of the same. This concave fin structure has been inspired by the iconic Volvo P1800ES, and it is unbelievable how the same grille remains to be the centre of attraction of both the cars which are separated by almost half a century.

The width to height ratio of the car is clearly conveyed through the design characteristics and it helps in adding to the luxury quotient of the saloon. The shoulder line of the S90 that runs from the front wheel arch to the rear wheel arch, is inspired by that of a luxury yacht. The C pillar is wide and gently raked, providing a sense of extra headroom for the passengers. The rear fascia also appears very wide in proportion, influenced further by a lot of horizontal character lines, and bracket-style tail lamps. The twin parallelogram exhaust ends are tucked neatly into the bumper, with a chrome line visually connecting the two. Everything about the Volvo S90’s exteriors shout executive yet extra bold, including the 10-spoke 18 inch alloy wheels.

A major factor that influences the grand and gallant appeal of the new Volvo S90 is the high dash to axle ratio (longer than usual distance between the dashboard and the front wheels) that is typically witnessed in ultra high-end luxury cars on the dearer side of the 1 crore price mark. This denotes a healthy weight distribution and a larger Day Light Opening in the car, as the front wheels are pushed forward from the cabin.

Overall, the exterior of the new Volvo S90 is barely different from the Volvo Concept Coupe that was unveiled at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, except for the roofline and a few styling features that have been brushed up to belong to a sedan instead of a Coupe. The end result is pretty holistic.

The interior of the Volvo S90 is something to be visited and cherished whether you could/would buy the car or not. I cannot say that nothing in its segment comes close to this, but I can definitely claim that it is one of the most refreshing cabins in its price range and closely beyond.

The real Walnut wood decor on the dashboard and door panels is an emotional addition, which is augmented by the natural feel one gets upon touching or brushing his fingers over them. The chrome decor that runs across the dash is a single piece mould, highlighting the care Volvo takes to offer that marginally extra level of finish that could’ve been overlooked. There are more such carefully crafted finishes in the Volvo S90’s environment, including the diamond-like knobs on AC vents and for drive mode selector.

The centre console is among the most refreshing changes you would experience on the Volvo, courtesy of the vertically oriented 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system which is also the interface to the plethora of features hidden in the car. The 12.3-inch landscape screen in place of the instrument cluster is very lively in displaying the realtime readings. There is also a Head-Up Display projection on the windshield in front of the driver that shows the vehicle speed.

Typically during media test drives we cunningly look for opportunities to spend every extra minute driving the car, but with the Volvo S90, for the first time, we parked it in front of a historic place (not bothering to visit that site), pulled and reclined the seats backwards, played some soothing songs on the 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system, and took a half an hour nap switching the phones to silent mode. That experience was out of the world! Thanks to the magically comforting seats, more than the music system.

The same comfort level is carried on during a ride thanks to the air suspension at the rear corners which is offered as standard on the S90. This arrangement noticeably controls the diagonal roll of the car, and imparts a relaxed confidence to the passengers and a planted feel to the driver.

The added stability comes from the highly grippy Pirelli P Zero 245/45-ZR18 tyres at all quarters of the car. As usual, these tyres are made specifically for Volvo, denoted by the VO marking on the tyres next to the tyre code. The difference between the VO tyres and the standard Pirelli P Zero ones is the extra spoon of engineering for lower NVH levels. In simpler terms, the VO tyres cause lower noise while riding on road.

The handling of the Volvo S90 is nothin less than precise with respect to the steering and the suspension behaviour. On driving on rough roads and over steep bumps, we observed that the critical damping seemed almost close to 1, meaning the car doesn’t oscillate or keep bouncing in the vertical axis. The ground clearance of 152 mm didn’t seem quite low as well.

We hit an unexpected, almost-flat speed bump following which there was a depression on the road, and all the wheels were momentarily in the air, not even for half a second. The speed was a bit high to admit it here. We were astonished by the consequence! Even in that fraction of a second the seat belt pretensioner acted up and pulled us very tightly toward the seat, and when we landed there was absolutely no feeling of a fall. There was no bounce/bobbing either. It was like we were caught by open arms ready to receive us. We obviously wanted to try it again, but once was more than enough since the surprise factor didn’t apply anymore. Since then we were wishing to be caught off-guard by Volvo’s electronics.

There are a number of drive assist features, more importantly, semi-autonomous parking. It is no news that the 2.0-litre four-cylinder twin-turbo D4 diesel engine that produces 190 hp at 4,250 rpm and 400 Nm at 1,750-2,500 rpm, is a peppy and lively engine that doesn’t show signs of gasping at any region of the rev band. The twin turbocharger system works so seamlessly that turbo lag is hardly felt. The NVH levels of the powertrain system has been continually improved; on top of which Volvo has reworked on the insulation of the cabin to further lower the creeping of sound/vibration. To be blunt, it felt like driving a petrol car.

The transversely mounted engine driving the front wheels, is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting mode. The dual-clutch system is very smooth as expected in shifting between the cogwheels, and very responsive too. The 0-100 kmph acceleration of the Volvo S90 is achieved in around 8.5 seconds, and the top speed is electronically limited to 230 kmph.


Everybody claims a difference. Volvo claims exclusivity. If you wish to be so, have a look at the Volvo S90. There is no compromise as part of the bargain.

Volvo S90 Exterior Features:

LED headlights with automatic bending
Headlight high pressure cleaning
EBL, Flashing Brake Light and Hazard Warning
Fog lamps embedded in front bumper
Inscription grill
Colour coordinated rear view mirror covers
Retractable mirrors
Bright decor side windows
Fully colour adapted sills and bumpers
Colour coordinated door handles with bright deco
Illumination and Puddle lights
Dual integrated tail pipes

Volvo S90 Interior Features:

Leather upgrade on dash board + front/rear doors
Leather steering wheel, uni-deco inlay, 3 spoke
Leather gear lever knob with UNI deco
Linear Walnut decor inlays
Standard colour on headlining/ceiling
black carpet kit
Illuminated vanity mirrors in sun visor LH/RH side
12 volt outlet in rear/lower tunnel console
Automatically dimmed inner and exterior mirrors
‘Volvo’ illuminated sill moulding in metal
High level interior illumination
Temporary spare wheel T125/80R18
Power Operated Tailgate / Boot lid

Volvo S90 Seats:

Nappa leather upholstery
Ventilated front seats
Netpocket on tunnel
Heated front seats
Power adjustable driver and co-driver seats with memory
Power cushion extension on driver and front passenger side
Power adjustable side support
4 way power adjustable lumbar support
Power fold of rear backrest from tailgate opening
Power folding rear headrests
Centre armrest with cupholders and storage
Integrated child seats on rear seat bench

Volvo S90 Climate Control System:

4-zone Electronic Climate Control including cooled glove box
CleanZone (AQS) air filtration system that has PM2.5 and PM10 restriction
Sun blind, rear side door windows
Heated windscreen washer nozzles
Power sunroof

Volvo S90 Security Systems:

Basic Alarm system with Interior motion sensor and Inclination sensor
Private locking
Lock cylinder glovebox
Key remote control Inscription, leather clad
Keyless entry with remote tag and handsfree tailgate opening
Power child lock, rear doors
Central lock switch with diode in front and rear doors
Laminated windows

Volvo S90 Instrumentation:

9-inch touchscreen multimedia and control system
12.3-inch Driver Display
Switchable HUD projection for vehicle speed

Volvo S90 Drive Assist Systems:

Drive mode settings
Personal settings, power steering
Lane Keeping Aid
Cruise control
Park Assist Camera
Park Assist Pilot + Park Assist Front and Rear
Hill start assist
Rain sensor
Graphical Head Up Display

Volvo S90 Safety Features:

SIPS Airbags
Inflatable curtains
Emergency Brake Assist, EBA
Intelligent Driver Information System (IDIS)
Whiplash protection, front seats
Pretensioners – front/rear all positions
Cut-Off Switch for Passenger AirBag
Isofix – outer position rear seat
High positioned rear brake lights
Indirect TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System)

Volvo S90 Audio, Navigation and Telematics:

19-speaker Bowers and Wilkins premium audio system with Gothenburg Concert Hall mode
1 Subwoofer
Remote control buttons on steering wheel
1 AUX, 2 USB and Bluetooth connectivities
CD player in centre console storage
Navigation – Pro
Apple CarPlay

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