Cape Town - As the second ‘new age’ Volvo to spawn from the Swedish carmaker’s new Scalable Product Architecture that was set in motion by the latest XC90, the S90 is a technologically jam-packed sedan designed to take on the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
One thing’s for sure, it’s not only slightly larger than those aforementioned Germans, but also runs circles around them when it comes to standard features. Like the Merc, the Volvo offers semi-autonomous driving technology, but in this case it’s part of the deal, standard across the range along with satnav and City Safety with auto-braking and detection systems for pedestrians (up to 70km/h), cyclists and large animals. Then comes a barrage of road detection systems designed to keep you in your lane and away from the edge of the road, and this car can even flash the brake lights when it detects that a vehicle behind it might be on a collision course. In fact, the only optional safety features are the Blind Spot Information System and Cross Traffic Alert.
The aforementioned semi-autonomous driving system goes by the name of Pilot Assist and can help you steer the car at speeds of up to 130km/h by recognising the lane markings, but you’ll still have to keep your hands on the wheel as the system cannot see everything all the time and worked intermittently on the car we sampled in Spain last year. Pilot Assist is coupled with the Active Cruise Control system, which can manage the vehicle’s speed (also following cars in front) at up to 200km/h.
On the subject of speed, South Africans will eventually have the option of four 2-litre turbo-charged engines, all mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Initially only the fancier T6 petrol and T5 diesel will be available, both featuring all-wheel drive, while the more affordable front-driven T5 and D4 models are set to arrive later in the year, along with the range-topping T8 plug-in hybrid.
The most potent engine for now is the 235kW/400Nm T6, which can run from 0-100km/h in an alleged 5.9 seconds, versus 6.8s in the case of the milder T5 option, which is good for 187kW and 350Nm.
The flagship diesel (D5) is rated at 173kW and 480Nm and also has a simple yet innovative compressed air delivery system that pumps air into turbo at low revs to compensate for the lag that inevitably occurs before the exhaust builds up sufficient pressure. This system doesn’t feature on the more affordable D4 diesel, which produces 140kW and 400Nm, and sprints from 0-100km/h in 8.7 seconds, according to Volvo. Expect the D5 to get you there in seven seconds flat.
The S90 is suspended on double wishbones up front but does away with coil springs at the back, instead employing an integral axle with transverse composite leaf springs. Buyers can however opt for a rear air suspension system, in which case you can fiddle with the settings via the Drive Mode selector, which also controls engine and gearbox characteristics on other models.
In fact you’ll find many ways to personalise your S90, particularly when digging in the 23cm HD Sensus Connect touch-screen, which has been set up much like a tablet, complete with customisable shortcuts, as well as tap, pinch and swipe gesture controls.
Bluetooth and Internet connectivity are standard (not the data though), but you will have to pay extra if you want Apple CarPlay or Android Auto for full smart-phone integration.
The S90 range spoils you for choice with three grades, as well as 12 different interior themes and 13 exterior colour options.
The range kicks off with the Momentum, which in addition to all of the auto-pilot and safety features mentioned earlier, comes with standard leather seats (powered in the driver’s case) as well as a 10 speaker audio system, satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors and a multi-function steering wheel. Exterior features include 18-inch alloy wheels and full-LED headlights.
The mid-range Inscription models gain Nappa leather, powered passenger seat with memory, adjustable ambient lighting and metal-finish inlays and it’s quite distinguishable on the outside too, adding chrome accents to the grille (Momentum has a black grille), chrome bumper and door handle accents and 19-inch alloys. The R-Design package adds a sportier design theme as the name implies.
And while the standard features list is certainly generous, Volvo has left a good few items to the options list, including a 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system, massaging front seats, head-up display, Park Assist Pilot, window blinds, four-zone climate control and Volvo’s CleanZone automatic air quality system, among others.
VOLVO S90 PRICES
T5 Geartronic Momentum – 187kW/350Nm – R675 200
T5 Geartronic Inscription – 187kW/350Nm – R718 700
T5 Geartronic R-Design – 187kW/350Nm – R704 200
T6 Geartronic AWD Momentum – 235kW/400Nm – R828 400
T6 Geartronic AWD Inscription – 235kW/400Nm – R871 900
T6 Geartronic AWD R-Design – 235kW/400Nm – R857 400
D4 Geartronic Momentum – 140kW/400Nm – R698 500
D4 Geartronic Inscription – 140kW/400Nm – R742 000
D4 Geartronic R-Design – 140kW/400Nm – R727 500
D5 Geartronic AWD Momentum – 173kW/480Nm – R777 700
D5 Geartronic AWD Inscription – 173kW/480Nm – R821 200
D5 Geartronic AWD R-Design – 173kW/480Nm – R806 700
A FEW ALTERNATIVES
BMW 530i – 185kW/350Nm – R850 294
Jaguar XF 2.5t Prestige – 177kW/340Nm – R809 426
Lexus GS 200t EX – 180kW/350Nm – R786 000
Mercedes-Benz E250 – 155kW/350Nm – R769 208
Audi A6 2.0 TDI SE – 140kW/400Nm – R695 500
BMW 520d – 140kW/400Nm – R780 156
Jaguar XF 2.0d Prestige – 132kW/430Nm – R765 900
Mercedes-Benz E220d – 143kW/400Nm – R766 700