A Volvo that's better than its German rivals - the S90

Chat with me on Twitter and Instagram @Daniel Calbacho

 

The new Volvo S90 is beautiful. Not just as a car but as a design - it is art – gorgeous, functional art. 

 

Perhaps part of its beauty lies in the fact that the S90 is lower, wider and bigger than its competitors. From the front - its large grille, made up of 23 concave curved ribs; borrowed from Volvo's 60's sexy coupe, the P1800, and framed by "Thor's Hammer"-styled LED headlamps. Together, this duo makes an impressively bold-looking car. The side profile exudes supreme luxury with its long bonnet, adding to the S90 perception of premium luxury. Walk around to its rear, and you'll view unique confidence. Overall the front and side profile solicits an overwhelmingly positive response. Opinions regarding the rear are polarized but I enjoy its unique take on design.

The interior is class-leading. Everything you see and touch is of the highest quality. Everything. No corners cut. Real leather, brushed aluminum, chrome and classical wood veneers abound - creating a spectacularly cosseted environment. Although the interior is ensconced in traditional materials, they are immersed, with the driver, in the latest technologies. Semi-autonomous driving with Pilot Assist, IntelliSafe, which monitors the environment around the car to prevent an accident, advanced headlight technology that reads the road ahead - increasing or decreasing lighting volume for an optimal view. These are only a few of the innovations in the S90 that make its driver and occupants feel safe and loved. Highlights within the cabin are the all-digital instrumentation, 12.3 inches for the digital cluster and a 9-inch iPad-like Sensus Connect touchscreen infotainment system. Both sublime and easy enough to read and navigate.

Let's be honest, drivers of cars within this segment don't want racing cars. Rather, they want control, predictability and a comfort. The S90 is all this and more. Driving it reveals that the S90 is more like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class in driving character. The other competitors, the Jaguar XF and the BMW 5 Series, are sportier in their character. Their ride is firmer, and their steering feels more direct by comparison, but this isn't to say the S90 lacks dynamism. On the contrary - where you point, it will go, should it slide - the S90 D5 comes with AWD technology adding to its gripping prowess – this AWD technology is unique to the S90 and only optional in foreign markets. What's better about the S90, versus the competition, is the way it balances being comfortable with being dynamic – holistically, the S90 is very well-rounded as a result. 

Considering I reviewed the S90, an Inscription - a premium model - rides on optional 8-spoke, 20-inch rims (R15K +) with a profile as thin as flapjack, reiterates just how compliant the ride is. Albeit, the model I reviewed did come with optional air-suspension (an R20K + option) which does "sponge" some of the irregularities of the road. Although not as attractive, the smaller 19-inch wheels feature higher profile rims. This combination is best for road comfort and negates the need for the air suspension unless you must have those magnificent large wheels, of course.

Interior accommodation is cavernous. Sitting in the perfect position in the driver's seat and then in the rear, reveals vast leg and shoulder space with ample headroom. Open up the electronic boot, and although it isn’t the largest within its class, intelligent suspension design geometry has allowed for the removal of intrusive side bulges. As a result, the S90 has an incredibly usable boot space when compared to its competition.

Whichever S90 you drive, all are powered by 2.0-l engines. You have the choice of petrol, in the T5 or more potent T6, which is AWD or diesel, with the entry-level D4 and AWD D5. The D5 features twin-turbo technology and a very clever boosting system called PowerPulse. How it works: imagine a large aerosol can filled with air. When you accelerate hard, this air is instantly released, blowing into the car's turbo system. It acts like an instant energy kick, eliminating any turbo lag. Once the air is released, the aerosol is instantly filled again and ready for the next hard acceleration. Some of you may be thinking that only having a 2.0-l may be a handicap. Well if you think a zero to 100km/h in just 7 seconds and a top speed of 240km/h is a handicap, then let’s agree to disagree. If performance is a must, then the T6 is your best bet.

 

So, with such an incredibly accomplished product – are there any flaws? The automobile pessimist will point out that Volvo’s, in South Africa, suffer a legacy of weak resale values. Luckily, Volvo has addressed this issue. Volvo South Africa now offers a guaranteed buyback plan. How it works: Currently, Volvo SA, through Volvo Versatility Finance, offers a guaranteed future value of 64.5% on all S90 models. This is currently after 36 months, with a mileage restriction of 20 000 km per annum and a linked deposit of up to 35%.

However, from 1 July 2017, Volvo SA are able to give prospective buyers, even more choice, but the Guaranteed Future Value percentage and deposit options remain the same:

24 months, 15- 20- or 25 000 km per annum

36 months, 15- 20- or 25 000 km per annum

48 months, 15- or 20 000 km per annum

 

A choice is a primary driver behind the extended options, giving customers who change their cars more often the ability and flexibility to do so with a Volvo.

An excellent car with a great value protection plan, but unfortunately this type of car has become like a dinosaur. The large luxury sedan is rapidly being replaced with a plethora of luxury SUV options. Sad, but fact!  

 

PLUS +

Beautifully unique.

Value for money.

High quality.

Outstanding optional extra 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system.

 

MINUS –

Subjective rear end styling.

Limited engine choice for performance fundi.

 

Competition

Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Jaguar XF.

 

Pricing 

S90 T5 Geartronic Momentum R804 000

S90 D4 Geartronic Momentum R832 000

S90 T5 Geartronic R-Design R864 000

S90 T5 Geartronic Inscription R874 000

S90 D4 Geartronic R-Design R892 000

S90 D4 Geartronic Inscription R902 000

 

S90 D5 Geartronic AWD R-Design R985 000

S90 D5 Geartronic AWD Inscription R995 000

S90 T6 Geartronic AWD R-Design R1 045 000

S90 T6 Geartronic AWD Inscription R1 055 000

 

Service and Warranty 

All models come standard with a 5-year/100 000 km full vehicle warranty, full maintenance plan and roadside assistance, as well as laminated glass and Tracker Connect as standard.

 

My Choice

S90 T5 Geartronic Inscription R874 000

www.volvocars.com/za

 

 

 

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