Don’t box me in

Jez Spinks finds the Volvo V90 is part of the con­tin­u­ing trans­for­ma­tion of the fa­mously util­i­tar­ian Swedish mar­que.

Men's Style (Australia) - - Priority Male -

Lego isn’t the only Scan­di­na­vian com­pany fa­mous for build­ing bricks. Swedish brand Volvo’s big sedans and wag­ons through the 1970s to 1990s were given such a nick­name for their rigidly boxy styling.

It was a more en­dear­ing moniker than it may have sounded, also em­brac­ing the mod­els’ rep­u­ta­tions for prac­ti­cal­ity and safety. In 240-se­ries form, par­tic­u­larly, you could also add dura­bil­ity.

Builders, though, would be un­likely to mis­tak­enly trowel mor­tar onto Volvo’s lat­est big wagon. There’s a finely sculpted shape to the V90, link­ing it vis­ually to the car maker’s 90-se­ries ve­hi­cles – the S90 sedan twin and XC90 SUV that share the same plat­form.

Dis­tinc­tive Scan­di­na­vian de­sign is part of Volvo’s bold move to shift its brand per­cep­tion out of the up­per­main­stream and into the full world of pres­tige au­to­mo­biles.

The V90’s cabin im­me­di­ately sug­gests the wagon is wor­thy of be­ing com­pared with the likes of the Audi A6 Avant, BMW 5 Se­ries Tour­ing and Mercedes-benz E-class Es­tate. The in­te­rior is brim­ming with high-qual­ity ma­te­ri­als and richly tex­tured sur­faces, while a thought­ful ap­proach to the seat­ing en­vi­ron­ment is also ev­i­dent from the ex­cel­lent er­gonomics. Front and cen­tre is a 9-inch por­trait­for­mat touch­screen, which is more re­spon­sivere­spon­sive thanthan some­some ri­val­ri­val dis­plays­dis­plays –– an­dand it­sits size­size pro­videspro­vides aa su­perbly­su­perbly ex­pan­sive view of the nav map.

There’s ex­ten­sive room in the rear, too, with built-in child booster seats in the outer pews pro­vid­ing a clever touch for fam­i­lies.

The boot, ac­cessed via an auto tail­gate, can’t claim class-best ca­pac­ity but still com­fort­ably holds a long hol­i­day’s worth of lug­gage. This was proven in the UK where we tested the V90, which is un­der con­sid­er­a­tion for Aus­tralia. The Cross Coun­try ver­sion of the wagon is al­ready here, and the higher-rid­ing spin-off would have been hand­ier for some English coun­try­side tracks.

The reg­u­lar V90 does fea­ture all­wheel-drive as stan­dard in the UK, though, while on the road it ex­cels as a com­fort­able cruiser. It’s not the sporti­est of drives de­spite fea­tur­ing a ‘Dy­namic’ chas­sis as stan­dard, yet ac­cu­rate, well-weighted steer­ing and a sup­ple – if oc­ca­sion­ally bouncy – sus­pen­sion en­sure the wagon is en­joy­able to drive, if the pace isn’t too hot.

Our Mo­men­tum D4 vari­ant, the base model in the UK, fea­tured a 140kw/400nm four-cylin­der turbo diesel that is re­spectably quiet when revved and silky smooth and torquey when on the boil. Its main flaw is low-rev turbo lag that makes for less-than-ideal he­si­tancy on take-offs at junc­tions or over­takes.

Fol­low­ing the XC90 SUV, though, this is an­other big, 90-se­ries Volvo lay­inglay­ing foun­da­tions­foun­da­tions for­for thethe Swedeswede’ss lux­ury-lux­ury-seg­mentseg­ment am­bi­­bi­tions.


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