VOLVO S90 T6 R-DE­SIGN

VOLVO S90 T6 R-DE­SIGN IN­SCRIP­TION

Driven - - Contents - Re­port & Images by BERNIE HELL­BERG

Pre­mium lux­ury with a Swedish twist

WOULD YOU BUY A VOLVO IN­STEAD OF A BMW OR MERCEDES-BENZ? IF YOU’D ASKED THE QUES­TION 10 YEARS AGO, THE AN­SWER WOULD PROB­A­BLY HAVE BEEN OB­VI­OUS. TO­DAY IT IS A DIF­FER­ENT STORY, WITH VOLVO FAST BE­COM­ING A GEN­UINE PRE­MIUM CON­TENDER THAT OF­FERS PRE­MIUM LUX­URY WITH A SWEDISH TWIST. BERNIE HELL­BERG RE­CENTLY TESTED THE PER­FOR­MANCE-ORI­ENTED S90 T6 R-DE­SIGN.

In re­cent years, Volvo has in­creas­ingly chal­lenged the Ger­man tri­umvi­rate for mar­ket share, both here and abroad. The XC90, a WesBank South African Car Of The Year win­ner in 2016, was the brand’s first new car on a new plat­form in for­ever, and ab­so­lutely nailed the com­pe­ti­tion.

But, in re­al­ity, the S90 will be the car to test Volvo’s new-found suc­cess to the max. It en­ters the mar­ket where the BMW 5 Se­ries, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and Audi A6 lead the way. All three are ex­ceed­ingly good cars, so the S90 will truly have to be at the top of its game to stand any chance of even mak­ing a dent.

NO SPACE IS­SUES

In terms of out­right ca­pac­ity, the S90’s boot can’t hold quite as much as any of its ri­vals. How­ever, you’d strug­gle to no­tice much of a dif­fer­ence in the real world, and what’s more, the wide open­ing and flat boot floor both make that space more us­able than the com­pe­ti­tion.

In­side the cabin, how­ever, things get im­pres­sive, and pas­sen­ger space is ex­cep­tion­ally good, with huge amounts of legroom in the back, and plenty head- and el­bow room all around.

There are some use­ful cub­bies and size­able door bins up front in the S90, too, which should mean plenty of room to stash any small items you need to keep nearby.

SPORTY AL­TER­NA­TIVE

You can have an S90 with a nor­mal sus­pen­sion setup, which de­liv­ers a good ride qual­ity, or in the case of the T6, the R-De­sign sus­pen­sion pack­age is lower and stiffer than stan­dard and has been de­signed to give the S90 a sportier feel.

Volvo’s seats are usu­ally some of the finest in the busi­ness and here they’re no ex­cep­tion. There’s loads of ad­just­ment on of­fer and back­ache sim­ply isn’t an is­sue on a long trip, although larger driv­ers should note that the R-De­sign’s sports seats have rather pro­nounced side bol­sters.

IN­TE­RIOR

Soft curves and fab­u­lous ma­te­ri­als de­fine the S90’s in­te­rior, mak­ing it a more re­lax­ing place to be than most of its ri­vals. Only the Mercedes E-class feels more spe­cial in­side.

The cen­tre point is the large touch­screen, which is al­most tablet­sized, and con­trols just about all ma­jor func­tions. For the most part, it works well and means fewer but­tons. Although, since so many func­tions are con­trolled from this sin­gle in­ter­face, one tends to spend lots of time trawl­ing through sub­menus to find the func­tion you want.

That’s a mi­nor is­sue, though, and for the most part, the S90’s in­te­rior is de­light­ful.

GET MOV­ING

For­tu­nately, the T6 is an ab­so­lute cracker out of the blocks. The au­to­matic gear­box is re­spon­sive and pre­cise, and while hard ac­cel­er­a­tion seemed to strain the high-revving 2.0-litre en­gine a lot, the T6 is rarely less than per­fectly smooth and easy to drive.

Brakes are some­what sen­si­tive, although you do get used to them af­ter a while.

Ex­em­plary driv­ing dy­nam­ics is one of the T6’s best at­tributes. In R-De­sign guise it is low-slung, sta­ble and con­trolled through cor­ners. The T6’s all-wheel-drive setup adds to the cars feel­ing of alert­ness and keeps things beau­ti­fully bal­anced when you ap­ply the power through a bend.

SAFETY

Volvo is known for pro­duc­ing some of the safest cars around, and the S90 is no

ex­cep­tion, scor­ing full marks in Euro NCAP’s in­dus­try-stan­dard crash tests. As stan­dard, you get all the safety equip­ment you could wish for, in­clud­ing a so­phis­ti­cated net­work of sen­sors that can de­tect when you’re about to crash and ap­ply the brakes or when you’re about to run off the road and steer you back onto it, as well as a host of other equip­ment you’d usu­ally have to pay ex­tra for.

EQUIP­MENT

The model range starts with the Mo­men­tum, which gets you pretty much ev­ery­thing you could want as stan­dard - and a heap more be­sides. Dual-zone cli­mate con­trol, sat­nav, leather seats heated in the front, key­less start, adap­tive cruise con­trol, Pi­lot-As­sist self-steer­ing tech­nol­ogy; the list goes on.

Our T6, how­ever, came in R-De­sign trim, giv­ing you sportier styling, big­ger wheels, and a low­ered sus­pen­sion.

LAST WORD

The S90 isn’t far off be­ing at the top of its class. It re­ally is that good. It’s com­fort­able, stylish, a plea­sure to ride in and drive, and chock-full of toys. True, a Mercedes E-Class gets bet­ter fuel econ­omy and a slightly more com­fort­able ride, while a BMW 5 Se­ries is more fun to drive, but the Volvo’s price ad­van­tage and gor­geous in­te­rior make it a com­pelling al­ter­na­tive.

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