VOLVO S90 T6 R-DESIGN
VOLVO S90 T6 R-DESIGN INSCRIPTION
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.