THE HEIGHT OF LUXURY – VOLVO S90
AS A SMALL-VOLUME PLAYER IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN LUXURY CAR MARKET, VOLVO CONTINUES TO RESIST THE URGE TO DESIGN AND BUILD SMALLER (AND CHEAPER) MODELS IN ORDER TO PUSH UP VOLUMES. INSTEAD, THE LATEST S90 D5 AWD R-DESIGN GEARTRONIC (A NAME AS LONG AS THE LIST OF OPTIONS FOR WHICH YOU PAY EXTRA) HAS ALL THE BELLS AND WHISTLES DEMANDED BY BUYERS WHO INSIST ON RAREFIED EXCLUSIVITY.
Price-listed at R990,575, which includes R65,000 worth of options, the Volvo S90 offers a real alternative to the Teutonic Triplets (Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz). It has the look and feel of understated quality, and offers comfort, performance and excellent economy – all qualities that collectively represent a great motoring partnership.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
Surprisingly, the S90 doesn’t need a bulkyV6 or even aV8 power plant to get things going.The secret lies in the development and engineering advances visited upon what, superficially, is just another four-cylinder turbo diesel. Under this car’s hood, however, the fourcylinder is boosted happily along by twin turbos and what Volvo describes as Power Pulse Technology. The result is 173 kW at a fairly low 4,000 r/min, and tremendous torque (480 Nm) available from 1,750 to 2,250 r/min.
This, then, explains why the S90 dusts off the 0-100 km/h sprint in just seven seconds, reaching a top speed of 240 km/h, and with a (claimed) fuel consumption figure of 4.8 l/100 km. These are superb figures in sports car territory, and even more impressive in the case of bulky sedans.
The gearbox is a state-of-the-art eight-speed unit with perfectly matched ratios and gear changes so smooth that one has to keep an eye on the rev counter to experience its progress through the cogs.
Volvo interiors have always been a treat, and the S90 ups the ante even further. Soft Nappa leather upholstery and perfectly shaped seats – heated in front with power-adjustable side supports – provide levels of comfort which only Porsche can match.
The welcoming interior environment includes a 12.3” digital instrument cluster, toggle adjusters for adaptive cruise control, rear parking sensors, and navigation with free map upgrades for life. Interior options include a powered boot lid, premium sound by Bowers & Wilkins, and Park Assist Pilot.
If you have another R4,000 to play with, then Apple CarPlay/ Android Auto will be a good investment.
The heads-up display, at an eye-watering R14,500, may not be the best purchase for shorter people, who – once settled into that perfect driving position – will find that they are unable to use this feature.
Volvo has always claimed to make the safest vehicles on the road. Others may have caught up, but with the impressive list of six airbags, ABS brakes with EBD and Brake Assist, stability and traction control, as well as City Safety support,Volvo’s claims are safe in this regard. City Safety incorporates pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection (day and night), autobrake at intersections for oncoming traffic, and front collision warning with full auto brake.
TheVolvo S90 has much to commend it, and ticks all the boxes for those who demand a super-safe long-distance luxury cruiser that is a pleasure to drive and park under urban conditions as well. It’s pricey, leaving one with R9,425 change from a million after you have added all the goodies. The warranty is good for five years/100,000 km, and there’s a full maintenance plan which also covers five years/100,000 km. Build quality is sublime, handling is superb, and the Active Bending LED headlights are among the very best I’ve ever experienced.
There is one disappointment, however. After having experienced the quality of the Pirelli P Zero tyres fitted to the S90, one should not have to find, in the enormous luggage compartment, a Chao Yang space saver tyre. We all know that Geely owns Volvo but, really, this is like wearing a pair of Grasshoppers with an Armani suit. Come on,Volvo, get some real (full sized) rubber in the boot.