THE HEIGHT OF LUX­URY – VOLVO S90

VOLVO S90

In Flight Magazine - - IN THIS ISSUE - { TEXT: BERNARD K HELLBERG | IMAGES © VOLVO }

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.

WHAT’S IN­SIDE?

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.

SAFETY

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.

FI­NAL SAY

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.

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