Expert Reviews

Driven: Volvo S90 D4

Thursday 25 August 2016

Driven: Volvo S90 D4

Volvo has never really been what you would call a ‘cool’ brand. If you’ve heard Tinie Tempah on the radio, you’ll know he has been telling anyone who will listen that he drives a Mercedes, not a Volvo. Now though, the Swedish manufacturer has released a car that could change Tinie’s tune – the S90. This new E-Class rival has just touched down in the UK, and we’ve been driving the economical D4 version to see if it’s any good.

The D5, with its all-wheel drive might be the most attention grabbing model, but the incredibly economical, front-wheel drive D4 will likely prove incredibly popular among company car buyers.

Looks & Image

If you’ve seen an S90, you’ll know they are quite striking things to look at – and the D4 is no different. The new ‘Thor’s hammer’ headlights and concave grille make for a very dashing-looking car. These features will soon be the norm on all future Volvos.

Moving past the front of the car, you’ll notice the roofline – which seems almost coupe-like in its appearance. The back-end of the car is more of a sticking point, with some either loving or hating it. The boot lid is incredibly steep, and the tail lights almost look disproportionate to the rest of the car.

Fans of the XC90’s interior will feel right at home in the S90, as much of the cabin has been taken over from the larger SUV. Build quality is top notch, as is the slick Scandinavian styling. You also get the clever nine-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

All told, the S90 offers buyers plenty to like in the looks department. Compared to rivals from BMW and Mercedes, Volvo is well on its way to catching up in terms of desirability.

Space & Practicality

Compared to the E-Class, the S90 is slightly longer – measuring 4.96 metres – yet their interiors are roughly the same size. A relatively high beltline coupled with a seating position that is quite low down make the cabin feel a tad cosy, although up front there is plenty of room.

Anyone sitting in the back of the car won’t experience much discomfort, either, thanks to an abundance of legroom and an acceptable amount of headroom. Very tall passengers might not be too happy, though, owing to the car’s sloping roofline.

In terms of luggage capacity, the S90 is practically equal to its competition with 500 litres of boot space on offer. However, both the Jaguar XF and Mercedes E-Class – both of which are rear-wheel drive – manage to find an additional 40 litres of space.

Behind the Wheel

The superior economy of the S90 D4 does come at a price, as you miss out on the grip offered by the all-wheel drive D5 car, as well as its electronic supercharging.

However, a claimed fuel economy figure of 64mpg on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions of 116 grams per kilometre should make up for this. The power on offer isn’t awe-inspiring, but a 0-62mph time of 8.2 seconds should be more than enough.

As a driver’s car, you’d be likely be more satisfied with a BMW 5 Series or Jaguar XF. That said, it gives the Mercedes E-Class a serious run for its money in the comfort and technology fields, even if it can’t quite match the Merc’s incredibly smooth ride.

Refinement is good, with only a dash of tyre roar permeating into the cabin, although the four-cylinder engine does grumble a bit under hard acceleration. A brilliant sound system can easily cancel the majority of this noise out, though.

Value for Money

At £32,555, the entry-level S90 Momentum with D4 engine is a tempting option next to the £34,440 Mercedes E-Class. Customers who opt for this Volvo will receive 17-inch alloys, two-zone climate control, sat nav and full leather upholstery.

If you’re considering purchasing the D5, just know that this will set you back a further £6,500-£7,000 depending on the trim level you choose.

Choosing a D4 in R-Design trim would likely be your best bet, considering prices start at £35,000. This £2,500 premium will get you 18-inch alloys, sports seats in part-leather upholstery and sporty-looking exterior upgrades.

We had the top-of-the-line Incription model on test, which is priced from £35,555 and gains chrome exterior trim, keyless start and softer leather in the cabin.

Who would buy one ?

At the end of the day, the E-Class is still the most comfortable car in this segment. However, the S90 does offer a more than capable alternative for those looking for something slightly left-field. Thanks to its superior economy and significantly less expensive price tag over the D5, the D4 engine will likely be the most popular choice among buyers.

Facts at a Glance

Model: Volvo S90 D4 Inscription, from £35, 555

Engine: 2.0-litre turbodiesel producing 187bhp

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic powering the front wheels

Performance: Top speed 140mph, 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds

Economy: 64.2mpg combined

Emissions: 116g/km

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