It used to be that Volvo estate cars were revered in a similar fashion to flat caps, tobacco pipes and a strong glass of Stout. But it seems the tide is finally starting to turn.
Following on from the very handsome XC90 SUV, the V90 Estate is a sophisticated (yes, a stylish Volvo Estate), plush family car that attempts to merge the Swedish carmaker’s ideals, such as ample practicality, safety and interior niceties, with Germanic-esque styling.
New-found style aside however, the luxurious large family car market is not an easy nut to crack - it is swimming with seasoned competitors, such as the BMW 5 Series Touring, Mercedes E-Class Estate and Audi A6 Avant.
So, can the new V90 do a better job than past V70 models?
Currently there are only two engines available – D4 and D5 diesels – both of which are 2.0-litre units. The D4 engine we tested is the less powerful of the two, although it still has a heady amount of power, with 187bhp and 400Nm of torque. It also takes just 8.5 seconds to reach 62mph.
This engine sits alongside an eight-speed automatic gearbox, which is smooth enough for cruising and pottering about town, although it can struggle keeping up under heavy acceleration – like most autos.
The D4 certainly doesn’t feel lacking in terms of power, but for those who want smoother acceleration, the slightly punchier D5 is the one to go for as it features PowerPulse technology, which minimises turbo lag via a small electrical boost.
Ride and Handling
Refinement all-round is impressive in the V90, with wind and road roar effectively muted, but the D4 diesel does let out a heavy roar under heavy acceleration as the automatic gearbox bounces the revs.
The V90’s suspension doesn’t offer the cushiest ride around, but it offers a good middle ground between sportiness and comfort. Cruise for five hours or so on a smooth motorway and you will do so trouble free and feel fresh afterwards. But take a detour down some pothole-filled country lanes and the slight firmness is noticeable and will leave you wishing you’d have opted for the optional adaptive dampers and rear air suspension. The V90 does feel like a big estate, but it still corners fairly well and the steering offers enough responsiveness to fill you with confidence – although you won’t find yourself chucking it about as liberally as the BMW 5 Series Touring allows. Refinement all-round is impressive in the V90, with wind and road roar effectively muted, but the D4 diesel does let out a heavy roar under heavy acceleration as the automatic gearbox bounces the revs. Volvo’s autonomous technology and driver assist features are an important aspect of what makes the V90 enjoyable to drive. From adaptive cruise control to lane keep assist, you always feel like the car is well aware of its surroundings. The semi-autonomous Pilot Assist feature is designed to be utilised when cruising at motorway speeds as it takes control of the brakes, accelerator and steering – perfect for continuously changing traffic conditions.
Interior and Equipment
The Volvo V90 shares a platform with the larger XC90 SUV.
The interior of the V90 is littered with high-quality materials and detailing, from soft, couch-like leather seats to its unique twist ignition key. The layout of the dashboard is also extremely minimalistic, with most features being housed within a large nine-inch, vertically mounted touchscreen system. This isn’t just any old touchscreen system though. Already championed on the XC90 SUV, this system is brilliantly intuitive and acts as the heart of the car, with controls and functions for everything from Spotify to sat-nav and scheduled air-con conditioning to automatically-folding headrests. This screen comes as standard on every model, too. Other standard kit includes DAB radio, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control, LED headlights and heated seats with leather upholstery. The only significant omission standard kit wise is a reversing camera, which in such a big car really is missed. Like most other large executive family cars, the V90 impresses when it comes to rear passenger space, with ample leg and headroom. The rear seats also emulate the couch cushion front seats to offer limousine-like comfort. Boot space on the other hand is a funny one. Although there is 560 litres of storage space with the seats up and 1,526 litres with the seats down – not to mention the fact that the seats fold completely flat and there is a handy pop-up luggage divider and clever underfloor storage – the V90 is not as practical as its BMW and Mercedes counterparts. Sure, these large figures will only really come into play if you plan on loading your car up to the brim, but for some people, that may be the case.
Those who plan on spending a lot of time on the motorway should find running costs to their liking as 55mpg will be easily achievable.
The Volvo V90 isn’t cheap, starting at £35,000, and that’s assuming you don’t opt for some of its pricey optional extras. It is however cheaper than its battalion of German rivals, including the Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5 Series Touring and the Audi A6 Avant. Those who plan on spending a lot of time on the motorway should find running costs to their liking as 55mpg will be easily achievable. And company car drivers will be happy to hear that with CO2 of just 119g/km, the V90 carries a BIK taxation rate of just 23 per cent.
Similar to those who are looking to buy something a little different, like a Jaguar, Volvo fans will love the V90’s unique touches, like its gaping grille and quirky touchscreen – and most likely disregard its small inferiorities like boot space and driving dynamics. It’s without doubt a step in the right direction for the Swedish brand, with a definite sense of modernity oozing from its design and drive. And even though it has been modernised, the V90 still manages to stay true to the Volvo name, with plenty of equipment, practicality and safety on-board. If you are a German car fan who loves the luxurious interior and status of saloons and estates, then we highly recommend you give the V90 a look.