By Robert Maddox
VOLVO is taking on Mercedes, Audi and BMW with a formidable trio of new models in the V90 estate, XC90 SUV and S90 saloon.
These are cars presenting a dynamic fresh image for the manufacturer with a tradition of producing super-safe, highly advanced and remarkably strong cars and they’re instantly recognisable thanks their distinctive T-shaped LED headlights.
Check out the V90 if you’re seeking a more practical executive car. Priced from £34,555, it mirrors the new S90 (from £32,500) in benefitting from Volvo’s ground-breaking Drive-E powertrains.
Both models are, initially, available with a choice of two 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel engines – the tax-efficient D4 and the powerful and refined D5 PowerPulse and in two trim levels, Momentum and Inscription.
Choose the front-wheel-drive 190 hp D4 V90 and you’ll an estate enjoy with an eight-speed automatic gearbox which offers combined fuel consumption of 62.8 mpg and CO2 emissions of just 119 g/km.
The V90 estates with 235 hp D5 utilise innovative technology called PowerPulse to boost responsiveness and have all-wheel-drive to harness the impressive power of the engine.
PowerPulse uses compressed air, which is stored in a tank in the engine bay and refilled automatically, to spool up the turbo at low revs. The move overcomes turbo lag, which is the short delay in the power delivery you experience in traditional turbocharged engines.
All-wheel-drive brings outstanding grip and the eight-speed automatic gearbox offers super-smooth gear-changing. Every version of the V90 is luxuriously equipped. As standard, even entry-level Momentum cars come with leather upholstery, LED headlights with active high beam, two-zone climate control with CleanZone air-filtration system, keyless engine starting and heated front seats.
Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system is also standard. This brings a nine-inch touchscreen, satellite navigation (including lifetime annual map updates), a sophisticated voice-control system, and access to the internet and a range of cloud-based apps such as TuneIn, Stitcher and Yelp.
All V90 cars further feature Pilot Assist, Volvo’s innovative semi-autonomous drive feature. This automatically keeps you at a set speed or distance from the vehicle in front, braking and accelerating with the flow of traffic, and gives gentle steering inputs to keep the car within lane markings at motorway speeds up to 80 mph.
Unlike previous versions of the system, it no longer needs to follow another car, so, clearly, is another step towards fully autonomous driving.
The latest version of City Safety fitted to every S90 and V90 includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, and the world-first application of large-animal detection. This feature helps to avoid or limit the severity of collisions with large animals such as deer or horses both at night and during the day.
Moving up to Inscription adds Nappa soft leather upholstery, powered front seats, a 12.3-inch active TFT driver’s information display (Momentum cars get an eight-inch version), 18-inch diamond-cut/silver alloy wheels, keyless entry and handsfree boot/tailgate opening and closing.
Additional premium touches include walnut interior inlays, rear footwell and side step illumination, and chrome exterior details.
An optional Xenium package adds a powered tilt and slide glass panoramic sunroof, a parking camera system with 360 degree surround view, and Park Assist Pilot, which includes automatic parallel and 90-degree parking.
Make no mistake, Volvo has turned the V90 into a serious contender in the premium market while also producing an extremely practical estate in building on the firm’s heritage in this sector.