New V90 puts Volvo

back on map

Volvo V90, 2016, front, action
Volvo V90, 2016, side, action
Volvo V90, 2016, boot, bag attachment
Volvo V90, 2016, interior
Volvo V90, 2016, rear, action
Volvo V90, 2016, boot

OUTWARDLY, it's definitely a Volvo. The bold, vertically slatted grille, trademark T-shaped daytime running lights and a clean, uncluttered body.

The new V90 is the estate car that promises to put the Swedish firm back on the map in an area where it once reigned supreme.

Of course, there's a sister saloon called the S90 which has the challenging task of taking on German prestige opposition such as Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5 Series and Audi A6.

But it is the V range of estates that is likely to be the more significant choice among UK buyers.

Beneath the stylish, yet restrained, exterior of the latest V90 which starts at £34,500 and is now on sale, lies a very different car from its predecessors.

With a new suspension design and the latest, lightweight platform, the 2017 V90 has an athleticism that was absent from Volvo's earlier incarnations of large cars.

It rides unusually well and has a fluidity of handling to match or better its German rivals.

There's another factor that marks the estate out from previous V90s. And this aspect might not prove so appealing to the traditional Labrador-owning buyers - no longer can the model boast being the roomiest vehicles in its sector.

With space for 560 litres of luggage with both rows of seats in place, and 1,526 litres when the back row is folded, the V90 is eclipsed by most opposition. In fact, the cavernous E-Class estate can absorb more than 400 litres of extra cargo in the back.

Two engine options are available, both diesel. The D4 is powered by an 187bhp, two litre which gives it an 8.5 second dash to 62mph allied to economy of 62.8mpg.

The turbocharged 232bhp D5, which only comes as a four wheel drive, takes 7.2 seconds to reach 62mph and manages 57.6mpg combined. Both models are eight speed automatics.

Three trim levels are available - Momentum, R-Design and Inscription.

Even the entry level spec is generously fitted out with such goodies as sat nav, nine-inch touch screen, leather seating, heated front seats, twin zone climate control and powered tailgate.

All models also have ‘pilot assist' which helps manage the car within lane markings and takes care of braking and steering up to 80mph, although the driver obviously must keep his or her hands on the wheel.

A world first for Volvo is the cyclist and large animal detection system which applies emergency braking in the event of an impending collision.

Luggage space may be less than some rivals, but there's no shortage of passenger room front or back. The cabin is generously proportioned with stacks of leg and headroom.

Styling is classy and restrained with an air of calmness and organisation about the controls layout. Natural wood can be specified, but I found the use of high-grade plastics and matt-finish metals to be more effective and appropriately contemporary.

The more conventionally shaped S90 saloon has a similar range structure, cabin layout and engine line-up with prices starting at £32,500, £2,000 cheaper than the estate.

Volvo has come a long way since the days of tall, boxy estates.

The new V90 shares both its platform and many styling cues with the recently introduced and highly praised XC90 range of SUVs and is sure to attract new cross-section of younger buyers.

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