Volvo goes large

with new 90s

Volvo S90, front
Volvo S90 and V90, static
Volvo S90, side
Volvo S90, rear
Volvo S90, interior
Volvo S90, boot
Volvo V90, front
Volvo V90, side
Volvo V90, rear
Volvo V90, interior

SWEDISH sophistication is standard in the latest Volvo S and V 90 series.

The new large premium saloon and estate models in Momentum or Inscription trims embody features from the XC90 with an emphasis on "relaxed confidence" through design, driving technology, connectivity and a reputation for advanced safety.

They are the latest to be built on Volvo's scaleable product architecture where the only fixed point is the distance from fascia to mid-point front axle and all other measurements are varied to suit the particular car.

The saloon is 4.96 metres from nose to tail and has a 500 litres boot but a small opening while the similar length estate takes a minimum 560 litres rising to 1,526 litres.

At the other end, the launch cars get a choice of the company's Drive-E range of 190 or 235hp 2.0 litre diesel four-cylinder engines and eight-speed automatic transmission.

A sporting R-Design is due soon and next year will see the addition of a petrol-electric T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid which does 28-miles from a charge.

The most powerful diesels use power pulse compressed air induction to boost the turbo-charger at low engine speed and quicken acceleration from rest and without any pollution.

Volvo's new wishbone front suspension and rear multi-link system with composite transverse leaf spring is used to give better feedback and aid roadholding and there are touring and sporting options.

Volvo has made much of the new cars' connectivity and telematics and there is a nine-inch central information screen with voice control which can be linked to the user's mobile phone and Sensus wifi with downloadable applications to assist giving the owner remote data and enabling some features to be set up in the car from home or office.

The system also works with the garage to alert them to any issues and advise on checks or servicing and in emergencies acts as an automatic beacon for rescue services.

For the driver the new Volvos get enhanced pilot assist to keep the car centred in road lanes working with run-off mitigation and protection but it also for the first time has large animal detection built into the city safety feature to alert the driver to objects in the road apart from pedestrians and cyclists and significantly will pick up sheep or small deer.

Volvo will not be drawn on anticipated sales of the new series but believe it will make the models more attractive to executive car buyers and expect a roughly one-third split between Momentum, R-Design and Inscription models as the full series is introduced by 2017.

There are six models in each saloon or estate range with a starting price of £32,555 for the four door and £34,555 for the estate and rising to £42,055 and £44,055 respectively.

On the safety front the cars have Volvo's pilot assist function which enables them to almost drive themselves under certain circumstances and the animal detection system which will automatically apply the brakes.

Both the V90 and S90 also feature high tech camera systems which keep the cars in the middle of a road-lane and other systems to alert the emergency services if you have a bad crash.

The technology is brain-bashing in its abilities but fairly easy to use, even if a little frustrating at times when the lane-watch switched off momentarily passing cones on a motorway hard-shoulder.

We tried both saloon and 'power-pulse' boosted 2.0-litre diesels, and found the latter much more responsive and a better unit in the near 1,700kg cars.

The standard D4 engine is good make no mistake but the D5 is sharper, although it also proved thirstier at 36mpg overall compared to nearly 43mpg in the stablemate.

Gearchanges were smooth, the ride occasionally firmer than I expected, but the steering needs more feeling put into the system for this driver. Brakes were excellent.

Whether you go for saloon or estate you'll not be shortchanged on space as they are both very roomy throughout but the four-door's boot opening is not large despite it having a big capacity.

The overall impression it left with me is that this is a very safe car - especially for sheep or other creatures which may stray into your path.

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