Three new degrees

from Volvo

Volvo S90 R-Design, 2017, front
Volvo S90 R-Design, 2017, nose
Volvo S90 R-Design, 2017, side
Volvo S90 R-Design, 2017, interior
Volvo V90 Cross Country, 2017, front
Volvo V90 Cross Country, 2017, side
Volvo V90 Cross Country, 2017, rear
Volvo V90 Cross Country, 2017, interior
Volvo V90 Cross Country, 2017, off road, track
Volvo V90 Cross Country, 2017, off road, front
Volvo V90 Cross Country, 2017, off road, forest
Volvo V90 Cross Country, 2017, off road, rear

SWEDISH car maker Volvo has certainly adopted a right angle of approach for its 90 range with the introduction of two very distinctive trim levels that bring a rugged or sportier choice of styling.

The S90 saloon and V90 estate cars were launched last year and gained accolades galore for their design, on-board technology including semi-autonomous driving, plus the high quality connectivity systems.

The models were offered in entry-level Momentum or more upmarket Inscription grades, but now Volvo has really raised the bar with the introduction of the rugged V90 Cross Country model or the dynamically-styled and sporty-looking R-Design models in both S90 and V90 form.

Each car has its own characteristics and identity. The Cross Country models boast a raised ride height, front and rear skid plates, protective wheel arch mouldings, a black gloss grille with chrome studs, charcoal-coloured side sills and door mouldings. It's rugged and has a go-anywhere look.

The R-Design features a gloss black mesh front grille with horizontal detailing, gloss black lower bumper inlays, matt silver door mirrors, integrated tail pipes, increased air intakes and diamond cut matt black alloys. A lowered stance gives this particular model a more dynamic, aggressive appearance.

Move inside and the clean cabin layout is inspired by Scandinavian culture. It's beautifully simplistic, with clean lines and offers the occupants a clutter-free, yet feature-rich driving environment.

The cars are equipped with the likes of Sensus Connect and Navigation systems with full European mapping, a nine-inch centre console touchscreen with zoom and swipe functions along with voice control, two-zone climate control, a heated steering wheel and heated seats.

And as the Volvo name is so readily associated with safety, the vehicles are packed with systems to keep the driver, passengers and even pedestrians as safe as possible.

Features include the City Safety suite of aids which works by using an integrated radar and camera unit to scan the area in front of the car and identify any objects it detects.

If a large animal such as a deer steps out in front of the vehicle, the system automatically applies maximum braking force to avoid a collision or reduce the severity as much as possible. This function works during the day or night and is an addition to the City Safety feature that helps detect cyclists or pedestrians.

And whilst on the subject of safety, the cars also boast a run off road function which steers the car back on track if it detects you are moving too close to the edge of the road.

Finally the Pilot Assist which is a step towards semi-autonomous driving. This system is great for motorway driving and will keep you in the correct lane whilst watching out for any hazards. You still have to keep your hands on the steering wheel every few seconds, but it works at speeds up to 80mph and no longer needs a lead vehicle to focus on.

The V90 estate is available in both the new trim grades, but the S90 saloon is only available in sportier R-Design.

As far as sales projections go, Volvo believes the S90 split will be fairly even with R-Design and Momentum accounting for 35 per cent of sales and Inscription making up the remaining 30 per cent.

On the V90 the split between the four trims is expected to be about 25 per cent each.

We tried out a couple of cars on a range of road routes and even put the V90 Cross Country through a tough off-road course.

First up was the V90 D4 190bhp AWD Cross Country priced at £39,785 (£44,135 with options).

This diesel-powered model was mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox and can reach 62mph from a standing start in 8.8 seconds. It maxes out at 130mph, has combined fuel economy of 54.3mpg with carbon emissions of 138g/km.

On the open road, the V90 was an absolute delight to drive and the luxury of heated seats and a heated steering wheel certainly helped to fend off the winter chill. Comfort levels are exceptionally good for all occupants and all the technology is easy to use without causing driver distraction.

The car handled superbly and was assured when pushed hard into sweeping bends. Short bursts of rapid acceleration, in order to overtake slower moving traffic, were easily achieved and the cabin area remained beautifully insulated against the outside world.

This model was also put through its paces on an off-road course that would have seen a number of more established 4x4 models struggle.

But the V90 climbed muddy banks, remained composed when descending steep drops and ambled with ease through the mud and boggy tracks. The car returned in quite a state which in a way was testament to its off-roading capabilities.

Next up was the S90 D5 PowerPulse AWD saloon in sporty R-Design. This 235bhp diesel car was also mated to an eight-speed auto box and was priced at £41,955 increased to £45,480 with extras fitted. It could reach from 0-62mph in a brisk 7.0 seconds, maxed out at 145mph, had combined fuel economy of 58.9mpg and emissions of 127g/km.

The R-design is a completely different car altogether with its sportier stance and performance capabilities to match.

Once again it features all the creature comforts you could wish for, but the ride and handling has been cranked up for optimum enjoyment. The acceleration is sharper, the responses faster and it can certainly deliver an exhilarating driving experience.

To be honest, the two trim levels couldn't be further apart. One is rugged and ready for anything Mother Nature throws at it. The other is sporty in design and sporty by nature.

But both are exceptionally accomplished vehicles that are packed with technology and as safe as houses.

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