Volvo fills a niche

with new 90s

Volvo S90 R-Design, 2017, front
Volvo S90 R-Design, 2017, front, action
Volvo S90 R-Design, 2017, side
Volvo S90 R-Design, 2017, rear
Volvo S90 R-Design, 2017, interior
Volvo S90 R-Design, 2017, Sensus display screen
Volvo S90 R-Design, 2017, rear seats
Volvo S90 R-Design, 2017, boot
Volvo V90 Cross Country, 2017, off road, front
Volvo V90 Cross Country, 2017, off road, front, mud
Volvo V90 Cross Country, 2017, off road, side
Volvo V90 Cross Country, 2017, off road, rear, track
Volvo V90 Cross Country, 2017, off road, rear
Volvo V90 Cross Country, 2017, off road, front, track
Volvo V90 Cross Country, 2017, off road, camera

THERE'S even more choice from Volvo for those keen to get their hands on a new S90 or V90.

Until now customers could only buy the large S90 saloon and V90 estate car in the entry level Momentum spec and the more up market, luxury Inscription variant.

Now the company has introduced the sporting R-Design range of both cars as well as the new V90 Cross Country model - for drivers who need to go off-road.

R-Design models are aimed at drivers who want a more sporting bias and come with new damper technology which reacts quicker than on the standard models as well as firmer springs and a ride height which has been lowered by 15mm.

In addition both saloon and estate versions have a far sportier appearance with their high gloss black grille and lowered bumper section, 18-inch black alloy wheels and integrated exhaust pipes with high gloss black surround.

The new Cross Country version, on the other hand, features far more changes.

Volvo's first Cross Country model was introduced some 20 years ago and was designed for Swedes who wanted to get to their log cabins in winter when the snow was thick on the ground.

It's a style of car which has remained popular, with the latest V90 Cross Country taking the concept to a new level.

For starters the Cross Country comes with four-wheel-drive, charcoal coloured mouldings on the wheel arches and side sills as well as 65mm more ground clearance than the standard model which allows for efficient off-road work.

It also has a special off-road mode which you can lock in by pushing a button near the gear shift, as I found out when I took one along a deeply rutted muddy forest trail.

It was not the sort of terrain you would want to tackle with your own car but the big Volvo never missed a beat despite axle-deep mud and serious potholes.

Because of the car's long bonnet it was impossible to see what was ahead as I reached the top of some of the steep gradients but by using the on-board camera I could see everything that was ahead of me on the dashboard touch screen, averting potential disaster.

The four-wheel-drive system also includes hill descent control so having reached the top of the hills I could come comfortably down the other side letting the car automatically slow me down, and not having to touch the brakes which can cause a car to slide on mud.

And while the Cross Country is not marketed as a full blown off-road vehicle my stint in the forest proved to me that it's capable of handling all that most people will ever want to throw at it.

As soon as you reach the highway and pick up speed the Cross Country reverts to its normal comfort mode for brisk, high speed driving.

The Cross Country I drove was powered by a 235bhp D5 engine which meant a top speed of 140 miles per hour and 0-62mph time of just 7.5 seconds, showing that this car offers the best of both worlds.

It's also available with Volvo's D4 engine, which gives you 190bhp, a 0-62mph time of 8.8 seconds and top speed of 139mph. Both models promise an average of between 53-54 mpg.

On the highway you certainly feel as if you are sitting higher in the Cross Country than in the normal model but the ride is equally refined.

On the other side of the coin the lowered suspension of the R-Design models make them feel more planted and allows you to flow speedily through the tightest of bends and corners.

In many ways the V90 R-Design and the Cross Country are two versions of the same car which are at opposite ends of the spectrum . But that's the idea - to give more choice.

R-Design S90 models start from £35,455, R-Design V90's start from £37,455. Cross Country models start from £39,785.

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