Volvo that almost

drives itself

Volvo S90 R-Design, 2017, front
Volvo S90, front
Volvo S90, front
Volvo S90 R-Design, 2017, front, action
Volvo S90 R-Design, 2017, side
Volvo S90 R-Design, 2017, rear
Volvo S90, interior
Volvo S90 R-Design, 2017, rear seats
Volvo S90 R-Design, 2017, interior
Volvo S90 R-Design, 2017, boot

THE Volvo S90 is just about the nearest thing you can get to a self-driving car at the moment.

The Swedish company has always majored on safety, but the new flagship saloon has just about everything.

It's suite of safety and driver assistance equipment comes under the Intellisafe banner and includes an adaptive cruise control system with a thing called Pilot Assist.

This clever gizmo - should you want it to - can take over accelerator, steering and brakes meaning that all the driver has to do is keep their hands on the wheel.

The car will slow down and speed up in traffic jams completely autonomously.

Of course, there is also the usual range of other electronic help, including blindspot and lane departure warning, plus City Safety, which is an automatic emergency braking system that can detect pedestrians, cyclists and large animals in the road ahead.

Added to these is Volvo's latest - and very good - self parking system.

I drove the D5 R-Design from the middle of the simple three model range, which has four wheel drive (4WD) as standard when fitted with the higher output twin turbo 2.0-litre diesel boasting 231bhp.

There are no purely petrol engines in the range. Apart from the two diesels, there is one hybrid petrol/electric called the T8.

All models drive through an eight-speed automatic gearbox and the pairing works extremely well in the R-Design. Gearchanges are almost imperceptible and the engine is very quiet and refined even when pressed - just as it should be.

The gearbox has three automatic modes, Normal, Dynamic and Eco, plus a manual setting. The three automatic modes all work well, making changes to the engine's output and gearchange points for better performance or improved economy.

Normal is the mode most will use much of the time and it really does do everything very well.

In dynamic, as you might expect, gear change-up points and change down points are revised for quicker response and I could really feel the difference.

In Eco mode, the tachometer in the digital dash is replaced by a large economy meter to show how well you're driving.

There is some bump-thump from the wheels at slow speeds and the road surface comes through to occupants a little.

As speed rises the ride is superb and the car simply flowed over everything I could throw at it.

The road holding too is excellent for a car that's nearly five metres long, with well controlled roll and excellent grip.

Obviously it's not a car that is likely to be thrown around by many owners as I did, but it is good to know that the handling safety is every bit as good as all the electronics.

Although the official average economy is 58mpg, I got a real road average of 38, which is still very good for a car of the size.

There's plenty of space up front and in the back, where two adults can stretch out with ease. Headroom is good and legroom even better.

R-Design spec brings a huge array of equipment, including 18-inch alloys, LED headlights with automatic high beam, heated electrically adjusted sports leather seats, a nine-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and a digital instrument panel.

There's a DAB radio, sat nav,Bluetooth, climate, plus all the safety equipment I've already mentioned, and unique alloys.

FAST FACTS

Price: £42,860

Mechanical: 231bhp, 1,969cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 145mph

0-62mph: 7.1 seconds

Combined MPG: 58

Insurance Group: 33

C02 emissions: 127g/km

Bik rating: 27%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles

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