Volvo V90 D5

PowerPulse R-Design

Volvo V90 R-Design, profile
Volvo V90 R-Design, front quarter
Volvo V90 R-Design, dynamic 2
Volvo V90 R-Design, rear quarter
Volvo V90 R-Design, dynamic
Volvo V90 R-Design, boot
Volvo V90 R-Design, interior
Volvo V90 R-Design, controls

MENTION Volvo to folk of a certain vintage, like myself, and the odds are that a specific image comes to mind - one of a somewhat boring, boxy estate car.

When we were growing up, the Swedish car maker's approach to the family load-lugger remained unchanged.

From the 245 through to the 850, none of them were going to win any beauty contests - but they sold like hotcakes because they were dependable, swallowed prodigious loads and were as safe as houses.

In fact, by the early nineties Volvo was so synonymous with estates that they accounted for more than 60 per cent of its sales in some countries.

Since then the focus has shifted as the Swedes embarked on a concerted quest to move upmarket and broaden its product range.

The V90, however, is proof that Volvo can still build a great estate car - capturing all that heritage in a premium modern package.

It is a handsome, luxurious, technologically advanced executive wagon that more than holds its own alongside the Teutonic trio which dominate this market - Audi, BMW and Mercedes.

Taking style cues from another impressive addition to the Volvo stable, the XC90 SUV, the lines are sleek and stylish - but an adventurously raked rear windscreen adds extra dynamic flair.

Tail lights which stretch up the D-pillar are a nod to those Volvo estates of old, while the sporty bodykit and 20-inch alloys on my R-Design model add even more visual impact.

R-Design versions also get a lower, firmer chassis and quicker steering than other V90s for more responsive handling and less body roll when cornering.

The emphasis, though, is on comfort and the V90 wafts imperiously along, offering a relaxing and effortless drive which suits the character of a large estate.

Being smooth and refined doesn't mean that it is a slouch, however. The 2.0-litre D5 diesel power pack in this car had plenty of punch thanks to Volvo's PowerPulse technology, which uses a compressed air chamber to overcome turbo lag.

To harness its power, the D5 comes with all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic gearbox and will shift this big estate from 0-62mph in just 7.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 149mph.

The V90 is luxuriously appointed and generously equipped, but with a minimalist Scandinavian twist.

Leather upholstery, heated front seats, LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, powered tailgate and keyless ignition are standard across the range while R-Design adds bespoke features such as powered sports seats, steering wheel, pedals and illuminated tread plates.

The dashboard is clean and uncluttered, with all the car's main functions accessed via the stylish tablet-style nine-inch touchscreen interface.

Rear head and legroom is plentiful, with a host of personal storage cubbies and drinks holders, and overall the V90 a very comfortable and refined environment to travel in.

It is also, as you'd expect of Volvo, a very safe one.

The brand's innovative Pilot Assist system automatically keeps you at a set speed or distance from the vehicle in front as well as gently steering to keep the car within lane markings at speeds up to 80mph.

The automatic emergency braking system has also been improved to not only offer pedestrian and cyclist detection but will also recognise large-animals - should you be in danger of hitting a deer or horse.

In all honesty, it's hard to find many faults with the V90 but what is surprising is that the boot isn't actually as large as you'd think, that steeply raked tailgate impacting on capacity.

Everything's relative though, and at 560 litres it's still more than big enough for most family needs and offers great versatility thanks to a wealth of hooks and tethering points as well as a pop-up divider to stop your shopping from rolling around. The 60-40 split rear seats can also be folded increasing the load space to 1,526 litres.

FAST FACTS

Volvo V90 D5 PowerPulse R-Design

Price: £45,165

Mechanical: 235ps, 1,969cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 149mph

0-62mph: 7.2 seconds

Combined MPG: 57.6

Insurance Group:33

C02 emissions:129g/km

Bik rating:27%

Warranty: 3yrs/100,000 miles

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