Volvo S90 D4

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Volvo S90, front static
Volvo S90, front action 3
Volvo S90, front action 2
Volvo S90, front action
Volvo S90, rear action
Volvo S90, side action
Volvo S90, rear static
Volvo S90, dashboard
Volvo S90, front seats
Volvo S90, rear seats
Volvo S90, boot

IF you are getting a little weary of reading about SUVs and how they are taking over the world, this maybe a refreshing change.

It's a fact that not everyone has joined the high-riding group, or even wants to.

There's a definite niche - albeit a smaller one than a few years ago - for folk who value the refinement and greater security of a separate, lockable boot and therefore choose to run a traditionally shaped saloon.

And Volvo is catering for them with the latest S90, conventionally styled with four doors, a large rear boot and ample space for five in the cabin.

With a price tag starting at a bit over £30k, it's competing head on with the likes of Mercedes E-Class and BMW 5-Series, but with an inevitable Swedish twist.

It's a sizeable car, as the class dictates, but when you are behind the wheel it feels far more manageable and manoeuvrable than you'd expect. The two-litre turbo diesel knocks out a lusty 187bhp with the usual oil-burner characteristics of high torque and slightly gruff sound. This is a four-cylinder, so not quite so refined as either a five or a six pot.

Discretely clothed in a plain suit, devoid of anything remotely flashy, the S90 is immediately recognisable as a Volvo with its bold grille horizontally dissected by a chromium strip piercing the brand logo.

Its appearance is dignified and appropriately executive and the image continues inside the cabin with Swedish-style architecture, natural wood and a general simplicity that lends a businesslike air to the atmosphere.

Driving position and seating is beyond reproach - ample room up front and a similar abundance of space in the rear where passengers sit in a fairly reclined posed thanks to the slope of the rear backrests. They split and fold 60/40 making the S90 more versatile than most saloons. The large boot holds 500litres of luggage.

Ride is comfortable and resilient to jolts so long as you exercise self-control it around bends. Go too quickly and the suppleness of the suspension induces noticeable roll making it somewhat wallowy for passengers.

Steering is light but it has a degree of feel that keeps you in touch with road surface. At motorway cruising speeds, noise levels are near silent - only when accelerator is floored does a degree of harshness creep into the cabin. The eight-speed automatic gearbox is the icing on the cake for long-haul driving, taking the strain out of tedious gear-changing in effortless fashion.

There's plenty of standard kit on board including leather seating, LED headlights, heated front seats, Volvo infotainment system and sat-nav.

When it comes to frugal running, few executive saloons can come close to the S90 in D4 trim. With emissions of just 116g/km most owners will nudge to 50mpg mark on everyday journeys. I was very pleased with an average of 48mpg during the test.

It's good to see the German trio of Mercedes, BMW and Audi being strongly challenged for honours in the executive class by Volvo. Some buyers may even be lured back to big saloons from the omnipresent SUV.

£33,865

1969cc, 187bhp, 4-cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via automatic gearbox

140mph

8,2sec

64.2

27

116g/km

25%

3yrs/60,000 miles

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