By Patrick James on 2019-01-05 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Volvo V90 D5
THE days of Volvo estates being seen as huge barges is a dim a distant memory, unless the odd one still on the road inspires a trip down memory lane.
Still huge, but now svelte and sleek, they are outstandingly styled and this latest V90 features high-end new technologies, ranging from cutting-edge safety to cloud-based apps and services as well as the luxury touches you would expect from a car costing around £50,000.
It is huge, with a huge boot area as you would expect from and estate, with a 560-litre load compartment that extends to 1,526 litres with the rear backrests down.
The V90 has an unmissable road presence, with its sheer size and now-familiar Thor's hammer style headlights which mimic, you've guessed it, the the famed hammer of the Norse god Thor.
The firm's marketing speak says the car puts you at the heart of a luxury experience, using natural and simple details to express the Scandinavian heritage enjoyed and celebrated at Volvo Cars since its creation in 1927. They are pretty near the mark.
Models start with the Momentum, from £37,620, which features a host of standard features and mind boggling hi-tech touches, with highlights including, Sensus Navigation, LED headlights and 17-inch seven-spoke alloy wheels.
The inscription starts from £40,870 and upgrades to Nappa soft leather upholstery, 12.3-inch TFT information display and 18-inch 10-spoke alloys, while the R-Design driven here adds sports seats, pedals and floor mats, front fog lightsand 18-inch five-spoke matt black diamond cut alloy wheels.
The more rugged Cross Country starts from £42,520 and has 65mm additional ground clearance, with silver front and rear skid plate and a high gloss black front grille.
There are a number of petrol, diesel and hybrid variants including the powerful 235bhp diesel on this model and four wheel drive is available, as it is on this model.
All are packed with safety equipment, which goes without saying on a Volvo and neat touches include The 360 degree camera helps to make parking easier by giving you a bird's-eye view of your car and its immediate surroundings. The surround view from the four wide-angle lens cameras appears on the centre touch screen and is available at speeds up to 10km/h.
Park Assist Pilot uses sensors to gauge the size of parallel or perpendicular spaces as you drive by them and can then steer the car into a parallel space just 1.2 times the length of the car - all you need to do is operate the accelerator, gears and brake according to the prompts on the centre screen. Your V90 will do the rest for you.
Like the equally impressive saloon, it is built on Volvo's Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform and the interior features simple and intuitive dash layout, with main centrepieces, the large central dial in the binnacle and nine-inch touch screen which hosts the major functions.The touch screen houses Volvo's Sensus infotainment system, satellite navigation, a sophisticated voice-control system, and access to the internet and a range of apps.
The interior is spacious and comfortable and has a real executive ambience feeling with heated and powered leather seats, keyless entry and handsfree boot/tailgate opening and closing.
Additional premium touches include interior inlays, rear footwell and side step illumination, and chrome exterior details plus the host of creature comforts and toys.
On the road the two-litre four cylinder diesel is a powerful smooth and efficient unit, mated to a slick eight-speed automatic gearbox. It delivers impressive performance, hitting 60mph in just over seven seconds.
Delivering power on demand to all wheels, its combined fuel consumption of 50.4mpg and CO2 emissions of just 148g/km attract a BIK rating of 33 per cent next year.
Volvo V90 D5 PowerPulse AWD R-Design Pro Automatic
Mechanical: 235bhp, 1,969cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 140mph
0-62mph: 7.2 seconds
Combined MPG: 50.4
Insurance Group: 36
C02 emissions: 148g/km
Bik rating: 33%
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