IN between the various lockdowns imposed across the UK, I was lucky enough to get away for a few days in Scotland which, as I live in the West Country, is a ‘long old poke'.
Fortunately, I had the right vehicle for the trip - a Volvo V90 estate. After nearly 1,400 miles of comfortable and fuss-free motoring, I simply didn't want to hand it back. There may have been tears before tiersâ¦
The trip involved a motorway marathon to Glasgow before a simple 180-mile trip to Craigellachie, near the stunning Moray coast. No matter what weather or road surface was thrown at us, the all-wheel drive V90 handled it with aplomb.
The V90 is available in three trim levels - Momentum, R-Design and Inscription - though a rugged Cross Country model is also part of the range. In the UK, the sporty and stylish R-Design is the most popular. It features a gloss black front grille and lower front bumper section, 18-inch diamond-cut/matt black alloy wheels, dual integrated exhaust pipes, and lowered (by 15mm) sports suspension.
Regardless of which V90 you pick, the powerplant is a four-cylinder, 2.0-litre, turbocharged engine - three petrol, a pair of diesels, and plug-in hybrid. All are mated to a smooth and quick-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox.
The 310bhp T6 officially returns up to 32.5mpg and, in over 1,370 miles of motorway, mountain and country road driving, I managed a pleasing 27.3mpg.
On a motorway, the V90's simply eats up long distances in quiet, composed comfort and without fuss. Choose the Â£1,500 Active Four-C Chassis, which features adaptive dampers all-round and air springs for the rear suspension, and your V90 will sublimely glide over the lumps and bumps with little hassle, especially when the drive mode was left in its comfort setting.
And though the V90 wasn't developed to throw around manic B-roads, it can be fun. Driving over the peaks and through the winding valleys of the stunning Cairngorms National Park was simply exquisite.
The all-wheel drive system gives plenty of confidence-inspiring traction and agility matched to plenty of torque. Volvo calls this ‘Relaxed Confidence' - the knowledge the car will do exactly what you expect and want it to, while also providing a comfortable, composed ride.
One grumble for Volvo estate enthusiasts could be that the latest V90 has sacrificed carrying capacity in favour of comfort and upmarket style. However, there's still 560 litres available in five-seat mode, which expands to 1,526 at the touch of a button. A powered tailgate comes as standard.
Climb aboard and you'll find the cabin is full of lovely materials, from soft leather to hand-finished wood inserts. An immediate highlight is the nine-inch touchscreen tablet, which is in portrait, rather than landscape, format. Intuitive and clearly laid-out, it controls almost everything, including entertainment, navigation and ventilation. As a result, there are only a handful of buttons.
The touchscreen offers pinch and zoom as well as swipe functionality, and you can use it while wearing gloves - something you can't do with many rival systems.
The V90 gets an arsenal of safety equipment. Its features include large animal detection, which is designed to warn you when deer are lurking at the side of a dark road in front of you.Also standard is a voice-control system, run-off-road protection, which automatically tightens the front seatbelts if the car leaves the road, and Front Collision Warning with fully automatic emergency braking, which can apply the brakes if you inadvertently turn into the path of an oncoming vehicle at a junction.
All V90s also come with Pilot Assist, Volvo's latest semi-autonomous technology, as standard. You still need to keep your hands on the wheel to let the car know you're ready to intervene but do that and it'll take care of the steering, throttle and brakes from traffic jams to motorway cruising speed. Its real strength is in slow-moving or stop-start traffic. Believe me, it came into its own on the Edinburgh bypass.