Volvo is now making nicer and better cars than ever before. I’ve always been a fan of the brand. In fact, I’ve owned both a first generation S40 and a first generation S80. The S80 was atrocious, but that first S40 is still on my list of favourite cars that I’ve owned. When I first attended the launch of the new Volvo V90 in Spain last year, I must say that I was excited. Not only am I a fan of Volvo, I am also a fan of estate cars in general, so getting to drive the new V90 was right down my alley.
Our Volvo V90 video review on YouTube - Don't forget to subscribe!
At the international launch of the Volvo V90, I was impressed by the car. In fairness though, I only had it for a few hours in total, so getting one to sample in Ireland for a whole week was something that I’ve been looking forward to. In fact, I’ve just been through a three-week period where among other cars, I also got to mainly drive the S90, V90 and the V90 Cross Country. It doesn’t happen that often where I get the same brand of car for three weeks in a row, but I’m not complaining – they’re nice cars.
All the diesel offerings with the new Volvo V90 are 2.0-litre 4-cylinder. There are three offerings to the Irish market. The D3, D4, and D5. To date, we have only really driven the D4 and D5. The D4 is a practical 190bhp offering that will take you from 0-100km/h in a very respectable 8.5 seconds. If you opt for the D5 PowerPulse (PowerPulse aids in getting rid of turbo lag) your vehicle will be all-wheel drive and it will cover the 0-100km/h sprint in just 7.2 seconds – not bad for a big estate! On the road, the grip on corners is very good, but the steering could do with giving just a touch more feedback. The D4 is also available with all-wheel drive.
Still to come to the Irish market is the T8. We have not driven this yet, but at the international launch last year we tested the T6 petrol engine on which the T8 is based. Unfortunately, the T6 is not coming to Ireland (if Volvo changes their mind, we’ll let you know!).
Our Volvo V90 Cross Country review on YouTube
We also managed to test drive the Volvo V90 Cross Country. This came with the 235hp D5 engine and it was excellent on the road. It sits higher than the normal V90 by 65mm, which results in a more commanding view of what's in front of you. The suspension was smoother than I thought it would be, and the more powerful engine adds a nice bit of grunt. While we did do a small bit of off-roading in this machine, there was nothing too challenging about our route. However, I have been told by a few motoring journalist colleagues that the V90 Cross Country is a very capable off-roader. In fact, they’ve said it was surprisingly good.
The Volvo V90 estate is not like the estates of old from Volvo. Remember the boxy boot of the 850 estate? Or the 240 GL? They had these straight-line, boxed-off, boots. Well, the new Volvo V90 is a little more curvaceous, and while the style is excellent, the 500-litre boot isn’t as practical as what the brand used to offer. That said, the boot is still good, and it was time for Volvo to shake off the boxy image long ago. Other estates that offer better boot space include the likes of the excellent Skoda Superb. For a bit of perspective against the main rivals, BMW’s 5 Series Touring is set to offer 560-litres of boot space, while Audi’s A6 offers 565-litres.
Inside, there is plenty of space for five adults. The only obstacle in the way is a large transmission tunnel to the rear. The middle adult will have to make do with putting their feet either side of it. Head room is very good, while the front cabin is brilliantly comfortable. I drove the car with two booster seats to the rear. Unfortunately I did not have access to a third seat to see if three would fit – although, I have shoved them into cars smaller than this – so this for me was a good family wagon.
The Volvo V90, and the rest of the new 90 Series, comes with a 9-inch Sensus infotainment system. This system looks great, and is nearly brilliant. I say “nearly” because, it takes a lot of getting used to. As I said, I had the V90, the S90 and the V90 Cross Country all over a three-week period, and I’m still getting used to it. The system gives you some excellent data, and if you mate it to the bulletproof (it’s made using Kevlar!) Bowers and Wilkins speaker system, then your ears are in for an audible treat.
All-in, I really like all the new 90 Series cars that I have driven. The V90 offers great practicality, is comfortable, and stylish to boot. Prices for the D3 Volvo V90 start from €46,650. The D4 range starts from €48,650 (this is the engine I’d be looking at – it suits my needs), while the D5 starts from €59,150. While this car may not be as engaging as the BMW 5 Series or the Audi A6, I am finding it difficult to understand why it's not selling higher volumes in Ireland. It's not far off the competition, and looks fresh on the roads.