Scandinavian Style

OF ALL THE IDEAS WE ASSOCIATE WITH SWEDEN, AFTER THE CLICHÉD FLAT PACK FURNITURE STORE AND ABBA IT IS FUNCTIONAL, MINIMALIST DESIGN. THE OTHER NOTABLE SWEDISH EXPORT IS VOLVO, FAMED FOR STURDINESS AND SAFETY. NOW VOLVO HAS COMBINED THESE CLEAN FORMS WITH ITS SAFE AND PRACTICAL ETHOS INTO THE NEW AND RATHER LOVELY S90 & V90


When seeking a large saloon or estate car, many would turn initially to the three large German manufacturers. You know the brands: their cars dominate the outside lane of the motorway in a purposeful manner. The game is now changing and Volvo has just entered the arena with its first serious competitor, the S90 saloon and V90 estate (V for versatility). Carrying forward its new design language - which it confidently applied to the larger XC90 – the S90 and V90 carry the unfussy and delicately curved flanks beneath a tight shoulder line. The large concave grill and ‘Thor hammer’ lights which dominate the front are undoubtedly its finest features. Toward the tail, that shoulder gently falls and the boot lids carry their distinctive lighting either side of the simple Volvo lettering. If we were to describe this new Volvo in just one word, it would be handsome.

The clean design extends to the interior and the simple shapes with careful use of open-grain walnut, attractive leather and clear main screen provide a tactile and restful environment. The multi-function display does take some getting used to but ensures buttons and switches don’t clutter the facia. The cabin is positively cavernous, and both body shapes have considerable boots: ideal for bringing home furniture (flat packed or otherwise). Currently there are two trim levels, the entry Momentum and luxury Inscription, with sportier R-Design due shortly. Both are delivered with an exceptional list of equipment as standard and as one would expect from any Volvo, much concerns safety. All are fitted with Pilot Assist, a semi-autonomous drive technology which takes care of steering, throttle and brakes. It doesn’t require a vehicle in front to follow but does demand an element of steering input (and alarms if it considers the driver is not engaging with the car) but is ideal for relaxed motorway work. A world first is run-off road mitigation, which applies corrective steering should it consider you are about to leave the road. And in addition to identifying people and vehicles, City Safety now encompasses large animal detection (“everything from a small deer upwards”).

The S90 and V90 are presently offered with two versions of Volvo’s clever Drive-E diesel engine with a plug-in hybrid due next year. Both D4 and D5 diesels provide ample shove via the smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox. Despite the car’s dimensions - it is wider than a Bentley Flying Spur and almost as long – it is an easy drive. In standard form it is well-mannered but the optional air suspension adds notable refinement when road surfaces are poor.

Volvo has evolved: the step change for the brand is that safety is now considered implicit. And the focus on clean Swedish design and fine build quality puts the S90 and V90 into a very desirable space indeed.


To read more from Andrew visit www.motorwriter.com