2016 Volvo V90 D5 review
The Volvo V90 is the estate version of the Swedish firm's new S90 saloon. We've driven the higher-powered diesel in Spain...
We've already driven a prototype of Volvo's S90 large executive saloon, but here we're focusing on the more practical estate version, the V90.
Deliveries start in October, but Volvo's order books are open now. The V90 is on offer with a choice between a couple of 2.0-litre diesel engines. The first, the D4, has 187bhp, and the sprightlier D5 that we're driving here has 232bhp. Later, a T8 petrol-electric hybrid will also join the range.
Unlike some premium manufacturers, Volvo has decided to offer just two trim levels: entry-level Momentum and range-topping Inscription. Even Momentum cars come with lots of standard luxuries, and that really matters, because the V90 faces stern competition from the likes of the established BMW 5 Series Touring and the Audi A6 Avant.
What's the 2016 Volvo V90 D5 like to drive?
Volvo has used its new Power Pulse technology on the V90's D5 engine; this uses compressed air to help the turbocharger kick in more promptly. The result is superbly urgent acceleration from low revs, and this doesn't fall away as you push on. It's just a shame the standard eight-speed automatic gearbox can sometimes dither, hindering your progress.
However, the V90 is an extremely quiet cruiser; its engine only becomes strained above 4000rpm, the gearbox is smooth once you're on the move and there's almost no wind noise – even on the motorway. Our car's 20in alloy wheels (a £1700 option) generated some road noise, but only over coarse patches of road.
Ride comfort is crucial in family estates and the V90 impresses – albeit on our largely smooth Spanish test route and with optional £950 air suspension fitted. This clever suspension is only at the rear of the car, but it helps give the V90 a wonderfully buoyant feel at high speeds. The ride is generally composed around town, too, although the odd large rut we encountered did thump through the car. As ever, we'll need to drive the car in the UK to know exactly how comfortable it will be on our roads.
Volvo has certainly taken a more relaxed approach when it comes to handling – the V90 is more like the lethargic Audi A6 than the precise BMW 5 Series. It remains fairly upright though tight bends, but never feels particularly eager to change direction and the steering doesn't provide much feedback. That said, the D5-engined model gets four-wheel drive as standard, so there's plenty of traction when pulling away and accelerating out of slow corners.
What's the 2016 Volvo V90 D5 like inside?
The V90 is superb at accommodating four adults. Those in the front get loads of head and leg room, and the driver's seat and steering wheel both allow for generous adjustment. It would take a couple of very tall people in the front to cause the knees of adults behind to rub against the seatbacks. Squeezing a third adult in the middle rear seat would be more of a squeeze, but three small children side by side would be perfectly happy.
Things are just as good at the business end, because the V90's 560-litre boot matches that of a BMW 5 Series Touring and falls just a few litres short of the Audi A6 Avant's. Where the Volvo does fall down next to these rivals is boot depth - its heavily styled rear end is to blame for that.
Even so, the rear seats split 60:40 and fold completely flat a the touch of a button, which is located just inside the boot entrance. Access is superb, with no load lip, and the V90's boot floor sits fairly close to the ground, making it easier to lift heavy bags inside.
Our test car was a range-topping Inscription model, and its interior quality was superb – easily on a par with the BMW 5 Series' and not far off the Audi A6's. Everything feels well built and there are plenty of soft, dense materials and solid switches throughout. Our experience of the Volvo XC90 suggests Momentum trim won't feel quite as plush, but in general terms the V90 is undoubtedly among the classiest estate cars.
The V90's Sensus infotainment system is the same one you'll find in the XC90, featuring a 9.0in portrait touchscreen through which you control many of car's functions. Crucially, it's responsive when you press it and relatively intuitive – even if some of the on-screen icons are rather small. We'd still prefer to have a rotary dial controller like the one in the 5 Series Touring, but the V90's system is still more than up to the job.
Should I buy one?
The new V90 is a very strong contender in its estate class. Its D5 engine packs plenty of punch, it's a quiet cruiser and it comes very well equipped. LED headlights, heated leather seats, sat-nav, Bluetooth, a DAB radio and a powered tailgate are just some of the luxuries featuring as standard on both trim levels. In the form we tested, the V90 is also comfortable and classy inside but, perhaps most importantly, it's among the most spacious estates on the market.
True, the 5 Series Touring is better to drive, while at the same time offering a slicker infotainment system, a similarly classy interior and just as much boot space. On the other hand, the A6 Avant has a marginally bigger boot, and for a similar price and only slighty higher CO2 emissions, you can have it with a super-smooth V6 diesel engine.
Still, the V90 D5 is easily worthy of a four-star rating. In fact, the smaller-wheeled, cheaper-trimmed, lower CO2-emitting Momentum D4 version could score even higher marks.
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What Car? says...
Rated 4 out of 5
2016 Volvo V90 D5 Inscription
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
Price from £41,555
Torque 354lb ft
Top speed 149mph
Fuel economy(official) 57.6mpg
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