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With diesel sales in free fall, the launch of this new entry-level petrol version of the Volvo S90 was as predictable as it is understandable. Called the T4, it slots into the range beneath the T8 hybrid, as well as the D4 and D5 2.0-litre diesels.
The thing is, though, diesel power tends to suit hefty luxury cars like the S90, giving them effortless performance, greater fuel efficiency and low CO2 emissions to please tax-conscious company car buyers.
For example, the new T4 average 42.2mpg in official tests, compared with the 64.2mpg of the torquier and equally powerful D4 diesel. So, does the T4 offer enough elsewhere for it to be the new pick of the range? And does it make the S90 a better car than the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class?
2018 Volvo S90 T4 on the road
Start the car up and its 2.0-litre petrol engine is surprisingly noisy at idle. It’s still quieter and less clattery than Volvo’s diesel engines, but it isn’t as hushed as you would hope, and you even feel some vibrations through the steering wheel and pedals.
Get the T4 on the move, though, and it’s nicely muted if you’re making gentle progress, which is what the S90 encourages you to do. At low speeds it’s a mostly comfortable cruiser. However, crank up the speed and the cracks begin to show.
While the engine will get you up to motorway speeds no problem, it never does so with any great urgency. Acceleration is staid, even a little sluggish, and it does feel quite limiting if you’re sizing up an overtake.
Hard driving also sends the revs soaring and the engine note screeching, and it won’t take long before the automatic gearbox begins to frustrate, because it takes a bit too long to shift between gears.
The steering is smooth around town and offers a usefully tight turning circle, but it doesn’t weight up in corners and even in Dynamic driving mode there is a general lack of precision.
The ride, meanwhile, is too easily unsettled. It does well to smooth out undulations at high speeds, but sharp imperfections send bumps and thumps shuddering through the chassis, even in our test car which was fitted with relatively small 18in wheels.
2018 Volvo S90 interior
These days, Volvo interiors tend to be among the best around, and the S90 is an example of this. There’s a pleasing feel of luxury and robustness to everything you touch, while the large and responsive touchscreen infotainment system adds to the wow factor.
To complete the package, all that style is complimented by an interior that is one of the most spacious in the class, ensuring driver and passengers can travel in true comfort, with plenty of space for bags in the boot.
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