Volvo S90 review

Category: Luxury car

Section: Performance & drive

Available fuel types:hybrid
Available colours:
Volvo S90 2018 RHD rear left cornering
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RRP £55,305What Car? Target Price from£51,079
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

If you're scanning the brochure, Volvo's T8 plug-in hybrid engine (PHEV) is branded 'Recharge'. It comes with a battery pack powering an 86bhp electric motor that drives the rear wheels, and a 299bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine powering the fronts. Combined, that means near-instant response the minute you put your foot down and plenty of poke thereafter, with 0-62mph cracked off in just 5.1sec. To get that kind of performance from an Audi A6 or BMW 5 Series you'd need to choose one of the larger engine options, because even a 530e PHEV can't match it.

Applying electricity also reduces CO2 emissions, even when the petrol engine is running, and allows you to run for up to 35 miles (official WLTP range) on electric power alone. Typically you'll struggle to achieve that distance in the real world, but you should manage at least 20 miles or so on a full charge.

The T8 shuffles between power sources without disturbing you too much. You don’t really notice the car switching from electric to petrol power and back again, and the only real issue is its brakes. They stop you effectively but are a bit grabby, especially in traffic. This is because they're set-up to recover waste energy as you brake, and this process affects the pedal's feel. The same is true of the 530e, though. 

The S90 is lovely and quiet around town in electric-only mode, and a quiet cruiser on the motorway. There's little in the way of wind noise, even on the motorway, and road noise is okay – it is slightly worse over coarse surfaces with the larger wheel options fitted. The A6 and 5 Series are slightly quieter in that respect. 

Ride comfort in large saloons is crucial to many buyers, so it’s disappointing to find the S90 doesn’t deal with bumps that well. Around town, there’s more fidget than you’d feel in an A6, and large ruts send a thump through the car. R-Design trim comes with a lower suspension setup that makes the ride a bit harder still.

At the same time, this large Volvo isn't as sharp as its rivals when it comes to handling – the S90 is less precise than a 5 Series or Jaguar XF. It remains fairly upright though tight bends, but never feels particularly eager to change direction and the steering doesn't provide much feedback. R-Design trim provides a slightly tauter driving experience, but ultimately it's not worth the compromise in ride comfort. The fact that all-four wheels are driven by either electricity or petrol does give the S90 good traction in trickier driving conditions.

Volvo S90 2018 RHD rear left cornering

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