What's the used Volvo S90 saloon like?
Large luxury saloons have quite a tough remit. They have to satisfy the needs of the demanding businessman, eager to make smooth, reliable and economical progress while still making a suitable impression, and often double up as upmarket family transport, large and practical enough to seat five and despatch a continental holiday with ease.
Traditionally the Germans have held sway here, with the occasional Jag to shake the established order, but Volvo has always offered an alternative in this class, too, with this latest S90 proving itself more than a match for its rivals.
Engine choices are a pair of 2.0-litre diesels, a 2.0-litre petrol and a powerful petrol-electric plug-in hybrid. From new, a good range of trims is available, but even entry-level models get plenty of toys as standard. Both new and used the S90 is priced right up against those premium models from the German brands, including the very capable BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 and the British Jaguar XF.
Entry-level Momentum trim kicks off the range. You get LED headlights, heated leather seats, sat-nav, Bluetooth and a DAB radio. On top of that, there’s a powered boot lid, keyless start and rear parking sensors. Stepping up to Inscription brings extra interior lighting, Nappa leather seats and a larger 12.3in digital instrument cluster, as well as bigger alloys and electric front seats. R-Design adds a different suspension which makes the ride harsher.
On the road, the S90’s D5 diesel engine used a clever compressed air system to help the turbocharger kick in more promptly, with the result it accelerates extremely well. The lower powered D4 isn’t as quick, but it has enough shove to move the S90 around, and it’s more economical. Both engines can be a little gruff when cold, and the eight-speed gearbox is a little too hesitant.
The T8 is a petrol-electric hybrid. It’s extremely quick to accelerate and it shuffles between power sources easily. It might not be able to match its average claimed fuel economy figures, but it’s a viable alternative if you’re not sure about committing to a diesel option.
Add to that its comfort on all manner of roads and its motorway refinement and the case for considering the S90 becomes very strong, even if ultimately it can’t quite match its sporty rivals when it comes to handling finesse. Countered against that is Volvo’s reputation for safety, which continues in this car with a whole host of innovative, high-tech kit.
It’s large and good-looking outside and very spacious inside, for one, with a welcoming, stylish and luxurious interior. The driver of a S90 is treated to a brilliant driving position, no matter what their size or shape. Volvo’s seats are famous for their supportiveness and the S90’s are no different, while standard electric lumbar adjustment and seat-height adjustment make getting comfortable no problem. The S90’s steering wheel has a generous amount of adjustment, too.
The tall dashboard is dominated by the big portrait touchscreen, a system that reduces the requirement for physical switchgear elsewhere. It's the same one you'll find in the V90 and XC90, featuring a 9.0in tablet-style touchscreen through which you control many of the car's functions. It's responsive when you press it, but the large number of functions and small on-screen icons make it fiddly to use on the move. What’s left in terms of buttons and switches is neatly arranged and pleasant to use, despite the odd niggle.
Interior space is one of the S90’s strengths; it’s one of the biggest cars in its class. In the front even the tallest folk should find there’s plenty of head and leg room, while someone equally tall sitting behind them should still have space to spare. The S90's 500-litre boot doesn’t quite match that of a BMW 5 Series’ and falls further short of the Audi A6’s. However, there’s still enough space for a couple of large suitcases and it’s practical.