Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The latest Volvo V90 is available exclusively with 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engines. Don’t think that means a lack of choice, though, because there are many power iterations. As we said in the introduction, the petrols and diesel are mild hybrids, which enhances efficiency, while the plug-in hybrid offers sustained electric-only running.
Let’s begin with the diesel. It has 194bhp and is called the B4 (D). It’s a torquey engine, so it can pull a trailer without too much effort, but it doesn’t feel quite as quick as the equivalent Audi A6 Avant 40 TDI or E220d Mercedes E-Class, even though its claimed 0-62mph time (8.5sec) is competitive. It’s still a good option, though.
The 0-62mph time in the Recharge T6 is a claimed 5.5sec, but, while it doesn’t feel as rapid as you might expect (partly because the eight-speed automatic gearbox takes time to react, as it does with all V90s), it’s officially quicker than the 530e version of the BMW 5 Series Touring.
The T6 has a top speed of 112mph – or 70mph in pure electric mode – and the official range is 53 miles, which is further than the 530e’s. It is, of course, near-silent when it’s in electric mode and shuffles seamlessly between its two power sources.
All the engines have an unobtrusive stop/start system, but the diesel is a lot noisier when it’s running than an A6 Avant diesel – there’s a slight rumble at idle that seems out of sorts with a premium estate, although that fades into the background once you’re moving. The petrols are quieter but not silky smooth like the six-cylinder engines you can order in the A6 Avant, 5 Series Touring and E-Class Estate.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox fitted to all models changes smoothly, albeit without quite matching the seamless shifts of the 5 Series. At speed, it's only the ruffle of wind noise from the V90's big door mirrors that is particularly noticeable because road noise is kept nicely at bay. So, overall it’s good, but an A6 Avant is definitely quieter at 70mph.
Ride comfort is crucial in family estate cars, and this is another area in which the V90 impresses. If you tick the box for the optional adaptive dampers, which includes air suspension at the rear, it helps the V90 glide along motorways with a relaxing buoyancy. In town, only particularly vicious ridges thud through the body, which is something the E-Class Estate tends to suffer from too.