We’ve had the 2017 Volvo S90 in for review and road test, with the entry-level Momentum trim and the base D4 diesel engine with 187bhp.
Devoid of any real ‘flash’, the 90 Series Volvos instead offer modern design and Scandinavian chic, with a real focus on delivering a balance of ride and dynamics which is a much more pragmatic and, for most of the time, appealing mix than most of the competition.
We’ve had a fair few 90 Series Volvos in for review since the XC90 first arrived, and we’ve struggled to find any real reason not to recommend anyone looking for a car in the same class to make sure the Volvo’s near the top of their list.
But there’s nothing quite like reviewing the real entry-level car in any range to discover exactly what is at the root of a car’s appeal, so this week we’ve got in the very bottom of the range S90 – the D4 diesel with Momentum trim.
Can a ‘basic’ S90 hold real appeal?
S90 D4 Momentum Inside and out
The joy of the new S90 is that it doesn’t try to hard to be glitzy, with bangles and baubles to shout its ‘Premium’ status. It’s just a cool looking car, inside and out.
Yes, we still think the back end of the S90 is its weakest design feature, but the more we live with it the less we dislike it.
Even the pauper-spec 17″ wheels don’t detract from the visual appeal, and the more understated black grille helps the S90 look elegant and purposeful at the front.
Inside, despite the lower rent leather Volvo uses on the Momentum spec cars, it’s still delightfully Scandi cool, with seats which really are so easy to get comfortable in, elegant simplicity, lots of room front and back and the very good (yes it is) Sensus tablet screen as intact in the Momentum as it is in the Inscription Pro.
Also present and correct is Sensus Connect for online stuff, Climate with Cleanzone, 8″ driver’s display (this car has been optioned with the 12.3″ version), heated front seats and lots of safety stuff including City Safe, Runoff Road Protection and Pilot Assist with Adaptive Cruise.
Volvo has thrown a few extras on the spec of this review car with Winter Pack, Family Pack and Intellisafe Surround, as well as Volvo On Call and Keyless, all of which are nice (and have added £3,400 to the £33,865 price) which, although nice to have, aren’t needed to make the S90’s spec bearable.
This may be a lowly spec Momentum, but there’s a lot in the price.
Performance and on the road
This is the least powerful diesel engine you can get in the S90, with the D4’s 2.0 litre delivering 188bhp and 295lb/ft of torque.
It’s not a huge amount for a relatively big car, but the torque does allow you to ride a gentle wave a lot of the time, and there are enough horses to get a shake on if you need to.
We’re still not entirely convinced downsizing to 2.0 litres is the best way to go, but Volvo’s engine is a willing workhorse, and most of time it’s quiet and refined and almost unheard.
If you need to zip past something a bit sharpish – or are looking to merge in to fast-flowing motorway traffic – it can get a bit vocal (and it’s not an enticing noise) but it’s for very short periods of time.
But even though the S90 will get a shake on when you need it, and is almost capable of raising the start of a smile on a hustling back road jaunt, it’s really not what it’s all about.
What Volvo has sensibly, and cleverly, done with the 90 Series of cars is make them a delight to ride in – for driver and passengers – and this Momentum spec car is amongst the best in that area we’ve driven.
That’s no doubt helped by the extra rubber height on the ‘low rent’ 17″ wheels, but it really does carry you along quite sublimely, dealing with ridges and holes with assurance and composure.
S90 D4 Momentum Verdict
If you’re looking for a car at the cutting edge of dynamics, or one which shouts its ‘Premium’ status from the rooftops, the Volvo S90, especially in D4 Momentum spec, isn’t the car for you.
But for buyers – and, perhaps especially, business buyers – the S90 Momentum offers an enticing blend of abilities we’re not sure any other car in its class offers.
The entry-level price of around £33k puts this S90 head-to-head with entry-level 5-Series, A6 and XF models, but it comes with a healthy spec and, as you would expect from Volvo, a chunk of very good safety systems.
But what it offers more than anything is a brilliant blend of comfort and usability; it’s a car you could happily drive all day and get out feeling fresh and relaxed.
For owners/drivers who clock up the miles, that’s worth far more than Nurburgring-honed dynamics to let you tackle the B-road blat with more vigour, but leave you a bit shaken the rest of the time.
No longer a ‘Premium Pretender’, Volvo has done a terrific job of pitching the abilities of the s90 bang-on for a market swamped with dynamic divas, and struck a win for a more sensible and pragmatic set-up in the process.
If you’re in the market for a car in this class, the S90 D4, even in lowly Momentum spec, is an option you really should explore.
2017 Volvo S90 D4 Momentum Review Quick Specs
- Engine: 1969cc, 188bhp
- Performance: 0-62mph 8.2 seconds / Top Speed 140mph
- Economy: 64.2mpg – Official / 37.1mpg – Test
- Emissions: 116g/km
- Price: £33,865 / Price as tested £37,265
- Test car supplied by Volvo UK