We’ve had the 2017 Volvo V90 D5 PowerPulse AWD Inscription in for review, Volvo’s new 90 Series Estate car. Is it a properly appealing Volvo estate?
There really is nothing Volvo is better known for than boxy, capacious estates, beloved of the chattering classes and passed down like an heirloom. But that’s all changed in recent years.
The new XC90 marked the start of Volvo’s renaissance from maker of reliable and appealing middle class transport, to a proper premium car maker with its own style and classless appeal.
But the new XC90 was just the start of the roll out of an all new 90 Series of Volvos, with the S90 saloon following last year and now, the car we’ve had in this week for review, the new Volvo V90.
In many ways the V90 – especially in this range-topping (for now) D5 guise with 4WD and Inscription trim – is the car that has to bring together old Volvo with new Volvo if it’s going to satisfy both traditional Volvo buyers and those who’ve discovered Volvo is now rather cool.
It needs to offer the ability to lug loads as a Volvo estate buyer would want, but it needs to be good to drive – without being harsh – and offer the same Scandinavian minimalist luxury we’ve come to love.
It’s a tall order.
V90 D5 Inscription Inside and out
When we had the new Volvo S90 in before Christmas we were quite taken with how it looked, and from the nose to the back of the rear doors the new V90 is pretty much identical.
But from the back doors on there’s a very stylish shed attached, a shed which is rather more design-led than Volvo estates traditionally are.
With inspiration taken from the earlier Concept estate, the V90 gets a sloping back window, statement tail lights and a small spoiler. It’s a back end treatment which, to our eyes, is more appealing than the S90 saloon.
But that style does cut in to load space a bit, and Volvo’s traditional boast that it’s able to lug tall brown wardrobes with ease is tested somewhat, with most of the competition offering a bit more space (but not looking as good).
Still, despite a small degree of compromise to accommodate the stylish looks, you can still slide stuff over six feet in the back, and do it without having to hoist it over a big lip. Frankly, if you actually need more lugging ability you should probably buy a Transit.
Elsewhere in the cabin it’s 90 Series norms, with the most comfortable seats in the business, good quality materials, Volvo’s big Sensus ‘Tablet’ screen keeping the clutter away and a general air of calm quality and serenity.
Volvo has also chosen to fit this V90 with the excellent Bowers and Wilkins sound (a not inconsiderable £3k option), a panoramic glass roof (part of the Xenium Pack – see below), heated steering wheel (part of the Winter Plus Pack) and seat cushion extensions.
All of which make this V90 even more special than the already impressive base car, but then over £10k of extras should. But with or without the extras, the V90 is as good to be in as the S90 or XC90.
V90 D5 Performance and on the road
Volvo has, very wisely, decided not to follow the premium crowd and ‘hone’ its cars performance on the track, which suits the V90 very well.
Just like the S90, the V90 is more about comfort than cutting edge dynamics, but that said it’s still a lively estate car which can handle more than a bit of boisterous behaviour behind the wheel.
Key to that lively behaviour – certainly around town – is Volvo’s PowerPulse technology which uses compressed air to spool the first turbo, almost eliminate lag and deliver impressively linear performance.
Just like the other 90 Series cars, the V90 comes with a trio of driving modes – Dynamic, Comfort and Eco – to suit your mood, although Comfort is where you want it to be, even when hustling down a back road.
And the V90 really will do back road hustling, and just like the S90 – and despite a bit more pitch and roll than you’d get in a 5 Series Touring – the V90 acquits itself well in the bends, and the surprisingly punchy 2.0 litre diesel pushes you out of the apex convincingly every time, helped by the D5’s 4WD traction.
Motorway cruising is effortless too, although there’s a bit of pitter-patter in the background, and hard acceleration to join down the slip road is a slightly unwelcome reminder you’ve only got four cylinders under the bonnet doing all the work.
Despite its size, the V90 is easy to drive around town too, and easy to park thanks to the (optional) Park Assist Pilot which is able to do both parallel and 90 degree parking.
V90 D5 Inscription Verdict
We’ve discovered something of a love affair with Volvo’s 90 Series cars, and the V90 ticks all the boxes most owners could want.
Not only is the V90 a very handsome estate car – and a chunk better looking than the S90 saloon – but it’s wonderfully cosseting to waft around in too, even when the back is filled with estate car stuff.
But it’s not some wallowy big box designed to just shift stuff, it’s a properly cool car in every way, with the same stunning, minimalist, Scandinavian take on luxury and ergonomics as the rest of the 90 Series.
The V90 also has decent performance from its 2.0 litre Drive E engine (although we’re not entirely convinced the Drive E engines are any more economical in the real world than a good straight six would be), hitting 62mph in a decent 7.2 seconds (and feeling quicker thanks to Powerpulse) and will probably do 40mpg day in, day out.
But what the V90 also is is a properly classless car. That may seem a bit daft for a car which costs (with extras) the wrong side of £50k, but it’s a car which says nothing about your background, just that you have impeccable taste and are comfortable in your own skin. It’s not a braggart’s car.
And that’s its real appeal.
Volvo V90 D5 Inscription Review Photos
2017 Volvo V90 D5 Inscription Review Quick Specs
- Engine: 1969cc, 232bhp
- Performance: 0-62mph 7.2 seconds / Top Speed 140mph
- Economy: 57.6mpg – Official / 35.2mpg – Test
- Emissions: 129g/km
- Price: £44,455 / Price as tested £54,880
- Test car supplied by Volvo UK
Test car options
Winter Plus – £925
- Active Bending Headlights with Adaptive Shadow Technology
- Front LED Foglights with Cornering Function
- Heated Steering Wheel
- Headlight Cleaning System
- Heated Washer Nozzles
Xenium Pack – £525
- Power Glass Tilt & Slide Sunroof
- Parking Camera 360º Surround View
- Park Assist Pilot – Automatic Parallel and 90º Parking (includes Front and Rear Park Assist)
- Apple CarPlay™ with 2 x USB/1 x Aux. Input – £300
- Sensus Connect with Premium Sound by Bowers & Wilkins £3,000
- Volvo On Call with App £550
- Laminated Side Windows £750
- 4-Zone Electronic Climate Control and Cooled Glovebox
- Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Cross Traffic Alert (CTA) and
Rear Collision Mitigation plus Autodimming Exterior Mirrors – £600
- Power Front Cushion extensions and Power Seat Side Support (inc. Passenger Seat Memory) £350
- 19″ 10 Spoke (Diamond Cut) Alloys with 55/40 Tyres £700
- Metallic Paint £700