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V90 speaks volumes for new Volvo image

Sleek, slippery V90 dispels the big, boxy Volvo estate image. Pictures: Volvo

Sleek, slippery V90 dispels the big, boxy Volvo estate image. Pictures: Volvo

Volvo

The stylish V90 changes the perception of big Volvo estates, even if not quite the load-lugger it was, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

Sleek, slippery V90 dispels the big, boxy Volvo estate image. Pictures: Volvo
Sleek, slippery V90 dispels the big, boxy Volvo estate image. Pictures: Volvo

It’s a large Volvo estate but not as we know it. The box on wheels – loved by antique dealers and traders – has been replaced something sleek, stylish and very image-conscious.

The new 90 range of XC90 SUV, S90 saloon and V90 estate from that sensible, safe Swedish brand is now a seriously credible alternative to the Germans.

My wife and I have an estate car and for the first time in my life I could see us driving a large Volvo… and, before anyone says it, it’s not an age thing!

Sleek, slippery V90 dispels the big, boxy Volvo estate image. Pictures: Volvo
Sleek, slippery V90 dispels the big, boxy Volvo estate image. Pictures: Volvo

Looks and image

The V90, winner of a clutch awards including UK Car of the Year best estate, is radical by Volvo standards. Gone is the slabby styling and vertical tailgate for an eye-catching design with raking rear end that sets the tone of being more entertaining.

It hasn’t lost sight of the Volvo heritage with the concave grille harking back to famous P1800 coupe while T-shaped ‘Thor’s hammer’ daytime running lights are clearly Volvo’s new signature.

Sleek, slippery V90 dispels the big, boxy Volvo estate image. Pictures: Volvo
Sleek, slippery V90 dispels the big, boxy Volvo estate image. Pictures: Volvo

Under the bonnet

The 190 and 235hp 2.0-litre D4 and D5 four-cylinder turbo diesels, with eight-speed automatic gearbox, are a bit grumbly from cold, but smooth and refined once warmed up. The big-selling D4 has enough get up and go, kicking down readily and making light work of long-haul motoring.

The D5 has all-wheel drive, PowerPulse to wind the turbo up using compressed air for quicker pick-up but costs £6,500 more. The D4 needs a firmer prod of the throttle at low revs but, once rolling, is brisk enough and returned 45mpg running around, 55mpg cruising.

Sleek, slippery V90 dispels the big, boxy Volvo estate image. Pictures: Volvo
Sleek, slippery V90 dispels the big, boxy Volvo estate image. Pictures: Volvo

How it drives

The V90 is all about confidence, comfort and composure so far more engaging and agile than the old V70.

Standard transverse composite leaf spring suspension, rather than coil springs, keeps this big Volvo flatter through corners with impressive levels of grips so it makes good cross-country progress. There’s the option of rear air suspension and adaptive damping but save your money.

The ride is firm for a Volvo but able to iron out poor surfaces.

Space and comfort

Ultimately, estate cars are about load space and the V90 is not as vastly voluminous as Volvos of old, sacrificing space for style and that powered sloping tailgate.

That said, its long 560-litre load bay meets most needs, rising to 1,526 litres loaded to the roof with the rear seats backs flat. And I liked the sprung flap which lifts out of the boot floor to protect small loads.

Enormous cabin space, front and back, and cosseting seats let you stretch out in comfort while the ultra efficient heating system can turn the car into a mobile sauna.

At the wheel

The XC90-inspired fascia takes Volvo’s clean, clinical design into the modern era with an excellent driving position and ‘virtual’ LCD display which changes its look and colours according to driving mode – eco, comfort and dynamic.

If you use a smartphone you’ll be at ease swiping through the control function menus on the large responsive Sensus tablet-style touchscreen which minimises the number of buttons on the dashboard.

Equipment

Less is more with the V90. While the less powerful D4 engine is more than up the job, so entry-level Momentum trim gets leather seats, LED headlights with auto high beam, two-zone climate control, internet access with cloud-based apps, sat nav, keyless ignition, heated front seats, City Safety emergency braking and semi-autonomous driving system Pilot Assist which keeps the car at a set speed or distance behind one in front and keeps it in lane at up to 80mph.

Final say

The V90 changes the perception of big Volvo estates. Stylish to look at, rewarding to drive, it may no longer swallow large pieces of furniture but that’s what vans are for!

SPEC AND TECH

Price: Volvo V90 D4 Momentum £35,865 (range to £50,555)

Engine: 1,969cc, 190hp, four-cylinder turbo diesel with eight-speed automatic gearbox

Performance: 0-62mph 8.5 seconds; top speed 140mph

MPG: Urban 54.3; extra urban 68.9; combined 62.8

CO2 emissions: 119g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 25%

Insurance group: 27 (out of 50)

Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Will it fit in the garage? L 4,936mm; W (including door mirrors) 2,019mm; H 1,475mm

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