Car review: Volvo S90

German rivals, watch your back!

Globally speaking, Volvo is doing very well. In South Africa, however, there are still a few issues which affect sales. According to Volvo Car South Africa’s MD, Greg Maruszewski, these reasons include customer service and the perception of poor residual value (which he says the numbers don’t support but “perception is reality”) so Volvo Cars South Africa is stepping it up with their new finance offering and Volvo insurance. Let’s not forget the XC90 which has changed the face of Volvo and which was named Women on Wheels Car of the Year in 2015 and it’s greener sibling, the Volvo XC90 T8,  took the Green Car of the year award for 2016. Now enter the Volvo S90!

Why you ask, would Volvo bring a luxury sedan  in to South Africa when this segment is not exactly a thriving one? Well, according to Volvo Cars South Africa’s Marketing & PR Director, Michelle Naude, “Volvo is on a drive to build brand image and credibility – the S90 is the second product in our rejuvenation so far. The segment is notoriously difficult but one which defines the luxury and premium perceptions of a brand. The S90 allows us to continue with the momentum created by XC90 and continue to uplift the Volvo brand and its increasingly premium perception. The S90 also being launched globally in all markets and South Africa is of course included in that where we will be able to offer the S90 to discerning customers who are shopping in the large executive sedan segment and want something different.”

With all that said, the S90 really does offer premium luxury at its best. It is instantly recognisable as Volvo with its Thor hammer lights and concave grille. You will get a glimpse of the XC90 peaking through. It’s striking yet simplistic. I can’t make up my mind about the rear, so I will let you be the judge of that.

Step inside and the luxury continues. When the S90 was being designed, the team started with the vertically-orientated touchscreen interface and then built around it. And it doesn’t go unnoticed. There are a limited number of buttons and the cabin as a whole feels driver orientated and comfortable. The only bit out of place for me is the gear knob, it’s feels somewhat outdated, but let’s be honest, that is subjective.

All S90 derivatives are semi-autonomous up to 130 km/h as standard! Road markings need to be clear and I preferred operating it in traffic, that’s not to say the open road will pose a problem. You can almost feel the fully autonomous Volvo’s around the corner if this technology is anything to go by. But for now,working hand-in-hand, Adaptive Cruise Control and Pilot Assist enhance the S90’s driveability and allow drivers to hand over control to the car in varying degrees of engagement.

Like it’s older sibling, the S90 is also available with a range of petrol and diesel engines. Also on offer is front- or all-wheel drive. All models house a Drive-E  2,0-litre engine mated to an  8-speed Geartronic automatic transmission. We hopped in to the T6 petrol and the D5 at the launch and if I were to pick I would opt for the diesel. It features PowerPulse technology which essentially means it’s smooh and you feel like you’re driving a naturally-aspirated rather than turbocharged engine.

The technical explanation is as follows:

Powering all four wheels and featuring a two-stage, series-sequential twin-turbocharger system with variable geometry, the engine is further augmented by a 2.0-litre tank of compressed air. Available on demand, the compressed air is fed through to the high-pressure turbo on pull-away and under light throttle inputs for instant spool-up, effectively removing the turbo lag that tends to characterise high-output diesel motors. The tank is topped up immediately and quickly after each activation, ensuring another fresh burst is ready to be used, and Volvo Cars is the only manufacturer currently using this technology.

It produces 173 kW of power at 4 000 rpm, while 480 N.m of torque is on hand from 1 750 to 2 250 rpm.

In South Africa, you can look forward to the front-wheel models and the R-Design models later this year. The T8 petrol-electric hybrid will arrive at a later stage.

It’s hard to predict how sales will pan out for the S90, especially when the likes of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the BMW 5 Series (expect the 7th generation soon) swim in this same pool, not forgetting the Audi A6. Time will tell, but I think the German rivals should certainly watch their backs!


Volvo S90 D4 Geartronic Momentum                   R698 500

Volvo S90 D4 Geartronic Inscription                     R742 000

Volvo S90 D4 Geartronic R-Design                        R727 500

Volvo S90 D5 Geartronic AWD Momentum      R777 700

Volvo S90 D5 Geartronic AWD Inscription         R821 200

Volvo S90 D5 Geartronic AWD R-Design              R806 700


Volvo S90 T5 Geartronic Momentum                   R675 200

Volvo S90 T5 Geartronic Inscription                     R718 700

Volvo S90 T5 Geartronic R-Design                         R704 200

Volvo S90 T6 Geartronic AWD Momentum      R828 400

Volvo S90 T6 Geartronic AWD Inscription         R871 900

Volvo S90 T6 Geartronic AWD R-Design             R857 400