Most people would dismiss a Volvo estate for the image they were unfortunately accustomed to in the past, but take a look at the V90 and you will see that it is an incredibly good looking car. It’s even a strong contender against the BMW 5-Series Touring and Audi A6 Avant.
It is also one of the best-looking Volvos in years, taking clear styling cues from the XC90 SUV, with Volvo trying to move away from the boring image of estates like the V70 in favour of new customers, while remaining true to its spacious roots. The V90 is a colossal step up from the old V70 – the car it replaces – and is actually an estate you would happily drive.
Three engines are available in the V90, two diesels and one petrol-electric hybrid.
Two 2.0-litre diesels are available in the D4 and D5, which have 187bhp and 232bhp respectively. The D4 has a top speed of 140mph and hits 0-60mph in 8.2 seconds, which really should be enough performance for most people. The D5 has a top speed of 145mph and completes the 0-60mph sprint in 6.9 seconds.
For those wanting the ultimate in performance, the T8 Twin Engine hybrid is definitely the one to go for. Combining a 2.0-litre petrol engine with an electric motor, the T8 produces 401bhp. With a top speed of 155mph and a 0-60mph time of 4.7 seconds, it certainly can provide performance thrills.
No manual is available on the V90, with an eight-speed Geartronic automatic gearbox being the exclusive gearbox.
Ride and Handling
Volvo hasn’t always been known for providing the best driving experiences, and the V90 is no exception, as it is quite clearly the weakest link in the V90’s armour. The handling is also too light for a car of this size, and even after a week of driving we still didn’t adjust to the V90’s steering.
The ride, however, is impressive. Over long distances it’s an extremely comfortable cruiser, although it is not so pleasant in town because of a gearbox which doesn’t always ensure a smooth power delivery.
The V90 does come with Volvo’s impressive Pilot Assist, an adaptive cruise control system that is up there with one of the best we’ve tested. It’s great in slow-traffic on those inevitably painful commutes, as it does the accelerating, steering and braking all for you.
Interior and equipment
The V90’s cabin is a great place to be. It is much more stylish than the interiors you get in the likes of an Audi or BMW, which while luxurious, aren’t as exciting.
Volvo has added some great Scandinavian flair into the design of the V90. It is elegant and well thought through and the quality is also up there with any of its German stablemates. Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system is central to the interior, managing the car’s settings and everyday features like air-con, as well as its clear satellite-navigation.
The V90 is a very well equipped car, as even the entry-level Momentum spec models come with LED headlights, rear park assist, leather upholstery and a nine-inch touchscreen which includes Sensus connect technology. As you would expect from a Volvo, it comes laden with safety equipment including the aforementioned Pilot Assist adaptive cruise control, as well as road-sign information and driver alert control. Volvo has certainly been generous on the safety front.
While the V90 may not be quite as spacious as Volvo estates in the past, it remains an extremely practical car. The stylistic sloping roof line may lose a few litres of boot space, but it’s a sacrifice worth paying, especially as most people would never notice the tiny amount of missing room. The V90 does still have a large boot though, with 560 litres with all the seats in place and 1,526 with the rear seats folded, although the figures are still less than all of its key rivals.
The V90 is competitively priced compared to its rivals, starting at just under £36,000 for the D4, similar to that of the Audi A6 Avant and Mercedes E-Class Estate, although it undercuts the BMW 5-Series Touring by about £1,500.
An attraction to the V90 though is the running costs. The 2.0-litre diesel D4 emits just 119g/km of CO2 and returns a claimed 62.8mpg on the combined cycle. Although, if you have slightly deeper pocket and care about keeping running costs down, the hybrid T8 is definitely the one to go for. It has a claimed range of 141.2mpg thanks to its electrification, while it also qualifies for the government’s plug-in car grant, as a result of emissions of just 46g/km.
The T8 is definitely a good option for company car drivers although the initial cost price over the D4 will put off many private buyers.
Volvo has been known for its estates for years, but always struggled with an image problem around them. The V90 changes this with its striking design and elegant interior, which is now a genuine rival to Mercedes, Audi and BMW estates.
The only thing which particularly lets the V90 down is the drive. The handling and road dynamics are not as good as those from BMW or Mercedes, which may put off some buyers. Although, for those wanting something a bit different, the V90 makes a classy and practical option.