Volvo s90 d4 INScription
But how can a brand that has its foundations set on rational values like safety and reliability, be able to transmit this much emotion?
This was the longest test in Garagem Global’s short history. More than the gorgeous pictures released when it was shown to the general public, what doesn't go out of my mind is the Volvo’s S90 sighting on its presentation in Portugal, last March. It was on that day that this test review really started for me. Its revealing, with Avicii’s version of “Feeling good” playing in the background, still echoes in my mind. So, I made sure I had it ready to play it through Bluetooth on the amazing Bowers & Wilkins sound system available on the S80’s substitute as soon as the chance would come up. And now that that day is already gone, all I can say is that it was absolutely worth the wait. And it couldn't have gone better for me. The S90 that kept me company during these amazing 5 days had the configuration of choice for me. The color that it was shown in, the superb 20” wheels and such a tasteful interior, with a perfect combination of materials, colors and textures. Total harmony on an ambience where we can breathe its flawless assembly and construction.
Sublime and imposing from any angle. Modern design but still imbued with class. Volvo has hit the bullseye looks-wise from the outside. An exemplar notion of proportion with the long hood continuing through its risen shoulder line ending in an almost discreet third volume. This combination gives it a profile almost resembling one of a coupé, where the 20” wheels play a very big part, fitting in perfectly in the S90’s body with its lowered roof line. But it’s in the front where attentions will focus on. The concave grill filled with 23 blades and sided by Volvo’s Thor’s Hammer signature headlights raises the S90 to a stylistic level that, to me, stands out from its segment opponents. Pure muscle. Simply irresistible. I get up early in that long awaited Saturday with the idea in my mind to photograph the S90 during sunrise. I find Lisbon still waking up. The Volvo S90 is the master of the road and goes through our capital city taking all the width available in the lane. For some moments I imagined myself amidst some commercial ad, something that our capital, Lisbon, has been getting more and more used to. I park it just by the Tagus river, and I just sit and behold all of this. Both the S90 and the many people going by it, stopping their jogging and running to gaze at it and give it some extra attention. Even though there isn’t still many people out in the street, whoever goes by simply can’t resist. A few moments later, I’m approached by a taxi driver asking me to lower the window. With the recent events involving taxi drivers in my mind, I was kind of apprehensive. There I was, in Lisbon, in one of the nightly recreation areas by the sunrise aboard one luxury sedan. The only word going through my mind was a four letter one, starting by the letter U and ending with an R. “Congratulations!” Hell, I thought to myself. “Really? How come?” - I replied. “For your car! It’s gorgeous. It’s the first one I see not in a magazine.” With all the reservations gone away, I clarified the situation to the gentleman and couldn’t hold myself and confessed him that I also had the same opinion about the car.
Many were the people who approached me and all I could say was: “I’m so sorry it’s not mine…”. Others, who weren’t open enough to approach me, also weren’t able to resist to take a closer look to the S90. I do remember, for example, a couple catching my eye and attention. They took their time to really appreciate the car from close, both from the outside and peeking inside. They would then try to continue on their way, but the Volvo kept calling them back. I’ve read several critics to the Sensus system that can be found through Volvo’s “90 family”. Beautiful and complete but not really intuitive. I disagree, to some degree, because I don’t find it to be that confusing. Yes, the amount of functions is so big that in the first few days it’s better for us to just focus on the driving and not looking for that one song that you can’t spend a day without listening to it, or trying to put the address for that sushi place being hyped about now. The major upside from Sensus is the car that surrounds it. The S90 is good in such a way, that you’ll just want to spend as much time as you can inside it driving, and you’ll fast get used to Sensus. Simple. And what to say about the Bowers & Wilkins sound system? Gorgeous design and such a high quality, in a total of 19 speakers and a 1400 watt amplifier. The 25 centimeter subwoofer is directly attached and secured to the S90’s body, so that we can get powerful and clean bass notes inside. An experience truly worth of a show stage, a sound profile setting that the S90 actually has available for us to choose and emulate, the acoustics from Gothenburg Concert Hall. One other highlight worth of pointing out is the image quality from the rear camera, extremely helpful when it’s time to park the nearly 5 meters of car to which it is attached. Speaking about cameras, what to say about the 360º view that allow us to see the space available to us in our surroundings, simply displayed in “our” S90’s central display?
Autonomous driving is every day getting closer to become a reality for all of us. Step by step, we’ll get there and Volvo is focusing on that goal. The S90 has part of that technology available, Pilot Assist, a set of features and functionalities for semi-autonomous driving and able to work to speeds of 130km/h. Pilot Assist is able to automatically accelerate, brake and make small corrections to the steering, even if there’s no vehicle ahead of you. I’ve tested it and used it many times. Simply amazing! Still, even though it’s not a fully autonomous driving technology, the system does require the driver’s attention, turning itself off if both hands are taken off of the steering wheel.
Driving the Volvo S90 is one those experiences that we’ll save through our lives, unless you’re lucky enough to be able to buy one and then you can do it any time you feel like driving it. There isn’t a single flaw I can point out, an adjustment that I would make, something excessive noteworthy, or something “out of place”. Simply can’t find it. Luxury, just pure splendor focused on us, people. Ergonomics, technology and safety. All for us. And the seats? Saying something for them is just me repeating myself, saying what it’s already known, but they really are worthy of this repetition. They’re perfect. Beautiful, comfortable and engineered with our safety in mind, designed to reduce to the max the effects of a crash or a roll-over. The SPA platform - Scalable Product Architecture - shared with the V90 and XC90, combined with the pneumatic suspension, is a synonym for efficiency and safety in whatever conditions you’re in. The S90 also has sporty driving mode available - Dynamic - giving some more weight to the steering feel and changing the dampening settings for it to reduce the body roll. Its dynamic behavior really gets a positive influence and feeling, but the driving mode that really lets us enjoy all of the driving experience that the S90 can give, is Comfort mode. Road depressions, speed bumps, expansion joints, all of them are driven through effortlessly. “You can’t really feel a thing” comes to my mind.
Under of the huge bonnet there’s an already known powerplant, the 2.0 liter D4 Drive-E engine with 190 hp and 400 Nm of torque. Coupled with the great Geartronic 8 speed automatic transmission, with fast and nearly unnoticeable changes, matches perfectly with the automobile philosophy for the S90, focusing on an efficient and relaxed drive. I surrendered myself to the use of this transmission in this automobile. Even though it’s the entry-level engine, it gives it enough punch and oomph on accelerations and deals painlessly with the dimensions of a car like this, especially when subjected to this sort of evaluation. So, the rhythm that the D4 engine is able to give you is more than adequate for the new Gothenburg’s colossus. But how can a brand that has its foundations set on rational values like safety and reliability, be able to transmit this much emotion? I’m exaggerating on my words and enthusiasm, you reading, will think. But no, believe me. The joy of driving at the wheel of the S90 is huge and hardly comparable. The degree of precision in the technology available, the excellence and toughness present in the build and assembly are pretty exciting. It was us, humanity, which developed ways and technology to produce and build such a beautiful automobile, so safe and with such autonomous features for nowadays.
Forgive my honesty, but whoever is on the market looking for a big family sedan and does not consider the S90 as an option just because the only options coming to mind are the usual suspects, that person does not really deserve to know how it is to drive an automobile like this. If, on the other hand, the Volvo S90 did stir with up your feelings the same way as it did with mine, just go to a Volvo dealership and see for yourself. You won’t regret it. Not the tiniest bit. Testing and reviewing it was a unique experience. Every minute spent driving it or just gazing at it, made me feel good. Made my love for automobiles to grow even more. I really hope I was able to get the message through to you, the reader. I would be very sad to know that I wasn’t able to show you how good this car is, and how good it also makes us feel while driving it. From 0 to 5, I’ll give it a 6. From 0 to 20 I’ll give it a 21. Liked it a lot. Really a lot.