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What is the Volvo S90?

The Volvo S90 is a large executive saloon, and sister car to the Volvo V90 estate.

Available with petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid power, as with all Volvos the S90 puts a great deal of emphasis on safety and favours a comfortable, relaxing driving experience over sporty performance.

Rival models include the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, the Lexus ES and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

At-a-glance 2019 Volvo S90 specs

  • Top speed: 130-155mph
  • 0-62mph: 5.1-8.7 seconds
  • Fuel economy 33.2-117.7mpg
  • Emissions: 49-157g/km CO2
  • Boot space: 500 litres

Which versions of the Volvo S90 are available?

The Volvo S90 is sold only as a classic four-door saloon car – though the V90 is essentially the same vehicle in the form of an estate, and the XC90 is the equivalent Volvo SUV.

There’s not a huge choice of trim levels, but they are all well equipped and cover a broad range of needs.

Entry point is Momentum, which has everything a typical business buyer is likely to need.

R-Design is the sporty one, with big wheels, more aggressive bodywork and sculpted seats.

Meanwhile, Inscription piles on the luxury, with additional chrome, lots of leather and Comfort seats.

Engine choice is similarly sparse but effective. Petrol options are the 190hp T4 and the 250hp T5, mirrored by the 190hp D4 and 235hp D5 diesel options – the latter fitted with all-wheel drive.

All are mere 2.0-litre four-cylinder units, combined as standard with an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

At the top of the range, with its own Pro spec R-Design and Inscription trim levels, sits the S90 T8 hybrid – which you can read more about below.

What is the Volvo S90 T8?

The T8 Twin Engine, to give its full title, is the top dog S90 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

It’s called the Twin Engine because a) it sounds fancy, and b) this Volvo gets a 2.0-litre petrol engine driving the front wheels and an electric motor powering the rears.

This results in a stonking 407hp combined, which is enough for the absurd contrast of 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds and claimed maximum fuel economy as high as 117.7mpg.

While the performance is entirely convincing, to achieve anywhere near that efficiency figure you’ll have to make maximum use of the electric-only driving range, which is officially in the region of 29 miles (it varies with exact spec).

This will mean plugging in the T8 to charge whenever the opportunity is available, which may be too much of a faff for some buyers.

Volvo S90 styling and engineering

Since the introduction of the XC90, Volvo has swiftly developed a distinctive Scandinavian design philosophy that has a sophisticated and individual appeal.

We particularly like the ‘Thor’s hammer’ LED daytime running lights.

On the inside this translates into a minimalist but high quality experience, dominated by some interesting detailing and a large central touchscreen powered by the Volvo Sensus infotainment system.

Volvo S90 rear

If you don’t like touchscreen air-conditioning controls, this won’t be for you. But Volvo has been making sensible evolutions of this over time, and each one makes it easier to use.

The S90 is also very comfortable, with excellent seats and a vast amount of safety equipment.

Under the skin it’s based on the Volvo SPA platform, first introduced as the basis of the XC90 but now used on the S90, V90, S60 and V60; it will form the basis of the forthcoming Polestar hybrid coupe.

Is the Volvo S90 good to drive?

Contrary to its German rivals, the S90 is all about comfort – so if you were wanting a sporty executive saloon, you’re best to look elsewhere.

We, however, thoroughly respect Volvo’s decision here, and appreciate that it gives buyers an alternative option.

And besides, you shouldn’t mistake this for meaning the S90 is a barge – body control in the corners is still good, and it covers ground perfectly quickly.

It simply doesn’t feel as precise or engaging as, say, a BMW 5 Series.

How much does the Volvo S90 cost?

Forget the list prices – the S90 is typically absolutely tremendous value on Volvo’s official finance.

To clarify, this means it is usually significantly cheaper to finance one of these than any of the German rivals.

Want to find out what other buyers think? Read our comprehensive Volvo S90 owner’s reviews.

Volvo S90 Model History

First-generation Volvo S90 (1996-1998)

You have to go a fair way back in time to find it, but there was a previous Volvo S90.

In 1996, Volvo renamed the long-serving 960 range – with the saloon becoming the S90 and the estate becoming the V90.

These are few and far between now, but have that classic Volvo right-angle styling, creating loads of space inside.

So they’re practical. But also inefficient, and not especially nice to drive. Even the most rose-tinted of spectacles will struggle to make many see these as a true future collector’s item.

Want to know more? Then check out our comprehensive first-generation S90 specifications.