Volvo’s largest estate majors on style and safety
- Elegant styling
- High-tech safety kit
- Impressive passenger space
- Good all-round build quality
- Efficient diesels
- Boot isn’t the largest
- No sports model
- Not as good to drive as some rivals
- Pricey high-spec models
- Rivals are very strong
Volvo’s V90 is a large practical estate car based on the same underpinnings as the XC90 SUV and S90 saloon. The Swedish manufacturer has form in the estate car market, having built up a reputation as a builder of boxy, commodious wagons throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s, yet its latest model has more competition than ever.
The BMW 5 Series Touring, Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate and soon-to-be-replaced Audi A6 Avant are all direct rivals, tempting customers with their traditionally more premium badges and similar pricing to the V90.
As ever, though, Volvo can count on a number of pioneering safety features to stand out from its rivals, all of which we’ll go into more detail on in our Safety section of the review
Based on same platform as the XC90
The V90 has been given a solid foundation – it’s based on the same Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) underpinnings as the larger XC90, and will feature 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engines also used by the SUV.
Immediately recognisable are the T-shaped LED headlights and large swathes of the cockpit. There’s a lot borrowed from the XC90, which is a good thing, as it’s a great car.
The way it drives is similar too. Volvo calls this ‘Relaxed Confidence’ and it’s a refreshing change from the sporty pretentions of its German rivals. It’s no driver’s car but there’s plenty of confidence-inspiring traction allied with a quiet, comfortable ride – providing you opt for the adaptive suspension package.
Familiar diesel and petrol engines, plus a hybrid T8
Powering the V90 are two diesels, two petrols and a petrol-hybrid T8 model. The diesels are referred to as D4 and D5 PowerPulse producing 190hp and 235hp respectively, while the latter are badged are badged T4 (190hp) and T5 (250hp).
All conventional engines are front-wheel drive, four-cylinder, 2.0-litre turbocharged units and boast impressive claimed fuel economy figures plus some clever tech to aid driveability.
The D5 in particular features an innovative PowerPulse system that helps spool up the turbocharger at low revs for faster throttle response, and it makes the V90 feel more spontaneously powerful than you’d expect from a big diesel estate.
Coming in as the most expensive engine variant is the T8 hybrid, It produces 303hp from its 2.0-litre petol engine, combined with another 87hp from an electric motor.
Unsurprisingly, it’s the T8 hybrid that, on paper at least, is the cheapest car to run, returning a claimed 135mpg (this is likely to be much lower in the real world) and produces just 47g/km of CO2.
High-tech safety kit
Safety and space are the main selling points of this car but it impresses more on the former count.
You get a 560-litre boot that expands to 1,526 litres with the seats down, and loads of head- and leg-room for all inside. It’s decent, but rivals are considerably bigger and Volvophiles with doubtless lament the absence of a vertical tailgate to boost capacity.
As well as a large Sensus touchscreen in the centre console, which replaces a huge number of functions and buttons from around the cabin, you also get a set of digital dials and a raft of driver assistance equipment.
Standard features include Pilot Assist, which takes care of the throttle, steering and brakes from traffic jams all the way up to cruising speed; plus a sophisticated crash avoidance system that can spot pedestrians, cyclists and large animals in front of the car, day or night.
The Parkers Verdict
Volvo’s V90 has a lot going for it. It’s stylish, efficient and comes packed with some of the most advanced safety kit currently on the market. The fact it’s not one of the usual suspects (Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz) will also tempt plenty of potential buyers.
It’s not perfect, however, with a number of competitors offering greater practicality and a more rewarding driving experience.