It was difficult to remember, as I drove the D4 Momentum, that this is the Volvo V90 in its most basic form, with the less powerful of the two engines currently available, the least impressive of three trim levels and an on-the-road price of under £35,000. If you had been in the car with me, I dare say you would have found this as unlikely as I did.
The V90 is the second Volvo based on the Scalable Product Architecture platform, which was first used on the XC90 SUV and will appear again in future large models. It also shares the XC90’s T-shaped daytime running lights (a feature I’m still not entirely comfortable with though I’m sure I will be eventually) as part of a very distinctive front end quite unlike that of any rival.
The tail has much more of a classic Volvo air to it, yet there is no visual jolt as your eye wanders in that direction. The overall shape is, for me, very pleasing, and slightly preferable to that of the S90 saloon.
The V90 looks big, and is. Passenger space is remarkable in both front and rear, and the luggage volume ranges from 560 litres (rear seats up, to window level) to 1526 litres (seats up, to the roof) which should be enough for anyone.
D4 models have a 187bhp diesel engine driving the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Straightline performance is as good as it needs to be in a car clearly not designed for press-on motoring. The V90 wafts pleasantly along dual-carriageways and is stately rather than sporty on bumpy country roads.
On the EU test cycle, the D4 averages 62.8mpg. I haven’t driven the V90 for long enough to check this, but past Volvo experience warns me that it may prove tremendously difficult to match it in real life. Still, the related 119g/km CO2 rating means that you won’t pay a great deal in tax.
(For your interest, you can also have a 232bhp four-wheel drive D5, and in 2017 Volvo will introduce a V90 T8 plug-in hybrid with a supercharged and turbocharged petrol engine driving the front wheels and an electric motor driving the rears. It will be much more powerful and have a CO2 rating of around 50g/km but will be an awful lot more expensive to buy.)
As mentioned above, the Momentum is the most basic form of V90, but you wouldn’t think it to look at the standard equipment. Satellite navigation, two-zone climate control, leather-faced upholstery, heated front seats, internet connection, LED headlights, a powered tailgate, adaptive cruise control, an 8″ digital instrument display (landscape format) and a 9″ central touchscreen (portrait format) are all included in the price. The graphics on the two displays are very clear, and quite unlike anything I’ve seen elsewhere.
City Safety is standard too, as is Pilot Assist, which keeps the car within lane markings. I don’t like that system much, and quickly switched it off, but if it appeals to you, it’s there. There’s also the world-first Run-Off Road Mitigation, which does its best to steer the car back on to the road if it senses that it’s heading off it.
The test car had the option of a Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound system, which is quite majestic. A complicated score by Judith Weir that happened to be playing on Radio 3 when I switched over was easily handled, with no sign of distortion during the loud bits.
There are many other optional extras, of course, and two more trim levels, called R-Design and Inscription, above this one, but I’d be happy with the V90 in this form. I like Volvo very much, and have been known to be sharply critical of its products when they are less good than I thought they should be. There is no call for that here. This is a very fine large estate at a remarkably good price, and just the sort of thing I want Volvo to be producing all the time.
Engine size 1969cc
Top speed 140mph
0-62mph 8.5 seconds
Fuel economy 62.8mpg combined
CO2 emissions 119g/km
Towing capacity 1800kg (braked)
Euro NCAP not tested
Information correct at publication date