Volvo S90 Driven


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Ting-Ting; Ting-Ting; Ting-Ting; Ting-Ting; Ting-Ting; Ting-Ting; Ting-Ting; Ting-Ting

Day: Monday Morning
Time: 5:00 hrs

You wake up from the bed, switching off the alarm that just rang by the bed, walk up to window, glance out of the balcony from your swanky 50th floor apartment and look in distance and mutter to self, “what a view”. After enjoying the view for sometime…

You get ready to hit the gym and off you go to the gym. One hour of intense workout, after-all CEO’s need to look fit and intermittent discussion on business with peers at the gym, its time to head back home.

You open your home door with a finger print scanner lock to your door, which lets you in. Back home, you freshen up to get ready for work. As you get out of the shower in a bathrobe, you open the wardrobe to choose the attire for the day. Your wardrobe consists of exclusive custom fit clothes, with carefully chosen fabric, textures, patterns and colors. Monday today you think, as you take out your favorite super crisp white shirt and midnight blue suit by Ralf Lauren to match it up a patterned white pocket-square and complete your look a cufflink that you picked up from your last trip to Sweden. You pick up your favorite watch to go with the attire- the Tag Heuer Connected Edition and your to go pen- Sheaffer Prelude, to complete your attire.

On the breakfast table, there’s your favorite breakfast today, sunny-side up omelette with mashed potatoes and black coffee. As you sit on the chair, you switch on CNBC to get a glimpse of the business news, followed by some soft music and enjoy the breakfast. What you have at home is Sony’s latest 65 inch OLED Master Series, paired with Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series Audio System that you got home during your last trip to New York, as you love the way your sound, sounds.

Ting, your iPhone 11 Pro chimes, and it’s a message, your chauffeur has send, which reads- “Car in the Lobby”. Ohh you say, time to leave, its 8:30 on the watch already. You wish goodbyes to everyone home and you step out of the house.

Inside the lift, you tap on the touch screen, which illuminates the floor numbering, Lobby is what you tap on and the lift starts going down.

By now, it is clear that, Elegance and Exclusive, are two words that you love. Everything that you own is either Elegant or Exclusive. And how can your car be different? Infact, your car has to be Elegant as well as Exclusive, just as you, to suit you personality.

Woah hold on.

Did you just end up visualizing this person as you? Did this lifestyle resonate your lifestyle? And are you also a sucker for Exquisite and Exclusive things in life? If the answer to this question is yes. Well what you certainly need to be driving or being driven around then, has to be the car that I am reviewing next. Volvo’s flagship sedan the Volvo S90.

When Thomas Ingenlath, went about designing the Volvo S90, his brief looked like was pretty clear. Design an Sedan, which screams, Luxury, Comfort, Safety, Style, Elegance and Exclusivity from the word Go. Therefore what he went ahead and designed was this the Volvo S90, and dare I say, it is the most elegant and suave looking sedan in its segment.

Now you may say, if the Volvo S90 is so good, why is it not the most common sedan out there? Well, a simple answer to that question is, does everyone around you owns a Tag Heuer connected watch, which probably costs somewhere around 1850 pounds? Does everyone around you wear a Ralf Lauren Shirt, which probably costs somewhere around what 87 pounds. If everyone would have owned it, it wouldn’t have been well, just to say Exclusive, isn’t it.

So what really makes the Volvo S90 exclusive? And why, am I saying, if this is your lifestyle, then the S90, is a perfect car for you, if you are looking to spend somewhere around 74 lacs on your car. To get the answer, lets begin with the exteriors of the car, shall we. Also you may ask, why are we reviewing a three year old car?

Well, Volvo India has updated the car for 2020 with BS6 engines and in bargain, there are some changes to the model. We will also explore that in the new 2020 Volvo S90.

Design Language - Exteriors

In India, Volvo offers the S90 with only one trim and that is the Inscription. That means the Volvo S90 is available only with the fully loaded spec and comes with all the bells and whistles and more, that you can expect from the car in the segment.

The S90, is based on the Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), the architecture on which the entire current line up of Volvo is based on, baring the XC40.

The front end is typical of any modern day Volvo’s. The Thor Hammer inspired DRL’s are the most highlighting factor here too. The differentiating factor being they are more slimmer as compared to their SUV siblings. The long bonnet extends into the front grille which has 23 horizontal conclave slats with the Volvo moniker sitting proudly in between, flanked by front facing camera neatly integrated and well hidden from the naked eyes.

The All LED headlights are well complemented with equally sleek all LED front fogs which double up as cornering lights too. The power lines on the bonnet, though not extremely prominent, but do add to a character line.

The side has a coupe like profile and a strong shoulder line that goes all the way from the bonnet to boot. The 18 inch ten spoke alloy wheels add character to the side profile and give it a elegant stance. What is stand-out feature in this S90 is that the front tires have been extended a little further towards the front bumper, giving it obviously, a huge wheel base.

The rear is where there are meaningful cuts and creases. And the C Shaped, all LED taillights are in my opinion one of the best in the segment. Well, it’s a Volvo, and now apart from being classy and sassy, it has to be safe also. With safety in mind, the S90’s taillights come with EBL (Emergency Brake Lights) & Hazard Warning. What it does is, if the car detects an emergency and brakes on its own to avoid frontal collision or alternatively if the driver stomps on the brakes, the rear taillights blink to alert the drivers behind of an impending danger ahead.

Overall on the exterior, this Volvo S90 screams elegance. It looks exquisite wherever it goes, and there’s a certain Swedish Panache that it carries along with her. The built quality is no doubt top-notch and dare I say, probably the Ze Germans can learn a thing or two from the Swede on how its done.

Now, shall we step inside to have a look at the car from the inside.

Design Language- Interiors

Open the door and you are greeted with well laid out and well appointed interiors. It scream luxury from the word go. For starters, there is leather wrapped dashboard, napa leather seats, with thigh extenders (which only the BMW 5 Series offers) and programmable massage function for the front seats. Speaking on the front seats, they are additionally heated as well as cooled, to keep you comfortable at all times depending on which weather conditions you are in. The fronts seats are absolutely comfortable and finding the right position is not a problem at all with powered functionality for the seats.

The dashboard as mentioned earlier is leather wrapped with walnut finished wood inserts to scream luxury. The centre console is a nice looking vertically slat touch screen, which is common across all the Volvo’s now. One thing that I absolutely love about the Volvo’s has to be their audio setup. The S90 comes with range topping Bowers & Wilkins, 19 speakers 1400 watts phenomenal sounding hi fidelity surround sound system, which probably will blow your mind off. The steering wheel is perfectly sized with the left buttons to control autonomous driving functions and the right buttons for the expansive menus. What however is sorely missed is powered adjustment for the reach and rake of the steering wheel, sadly, the steering wheel adjustments are manual. A powered functionality here, could have completed the overall well knitted package is what I felt. Behind the steering wheel, while you get an all digital 12.3 inch display, but what it misses out is the paddle shifters. This clearly indicates that this Volvo S90, is meant to be enjoyed from the rear seat. Talking of which, lets see how it is at the back.

Moving behind, the first thing that you will notice is the amount of legroom this car has. The only other car to offer this kind of legroom and more has to be the E Class, considering the E Class is an LWB Version that is sold in India. The seats, while they are comfortable lack adequate under thigh support, however the cushioning is soft enough to keep you comforted on those long journeys. The updated 2020 Volvo S90 now gets powered rear sun-blinds along with the manual side window sun-blinds. And a Four-Zone Climate Control AC ensures that you are comfortable in your personalized zone of temperature.

Speaking on the features, there are host of features that the S90 comes with and ditches few from the earlier version, for starters, the 2020 edition misses out on the Heads-up display, and BLISS, that’s Volvo’s patented Blind Spot Detection Feature, but continues to get, all other features like all LED auto headlamps, rain sensing wipers, powered tailgate, hill start assist, park assist camera and auto pilot and of course the level II autonomous driving.

Overall, while the Volvo S90 has one of the nicest cabins to be around, however there are few things, that I thought, could have added to the charm further. For starters, it does not get a panoramic sunroof and does with a regular sunroof, and the rear seats, if would have had recline function,it would have added to the doze of additional comfort. Barring these two things, not much to complain from the interiors honestly.

In Car Entertainment

If you have very keen ears for audio, then look no further, as this Bower & Wilkins designed audio setup, puts almost every other in car audio setup to shame. Even the Burmeister’s setup given by the Mercedes-Benz’s in some of their cars, have no fidelity that can match to the ones of B&W. The 19 speaker, 1400 watts set up, just blows your mind away in whatever you listen. Our co-founder’s wife, trained in classical music, wanted him to buy the S90, only because the way the audio setup sounded. To top it off, there are three acoustics mode- Studio, Concert and Individual, which alters the audio experience basis the mode chosen. Though Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as mentioned earlier are a standard fare, we would have loved to see an integration of wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto at this price point.


It’s a Volvo, and you cannot, not talk about the tech laden safety features this S90 comes with.

IntelliSafe is the hardware controller, that packs all the sensors that control the safety kit that the S90 offers, and the software integration is taken by this touch screen. The list of safety features in this car, can put the best of the cars even in two segments above to shame, forget the cars in its category. I particularly enjoyed semi-autonomous driving feature which included Adaptive Cruise Control and Pilot Assist. There are host of other safety features like, lane keep assist with steering assist, city safe, roll over mitigation, and full led auto high beam headlights, amongst other run of the mill safety features like airbags and ABS with EBD, ventilated discs etc.

Before we crank the car and get going, lets quickly pop open the bonnet and take a sneak peak what beneath the hood.

Performance- Engine & Gearbox

The Inscription variant that we tested, came with the D4 engine. What is means is, that this Volvo was mated to their 1969 cc diesel engine that churns respectable190 hp and generates 400 nm of torque. While these are not class leading numbers, they are lagging behind either.Acceleration is brisk off the mark and the car reaches triple digit speeds pretty swiftly. The turbo lag is virtually non existence and the power and torque is available from the word go.

Gearbox duties are taken care by the 8 speed auto tranny here, which is swift to respond in most of the situations. However, on few instances, I did find the gearbox struggling to slot the car in the right gear, especially in start-stop traffic situations. It felt as if the gearbox was taking time to select the right gear and choosing between various options before picking the right one. That on few occasions, led to jerk moment in the car. Also note, there is no paddle shifters here, which clearly means that this car does not like to be rushed in the corners and loves it, when the things are sedate.

Special mention for the deadening materials used by Volvo for the S90. The engine may sound hoarse and loud on the outside, but inside the cabin, the sound doesn’t intrude much and on most part of the journeys, the SUV is silent. It helps on those long drives, which help you keep your nerves cool. NVH levels are up there with the best in the business too.

Performance- Ride, Handling & Drivability

Thankfully, nothing much has changed in the 2020 Volvo S90. It still gets the rear air suspensions, which ensures the ride is comfortable.  

The handling characteristic of the car is better. Well, don’t get me wrong, it is not a BMW here, or neither does it tries to be, but you need to put the car in dynamic mode to extract sharp responses. If you get what I mean. Speaking on the driving modes, Eco, Comfort and Dynamic. It’s a no brainer that the Dynamic Mode is going to make the throttle and steering responses sharper. However, with the focus clearly on luxury, the Volvo S90 is not the most engaging car to drive in the segment. It doesn’t like to be hurried, however it likes to arrive at your destination in style.

Drivability in City or Highways is good, the 190 hp motor does the job well whether you are chugging along in the city traffic or blasting down the highways and motorways, the S90 feels composed and relaxed in both the environments.

The Verdict

You see this segment has plethora of options. There’s the ever sharp and aggressive BMW 530D, then there is the so called segment benchmark the E Class, the Audi A6 which screams technology, Jaguar XF which screams old school charm and then there is this the Volvo S90.

Well, each of this cars mentioned here, have something specific to them. You talk of handling, no one handles better than the BMW, stretched rear room, no one has better than the E, Tech Laden, with most modern looking interiors, A6 nails it, old school charm, look no further than the XF. So where does really the S90 fit in all this.

Well, its simple. Exclusivity, yes the S90 holds on to that barrel, and I must say, quite well. But whats more to this Swedish beauty is the phenomenal build quality, which no rivals can match, a laundry list of safety features, just to keep you safe on those bad days on the road, autonomous driving package, which though is full proof, but not fools-proof and last but not the least, phenomenal audio system. Probably, the best in the segment. Well, at Motorise, I have reviewed all the above cars mentioned here, each one of them comes with premium audio setup, but none, can match what this Volvo S90 offers.

If this is what you are looking for, if your lifestyle is as exclusive as you, where you love well stitched Ralf Lauren clothes, Exclusively chosen Sheaffer Pen, Connected Tag Heuer watch and an amazing view from the 50th floor balcony, the Volvo S90 is the car that can stand proudly along side you. For that you, the Volvo S90 is a perfect car.

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About Author
Nilesh Sawant
Nilesh Sawant

With an experience of over 3 lac kms of driving across the continents and with extensive experience of driving on the tracks, and passion for technical things around anything on wheels, reviews written by Nilesh are crisp and to the point.  

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