The XC90 SUV saw the first unveiling of Volvo’s new Scalable Product Architecture. This is the second. The innovative and flexible platform underpins what Volvo is hoping will be a fresh new take on its perennially popular large estate car.
In line with the S90 saloon, the V90 is fitted with a 235bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine in the D5. But the bets are that the more popular in the UK will be the D4 which uses the same engine but in a lesser state of tune, giving 187bhp.
The D4 version doesn’t have the power or quite the flexibility of the D5, not helped by the absence of the D5’s neat PowerPulse air compressor which reduced turbo lag noticeably. Even so, the 295lb ft of torque linked to the eight-speed auto box does give you more than enough grunt to keep things rolling sweetly.
Handling is good but not aimed at the dynamic end of the spectrum. For an estate car with composite leaf springs at the rear, this is an accomplished ride although there is a bit of a wallow on some roads. Push it harder though and it firms up, never getting too ‘boat in a swell’.
It’s best, then, to back off a touch, keep things in Comfort mode and let the miles pass, helped by the semi-autonomous Pilot Assist. But then, isn’t that the main reason people will buy this car? It’s not a dynamic hero, it’s a comfortable mile-muncher, and it does it in style and class and comfort.
This is made more apparent by the real thought that has clearly gone into the cabin. There is tons of room for four, with acres of headroom, kneeroom, legroom, everything. Because of the rakishly sloping roofline, boot space is 560 litres but get the seats down and that ramps up to 1526 litres. But it’s not just about the space.
There’s a different feel to the cabin compared to the Germanic counterparts, due in part to the interesting use of wood and other materials as well as the Scandinavian design. Everything feels very high quality and the portrait-oriented 9.0in touchscreen fronts one of the best systems out there. The driver gets a near perfect driving position with lots of options, and everyone else will feel similarly cossetted.
With a claimed 62.8mpg, this D4 clearly has some advantages compared to the more powerful D5, since it too gets the lovely cabin and that new architecture. It doesn’t have the all-wheel driver and extra grunt of the more powerful sibling, but it does give you a lot, for a saving of about £7000. That should swing it for a lot of British drivers as the winter approaches.
Volvo V90 D4
On sale: Now
Engine: 4 cyls, 1969cc, twin-turbo, diesel
Power: 188bhp at 4250rpm
Torque: 295lb ft at 1750-2500rpm
Gearbox: 8-spd automatic
Kerb weight: 1696kg
Top speed: 140mph
Economy: 62.8mpg (combined)
CO2/tax band: 119g/km, 23%