Thinking that if you want a European Sport Sedan, It’s got to be a Bimmer, Benz, Audi or Jag? Maybe taking a chance with an Alfa?
You might be missing out on something very cool.
The Volvo S90 T6.
Yes, Volvo. Most people think they’re mostly a maker of SUV’s (they make a couple of excellent ones) or don’t even know they’re still in business.
So sure, they look great loaded up outside IKEA with your latest FINNBY Bookcase (who comes up with these names?), but does it have the credibility on the streets with the big boys from Bavaria?
Yes and no –but that’s good.
Start with the looks. It’s gorgeous. And in a clearly unique, Volvo-ish way. There is a family resemblance to the S60, but it’s clear they’re going for a big impression.
When Chinese maker Geeley bought Volvo, they immediately started asking for a limousine – an important status model in the homeland.
Unfortunately, the homeland of Sweden is a bit more sensible and self-effacing, so there was some discussion. We’re not sure who got the final say, but the results are excellent.
There is a simple sleekness to the design. A bit more restrained than other Europeans, but no plain Jane. Our tester was a beautiful light hue Volvo calls Mussel Blue Metallic, and it sits with prominence on its optional 20” alloy wheels. (More on those wheels later). It’s a crisp looking package.
And if you like a little bit of Swedish Bling, our Inscription model features “Thor’s Hammer” daytime running lamps!
Best of all, it’s clearly its own take on the premium sport sedan. During our week of testing, we got plenty of compliments, but were never asked if it was German or British.
If the exterior is handsome, the interior is a textbook in good Swedish interior design. And we’re not talking the FINNBY here.
You’re surrounded by quality, with a combination of fine materials, including matte finish walnut wood inlays, decorative chrome bits and soft ivory leather. While the light leather is beautiful to the eye, we could already see that the seats were picking up subtle hues of blue from jean-wearing journalists.
You’ll either have to keep after that, or get used to the patina – but either way, it is stunning in its simplicity and execution.
Another thing expected and delivered are superbly comfortable and supportive seats – long a Volvo tradition. Our tester’s 10-way power seats were easy to adjust, and featured a power extending lower seat cushion that was a real plus for those long of leg.
There’s a lot of great eye candy in the interior – the silver see-through mesh of the audio system, the twist-n-turn ignition button and silver drive-mode tumbler in the center console– but you’re going to spending most of your focus on the massive tablet in the center of the dash.
If you’re handy with an iPad, you’ll find the interface works pretty well, and the setup is logical. You scroll up and down, swipe left and right, and tap to turn features on and off. There is a learning curve though, and it was a couple of days before we felt really comfortable with the system.
Thankfully, Volvo gives you a thin strip of manual controls underneath the screen for the basics of the audio system – giving us a good, old-fashioned volume control makes up for a lot of sins.
So we’re fond of the looks, the interior is a jaw-dropper, and there’s a healthy dose of high-tech, too. But does the drive also set it apart from the competition?
Do Swedish pancakes come with Lingonberry butter?
Well, one of the tastiest bits of the S90 is under the hood, with Volvo’s most potent offering being a 4-cylinder engine. While that might seem like tough sledding in a field of 6’s and V8’s, the Swede packs the power with both a turbo and a supercharger, giving an impressive 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque at a low 2,200 rpm.
This might be a little light on the competition, but it’s also lighter than the competition, so the S90 storms off with a good head of steam, the 8-speed automatic snaps off the shifts, and you get plenty of grip from its standard all wheel drive.
The four-cylinder is nicely refined, giving a subtle growl when you really put your foot in it – reminding this is highly tuned powerplant. It also reminds us of Volvos of the past – they’ve often been a little bit grainier than super smooth in their power delivery – just part of their nature.
The ride is also firmish too. Part of this would be courtesy of our tester’s optional 20-inch alloy wheels, but also the suspension tuning leans more towards sport than luxury – and we like it.
Although the S90 is a large car, push it hard in Sport mode and it shrinks around you, giving loads of driving pleasure. We also like that it has it’s own Swedish-ness in how it delivers the performance, and that makes it a unique offering in the market place. As they say in Sweden, Vive’ la difference. (Or something like that).
You also feel very safe in the S90 – another core Volvo trait.
The safety equipment reads like a laundry list of state of the art, and we were fascinated by the Low Speed Collision Avoidance that includes Pedestrian, Cyclist and Large Animal detection. (We’re guessing moose…)
The Volvo also comes across as good value. Our top of the line S90 T6 AWD started at $52,950. The leather-bound goodness of super-premium Inscription Package adds $3,300, the Vision Package gives you the very trick 360 Surround View Camera along with power folding rearview mirrors, auto dimming interior and exterior mirrors, and Blind Spot and Cross Traffic Alert systems – all for a reasonable $1,950.
The Climate Package with HUD gives you warm buns all around and a trick Heads Up Display for $1,950, while the Convenience Package ($1,000) adds in Park Assist Pilot and Power Trunklid.
Finishing off our tester was the super sounding (and looking!) Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound system ($2,650), Metallic Paint ($560), and 20-inch alloy wheels ($750). All totaled with Destination $66,105.
We came away taken with the S90. There’s definitely a place in the market for something different, and there’s definitely also a place in our hearts for a Volvo, that brings a stylish, sensible, and so-Swedish sport sedan.
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.