(Go Flat Out REVIEW) 2017 Volvo S90 D4: Beyond The Mainstream (With Video)

If you are interested in purchasing a Volvo XC90 and other Volvos, scroll down to see more details. 

Words: Isaac Atienza, James Tagle
Photos: Isaac Atienza

Volvo has really been on a roll at the moment. After the release of the Volvo XC90, which we found out is a great alternative to the mainstream German competitors, the Volvo S90 was then launched a couple of months ago in the grandest way possible. Now that the Volvo S90 is here, and now on sale for the people to experience Swedish contemporary mobility, what’s it like to drive and own this midsize executive sedan that rivals the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class?

Exterior

The Volvo S90 manages to look even nicer than the Volvo XC90 that we’ve been already accustomed to. The wide stance of the S90 makes it look menacing. It’s perfect for mafia gangs especially in this shade of black, in which the elegant and sophisticated silhouette of this car is nicely highlighted. The all-LED headlamps are just stunning, with the “Thor’s Hammer” LED daytime running lights on, you’d feel intimidated when you see it in your rear view mirror. The grille looks slim and wide, and it looks like it would be something from Maserati. Adaptive automatic LED headlights provide safe and bright illumination at night, and can even dim the headlights using its different lenses when left on high beam so that it won’t dazzle oncoming drivers. The side profile is taut and upright, contrary to the usual swoopy, coupe-like designs that many of its rivals are adopting. At the back, the typical Volvo LED tail lights that highlight the shoulders of the car make the rear have a wide and taut stance. Everything about this car’s exterior design is unlike any of the mainstream German competitor’s swoopy and coupe-like designs.

Interior

The S90 comes standard with a remote access smart-key shaped like a card. It’s elegantly designed, lightweight, detailed in chromed and the nicest thing about it is the key is wrapped in the leather you spec your car interior with, and its a very lovely touch. Moving forward, the interior is just nicely proportioned. Simple, elegant and that smooth perforated leather finish. If the Germans typically have plenty of buttons, the S90’s interior is the direct opposite. As a matter of fact, like the XC90, there can be only up to 10 (depending on variant) buttons in the center console, including the hazard switch. The interior is an exercise of Swedish minimalism that is mainly dominated by a horizontal design layout, with the Volvo Sensus infotainment system slightly angled towards the driver. Just like the XC90’s, the interior is beautifully made, albeit monotonous due to the black color. Aluminum accents adorn the interior, while the higher end D5 Inscription model has a two-tone beige interior with open pore wood trim.

Space and Practicality

Up front, there’s plenty of adjustment for the driver’s seat and the steering wheel, ensuring a perfect fit for all body types. Whereas the Germans try to do their best to make an interior the feels like a cockpit that wraps around you, the S90’s interior is more straightforward. Everything up front in the center console is within reach by both the front passenger and driver. The Volvo S90 offers plenty of room for all passengers, even for the middle seat, though due to the transmission tunnel, headroom is slightly compromised. There’s plenty of foot space in the back for all three people, preventing from any fights for foot space from escalating.

The trunk is spacious too, with 500 liters of space, though not class leading, and with a square opening, it is easy to load things in and out of the trunk. Apart from the trunk, other storage spaces include a generously sized glovebox, trays in the center console with a damped covers, and a large door bins on all 4 doors. The rear seats can also be folded down for more space, and there is also a ski hatch in the middle seat, if you are a fool to do skiing here in our country.

Features and Safety

As ever, the Volvo S90 is packed with safety features to the brim, such as Volvo City Safety, which includes pedestrian detection, collision mitigation, and a host of other safety features designed to make our drivers in the chaotic city of Manila more bearable. Making driving even a lot more bearable, especially for those who are challenged in parking, is the automatic parking feature of the S90, which can be used for parallel and reverse parking. Oddly enough, this feature is not equipped in the base XC90 Momentum variant.

Despite being the base variant, the S90 is packed with features, especially for its price. The S90 D4 even includes an electric trunk, opening and closing on its own with a push of a button. Additionally, all rear facing mirrors are heated, meaning should a sudden downpour or moist morning air impair your mirror’s reflectivity, these mirrors can heat themselves up to remove unnecessary moisture.

Volvo Sensus, which includes a 9-inch TFT LCD touchscreen display, and a 12-inch TFT LCD instrument panel, which is able to display a host of information in a legible and easy to read manner. The main touch screen unit, like in the XC90, is easy to use and feels natural to those of us who are accustomed to using an iPad. It uses swipe, pinch to zoom, and scroll functions just like you would do in iOS or Android, and speaking of mobile operating systems, Volvo Sensus in the S90 comes with both Android Auto and Apple Carplay, so whether you have a Galaxy S7 or an iPhone 7, your smartphone will be well integrated into the vehicle, and while doing so, you will be able to play your Spotify tunes into the car’s Harman Kardon sound system, which already sounds excellent to begin with.

Powertrain

With this being the S90 D4 variant, it is powered by a 2.0 liter 4-cylinder common rail direct-injected diesel engine that produces 187 hp @ 4,250 rpm and 400 Nm of torque @ 1,750-2,500 rpm. Power is sent through the front wheels via an 8-Speed Automatic Transmission. Paddle shifters are not equipped as standard.

How It Drives

Entering and starting the car is as easy as keeping the awesome keycard in your pocket from using the smart entry and twisting the elegant knob behind the gear lever. Pottering the Volvo S90 around the streets, and immediately noticeable is how the car feels stable and planted in pothole ridden streets. The S90 does not feel unsettled, and is able to absorb the bumps really well without being floaty. If you are looking for a canyon carver, look elsewhere, as the Volvo S90 has been made primarily for comfort in mind. As with the Volvo XC90, we felt refreshed and relaxed, as we’ve been accustomed to driving cars with firm suspensions or cars that don’t ride as well as this S90. Without pretentions of being sporty, the Volvo S90 lunges forward with less immediacy of a BMW 5 Series, and most people will find that completely fine.

Further aiding its comfort oriented nature is its relaxed steering, because while it is accurate and responsive, provides little in terms of feedback, though it is not completely nu mb, still providing enough messages to the driver as to what is happening to the front wheels. Refinement is also top notch, with the engine barely producing any noise when treated sensibly, and the thick insulation around the body and the sound deadening glass will easily put every passengers into a sleep.

The 2.0 liter diesel engine and 8-Speed Automatic is a great match in city and relaxed cruising, as the gearbox is perfectly refined and shifts are imperceptible, and driving through corners keeps this sedan unfazed despite its comfortable nature. There are no hints of the S90 being boat-like when driven hard. Treat the car sensibly, and you shall be rewarded with great fuel economy numbers. At this primarily city drive, the S90 D4 netted a fuel economy figure of 10.7 km/l in our hands, which is great for a car of this size and power.

On The Downside

However, when the S90 is driven really hard, the 2.0 liter diesel engine becomes quite vocal inside than usual, even more than the Volvo Xc90, though it is still slightly quieter than BMW’s 2.0 liter diesel engines, and just like the XC90’s 8-Speed Automatic, it does have turbo lag when suddenly mashing the gas pedal, and it is something that can be cured when left in Sport mode.

Lastly, I’m not sure if it’s just us, but we find the electronic parking brake’s Auto Hold to be too sensitive and too touchy, annoying even. While parking this Volvo S90 in reverse, a simple and short stop when changing from Drive to Reverse is enough for the system to engage the parking brake, and it does not even disengage when we step on the gas pedal and/or lift my foot off the brake. It’s really annoying, and it made us turn off the feature for the entire time. It’s something we have not encountered with the Volvo XC90, Honda Civic, Audi Q7, and other car’s with an electronic parking brake with Auto Hold.

Verdict

The Volvo S90, as we’ve mainly established from the beginning, diverges away from the mainstream. Whereas the Germans focus on swoopy designs, often button-filled interiors, driver-focused cabins, and sporty driving dynamics, the Swedes look back to their core competency. Like the Xc90, the Volvo S90 does not try to outdo the Germans by being like the Germans. Instead, it focuses on being Swedish to the core, from the car’s philosophy, to the way the car drives, looks, and works. Too many companies nowadays try to focus on beating the Germans by trying their best to being just like them, and just as countless people have told us, just be yourself, or rather, be a better version of yourself.

Price: P3,995,000

More Photos

Our Rating

Exterior Design: ★★★★★
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Quality: ★★★★★
Practicality:  ★★★★★
Features: ★★★★☆
Acceleration: ★★★★☆
Handling: ★★★★☆
Comfort: ★★★★☆
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★☆
Value For Money: ★★★★☆

Overall: 4.4 out of 5

Video

Special thanks to Justin Villareal for taking the video

Special thanks to Volvo Alabang for providing us the Volvo XC90 D4 Momentum. If you are interested in this Volvo XC90 and other Volvos, contact Glenn Janson at (0977) 621 8948 for more information.