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Volvo's first generation S90 flagship luxury sedan is unlike any Volvo we've ever driven. But is this necessarily a good thing?

24 Oct 2016

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Recent changes have found their way into Volvo's current range adding some real mojo, including a mid-sized luxury sedan ready to mix things up with the German Big Three.

While Sweden has never had a serious competitor to break the stranglehold on the mid-sized luxury market dominated by the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, with the arrival of the Volvo S90, it has.

First impressions

Honest, straightforward, thoughtful and practical, of course. Sturdy, stalwart, rugged and safe, you bet. Oh yes, especially safe. But beautiful, or if that's a bit too gushy for you, handsome? Well, you probably haven't heard those last descriptors used in conjunction with a Volvo in like... ever, until now.

The S90 appears square-jawed and geometric, but in person, it's surprisingly voluptuous

The 2017 Volvo S90 sedan puts a handsome face on practicality.

Where the previous S80 was, frankly, dullsville, the longer, lower, wider S90 has considerable pizazz. For the brand's new flagship four-door luxury sedan, Volvo has applied some of the same design magic used on the highly successful XC90 seven-seater crossover sport utility vehicle.

The S90 boasts the new elegant waterfall grill with its concave slates - inspired by the classic P1800 coupe - paired with the distinctive 'Thor's Hammer' LED lights. Together, they make for a fascia that's both suitably imposing for a luxury car but without some of the outright aggression others have in the segment chase.

However, the Volvo does not possess the effortless superiority of the Mercedes, nor the brutalism of a BMW 'ultimate driving machine'. 

But this isn't something the Swedish carmaker is concerned about as it intends to carve out a niche of buyers who like luxury and solitude provided by German cars, but don't care for certain aspects of ownership, such as the complex controls or the less-than-flattering perceptions of their owners.

Volvo has done what any smart niche player would do - they've created something different.

In impressive fashion

The opulence doesn't stop at the exterior. The cabin shows restraint in its presentation, with the spotlight being centred on the large 9.0-inch touchscreen Sensus Connect central display that replaces switches, buttons and infotainment knobs that would otherwise clutter up the place. One tablet now serves as the control hub for the car's main features. Using swiping gestures as you would with your smartphone, you can adjust your car's climate control, car audio, navigation, et cetera. 

Instead of a push-start button, firing up all cylinders requires a twist of a knob

About the only interior oddity is the start-stop button, which is a knob located on the console you twist to fire up the engine.

The S90 boasts all-wheel drive and an economical two-litre, four-cylinder engine delivering a healthy 320 horses at 5,700rpm and 400Nm of peak torque from 2,200rpm to 5,400rpm, which makes the car very punchy; punchier than say the BMW 535i or the new Mercedes-Benz E300
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Car Information



: $252,000

Engine Type


4-cylinder in-line 16-valve Turbocharged and Supercharged

Engine Cap





235kW (315 bhp) / 5700 rpm



400 Nm / 5400 rpm



8-speed (A) Geartronic

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)



Top Speed



Fuel consumption


13.3 km/L

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