INFLUENCED BY THE CONCEPT COUPE AND INSPIRED BY ROGER MOORE’S P1800, VOLVO’S S90 CHALLENGES THE ‘BIG THREE’ GERMAN CARMAKERS
ROGER MOORE, the man who played James Bond and Simon Templar, passed away late last month.
While many will remember the Lotus Esprit that doubled as a submarine in “The Spy Who Loved Me”, the Bond film released in
1977, from 1962-1969 it was the Volvo P1800 Coupe that Templar drove in the hit TV series “The Saint” which caught the imagination of car lovers around the world with its sensuous styling.
Moore actually fancied the P1800 and even bought one for himself, and over the years, the Swedish-made coupe turned into a
little icon in the Grand Touring scenario.
Now more than 50 years later, the P1800 makes a comeback in the guise of a 4-door saloon – the S90.
Volvo says that the S90 was influenced by the Concept Coupe, which was inspired by the P1800. Detailing such as the concave grille and sleek profile of the P1800 were re-applied to the S90.
The S90 is built on Volvo’s new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), which underpins all new 90-series Volvos, including the
XC90 crossover I drove last year.
What I like about the S90’s design is its elegance and clean lines, and despite looking a bit lanky with its generous ground
clearance with the standard suspension, the whole package turns out pretty good-looking. The front end reflects the new Volvo face with the “Thor’s Hammer” headlights, although as you move towards the back, particularly from the C-pillar, you start noticing things that aren’t very Volvo. Go all the way to the rear end and you can’t really tell if it’s a Volvo.
Step inside and there’s a wonderful interior, and this one is really Scandinavian, with rather firm seats and lots of features, the highlight being the 12.3-inch touchscreen and high-detail Sensus user interface. When I drove the XC90,
I mentioned that it would take two days to programme everything and the same principle applies here.
Detailed it might be, but it gives you the ability to personalise almost everything. It is easy to start feeling that these new Volvo
models are highly intelligent and service-minded, trying to give you the most comprehensive settings possible.
The front seats come with all sorts of adjustments and provide good driving position – after a 500-km drive my lower back wasn’t complaining (usually it starts to ache after 3 hours). There’s also lots of space for everyone, including the rear passengers, making
this another potentially good executive car.
Volvo loves to provide good entertainment systems, and the S90 gets an audiophile-level B&W system with subwoofer that draws
additional air in from outside the car in order generate more oomph.
But don’t dial in too much bass – maintaining a good tonal balance will deliver a much more musical performance from the 19-speaker system powered by a 1,400-watt Class-D multi-channel amplifier, with great clarity and detail.
A new feature is the “Room Mode” which allows you to recreate the acoustics of specific rooms, such as studio, individual stage and even the Gothenburg Concert Hall.
The S90 is powered by a DriveE sequential twin turbo commonrail diesel engine with i-Art (Intelligent Accuracy Refinement
Technology), which is a high-pressure fuel injection technology. It is capable of producing 190hp and 400Nm and is mated to a silky 8-speed automatic transmission that sends power and torque to the front wheels. The diesel is smooth and quiet, but don’t expect to sink into the seats though – the S90 accelerates from rest to 100km/h in a polite 8.2 seconds and has a top speed of 230km/h, while fuel economy is claimed at 19.6km/litre and CO2 is 133g/km.
In order to maintain swift response, the two turbochargers are made of different sizes. The smaller one starts working first,
and as engine speed increases, the larger one takes over as the smaller one is bypassed.
The front double wishbone and rear integral link suspension (with a lot of aluminium parts) provide good comfort and easy handling.
But the S90 doesn’t seem to like being pushed in corners like, say a BMW 5 Series, which it competes against along with the MercedesBenz E-Class and Audi A6. It’s stable on the straights though, and highway driving is highly comfortable.
Apart from the usual gadgetry, the S90 comes with several new safety features worthy of mentioning.
Pilot Assist now operates up to 130km/h on marked roads and no longer needs to follow another car. It helps adjust steering to assist keeping the car in the lane. The latest City Safety feature now has large animal detection (no need for moose test here), night-time detection, intersection braking, run-off-road mitigation and protection. The Park Assist system also works for both parallel and perpendicular spaces while the boot has hands-free opening and closing function (kick the bumper to open and wave your foot under it to close).
The Volvo S90 D4 Inscription is assembled in Malaysia but is imported duty-free and priced at Bt3.99 million, putting it in the
same price neighbourhood as locally-assembled rivals.
While the previous S90 may not really live up to expectations when compared to the German “Big Three”, this new model may be the greatest challenger ever from the Swedish automaker.
Volvo S90 D4 Inscription Specs
Engine: 4-cylinder DOHC 16-valve common-rail diesel with twin turbocharger
Bore and stroke: 82.0x93.2mm
Compression ratio: 15.8:1
Max power: 190hp/4,250rpm
Max torque: 400Nm/1,750-2,500rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Final drive ratio: n/a
Average fuel economy: 19.6km/litre
Suspension (f/r): double wishbone/integral link
Steering: powered rack-and-pinion
Turning circle: 11.8 metres
Brakes (f/r): vented disc/discs with ABS< EBD, EBA
Track (f/r): 1,628/1,629
Wheels: 19-in alloy
Fuel tank capacity: 55 litres
Price: Bt3.99 million
Distributor: Volvo Car Thailand