2017 Volvo S90 Review Review

The 2017 Volvo S90 has been tested by a few of the major magazines. What do they think?

Volvo's forthcoming S90 saloon. Image: turbo.fr
Volvo’s forthcoming S90 saloon. Image: turbo.fr

Car and Driver are impressed with the car despite its lack of a V6 let alone a V8. The car is up against this lot: ” the BMW 5-series and the Mercedes-Benz E-class—both of which are new for 2017. Other competitors (in order of sales for calendar year 2015) are the Hyundai Genesis, Lexus GS, Audi A6, Cadillac CTS, Jaguar XF, Infiniti Q70, and Acura RLX.” They conclude that the S90 is “solid, comfortable, beautiful, and practical and should make Volvo a player in the mid-luxury segment for the first time in a long while”. Edmunds concludes “With sharp style, hallmark Swedish ergonomics and potentially a plug-in hybrid model, the 2017 Volvo S90 promises a compelling alternative to traditional German and Japanese luxury midsize sedans”.

2017 Volvo S90: caranddriver.com
2017 Volvo S90: caranddriver.com

Vicky Parrott at Autocar sums the entry-level model up as “less poised than some rivals but still a thoroughly compelling and recommendable thing”. As it’s a UK site, there is the usual faint praise (it is not a sports car, after all): “Properly compelling, in a way that you might not expect an executive saloon to be. Everything, from the eye-catching design and the novel twist-and-go starter mounted between the front seats to the Swedish flag stitched into the leather, speaks of this being a bit different to the aforementioned rivals. And proud to be different.” Autocar does manage this final line: “Volvo is back, then, and this time it’s brought the ‘want one’ factor.” And I note the car weighs 1680 kg, which is staggering. Is there not a way to keep the weight below 1500kg in the year 2016 (or 2017)?

Paul Horrell at TopEvans has his text chopped up into a Q&A-style article so it’s indigestible. I couldn’t stick it. Imagine hiring Paul Horrell and slicing his text into a crib sheet. I really dislike that tired old format.

AutoExpress ask if BMW and Mercedes should be worrried? No, as all they can do is suggest buyers of the usual suspects give the car “serious” consideration: “Volvo is right to deny UK buyers the T6, because a four-cylinder turbocharged petrol executive saloon of this size would sell in tiny numbers. However, there’s plenty of promise in the S90 package as a whole, and we’re not about to revise the view, gleaned from that winter drive a few months back, that you should give Volvo’s new flagship saloon serious consideration if you’re in the market for a 5 Series, A6 or E-Class.”

About the driving: “The S90 T6 acquitted itself pretty well on the roads of Volvo’s Spanish launch venue, with a few caveats. In the most part, the chassis set-up is set on the comfortable, relaxing side of capable – which, you could argue, is precisely where a Volvo should be. It doesn’t try to feel as agile as a BMW 5 Series or a Jaguar XF; instead, it focuses on being a refined cruiser, and while that does mean a bit of extra body lean in corners, it’s composed enough for all but the most enthusiastic of drivers.”

Body lean? They make it sound like a 1975 Renault 16. They also note that in the UK market a lot of engines and trim packages that will be sold elsewhere will be unavailable. That is a bad thing as more choice means more sales. So, in advance I predict the S90 will not really worry BMW but not because it’s a bad car but because Volvo have decided that they won’t commit to offering much by way of variety. This is like opening a restaurant with four dishes when everyone else has a menu of 56 items.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

6 thoughts on “2017 Volvo S90 Review Review”

  1. I’d go out and order a V90 today if they had something more appealing than a 180bhp FWD 4 pot diesel or 220bhp AWD 4 pot diesel for my £40K+. Our old V70 T5 family bus has finally gone to the knackers yard and we bought a new XC60 D5 AWD as the last possible chance to buy a 5 pot Volvo. Sad I know.

    The 5 cylinder engines gave them that little bit of uniqueness and interest that often times the cars simply wouldn’t have possessed without it. That extra cylinder makes a bigger difference to power delivery and engine character than you’d expect. It’d be a good fit for the new and genuinely quite interesting cars they actually have to sell now! The marvellous 3.0 turbo I6 would be a super powerplant for the S90 too.

    1. I noticed that a fifth cylinder gave supposedly middle ranking cars like Lancia, Acura and Volvo some identity. I know the 2.4 litre 5 was a pleasing unit for the S70 of yore. Maybe you should try the S90 anyway and see if you notice anything. I suspect that these days it must be harder to detect differences like that: engines are all smoother now.

    2. I daresay that I will try one, I’d probably find the turbo and supercharged I4 petrol with 320bhp they badge as a T6 to be fine, or the 240bhp turbocharged version they badge as T5. Unfortunately it’s diesels or nothing.

      I think it’s been a wonderful piece of “Emperor’s New Clothes” work by the automotive industry over the last 15 years to get everyone to agree that such appalling refinement from the powertrain is acceptable on cars often costing well over £40k. It’s not as if they are even slightly good – the vibrations through the cabin in a 520d or Mercedes E220 CDI are not subtle.

    3. David. You’re in good company here with your dislike of diesels. Of course it’s difficult for manufacturers because, like it or not, as long as the figures look good, the majority of customers will put economy above refinement, noise and response – especially in the UK. So it probably doesn’t make sense for Volvo to offer the T6. That said, although I am impressed by the car which looks more habitable than an XF, I’d never buy a diesel so they’d lose my (albeit hypothetical) sale.

      I also join you in a liking for a nice characterful in line five. The old S6 Audi I drove wouldn’t have lasted with me so long had it not been for the engine.

    4. There’s a lot to be said for engines with a bit of character. I have a theory that people buy V8s not just for the shove, but for the sound they make. Ditto the Porsche flat six. Even people who don’t like cars respond to that sort of soundtrack.

    5. David, I tend to agree, although I continue to find the 2.2d four-pot in my Mazda something of a revelation. It’s super refined, the only compromise you need to accept is that it does not rev to a high level – the torque and economy are compelling.

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