The new Volvo S90 is now available in South Africa. Making its local debut as the second brand-new Volvo since the company began its ‘New Dawn’ renaissance with the local launch of the all-new XC90 in 2015, the new Volvo S90 is a continuation of the new look, new feel and new luxury Volvo brand in South Africa.
Marking Volvo’s return to the large executive sedan segment, the new S90 offers unprecedented Swedish luxury, supreme comfort and space, modern Scandinavian design, Drive-E efficiency and semi-autonomous driving as standard on all models. The new S90, like the XC90, is built on Volvo Cars’ new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) and features a mixed offering of petrol and diesel engines, and is available in three trim levels to cater to a wide audience while also offering a broad spectrum of value and Swedish luxury.
The new Volvo S90 launches in South Africa initially with two engines – the D5 and T6, both with all-wheel drive – in Momentum or Inscription guise. Later in 2017, the D4 and T5 derivatives will follow, with front-wheel drive, and the range-topping T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid (PHEV) will make its way to South Africa at a later date.
Like the XC90, the new S90 features minimal arrays of buttons, especially on the dashboard. The 9-inch high definition Sensus Connect interface is responsible for most in-car functions, from entertainment and telephony to settings, climate control and navigation. Designed around the same principles as today’s leading smart devices, the tablet-style interface with its portrait orientation is easy to use, responsive (even while wearing gloves) and intuitive, with tap, pinch and swipe gesture controls and customisable shortcuts, giving the driver quick and easy access to their preferred vehicle functions. Various themes are available for the Sensus Connect interface and the instrument cluster, allowing drivers the choice of classic, minimalistic, metallic and sporty overtones.
Fitted as standard with ten high-quality speakers, entertainment in the new Volvo S90 is always a premium experience. Bluetooth, USB, aux and radio functionality are available as standard, with an optional CD player available as well. Internet connectivity also features as standard, with the S90 able to tap into a smart device’s network connection or an external Wi-Fi network which enables apps like TuneIn internet radio, connected service booking and downloadable vehicle updates.
Other USB-based content including photos and HD videos can also be viewed on the Sensus Connect screen, provided the vehicle is stationary and in Park.
Dramatically increasing the inherent value of all S90 derivatives – and moving one step closer towards fully-autonomous cars – is the fact that all S90 derivatives are semi-autonomous up to 130 km/h as standard. Working hand-in-hand, Adaptive Cruise Control and Pilot Assist enhance the S90’s driveability and allow drivers to hand over control to the car in varying degrees of engagement.
Available with a toggle option to conventional cruise control, should the driver prefer not to enjoy the benefits of an adaptive system, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) uses radar and a camera to manage the S90’s speed in relation to the car in front, when applicable and up to 200 km/h. The system reacts readily to changing conditions, and is capable of bringing the S90 to a complete stop.
As an extension of ACC, new-generation Pilot Assist, which has been available in South Africa in the XC90 since late 2016 already, takes things a step further. Activated manually, the driver can also allow the S90 to control steering input at speeds up to 130 km/h, provided there are clear lane markings on both sides of the car. This ‘driver in the loop’ system is provided as an outright assistance feature and requires the driver to keep at least one hand on the wheel and maintain focus on the road at all times – but with its gentle steering inputs allows the driver to relax behind the wheel to a large extent. It is important to note that semi-autonomous systems are restricted in how much acceleration, braking and steering force they may apply, and that the driver is always legally responsible for driving the vehicle. The driver can at any time override Pilot Assist by applying the brakes, applying steering force or switching back to ACC.
Pilot Assist comes in particularly handy on the daily commute and especially when stuck in a traffic jam.
Mirroring those of the XC90, the new Volvo S90 is also available with a range of petrol and diesel engines, as well as front- or all-wheel drive. All models feature the silky-smooth 8-speed Geartronic automatic transmission. All engines are part of the Drive-E engine family – designed by Volvo, for Volvo. The modular, aluminium engines are all 2.0-litres in capacity and all feature forced induction – for a great balance between performance and efficiency with real-world merit.
Diesel power is provided by either the D4 or D5 engines. The D4 is twin-turbocharged to produce 140 kW at 4 250 rpm, with 400 Nm of torque on hand between 1 750 and 2 500 rpm. The quiet and smooth-running engine is mated to the front wheels only and brings excellent efficiency to the table, right from the get-go. Consisting of a serial, sequential, low- and high-pressure two-stage twin-turbo system, advanced boosting on the D4 engine is based on a refined version of the boosting technology first introduced in Volvo cars in 2008. As then, advanced boosting enables the delivery of increased power and drivability, but with lower fuel consumption. The two-stage turbo system also allows for better low- and high-speed response.
Average fuel economy is 4.4-litres per 100 km on the combined cycle, with corresponding carbon emissions of 116 g/km coming in below the national taxation threshold. Performance figures are respectable, with a 0-100 km/h time of 8.2 seconds and a top speed of 230 km/h.
The D5 engine which features PowerPulse technology is a game-changer. Powering all four wheels and featuring a two-stage, series-sequential twin-turbocharger system with variable geometry, the engine is further augmented by a 2.0-litre tank of compressed air. Available on demand, the compressed air is fed through to the high-pressure turbo on pull-away and under light throttle inputs for instant spool-up, effectively removing the turbo lag that tends to characterise high-output diesel motors. The tank is topped up immediately and quickly after each activation, ensuring another fresh burst is ready to be used, and Volvo Cars is the only manufacturer currently using this technology.
Outputs are impressive – 173 kW is produced at 4 000 rpm, while a meaty 480 Nm of torque is on hand from 1 750 to 2 250 rpm. Below this rev range, PowerPulse ensures a smooth driving experience, with the results making the engine actually feel more normally-aspirated rather than turbocharged.
Naturally, the D5’s efficiency is as impressive as its output – average combined consumption is just 4.8-litres per 100 km and carbon emissions are as low as 127 g/km. Performance is real-world impressive, with the 0-100 km/h sprint achievable in just 7.0 seconds, and top speed is 240 km/h.
On the petrol front, two options are available. The T5 with front wheel drive sees 187 kW (at 5 500 rpm) and 350 Nm (between 1 500 and 4 800 rpm) on hand for swift performance and an enjoyable drive. Efficiency from this high-pressure turbocharged engine is good – average combined fuel consumption is 6.5-litres per 100 km and carbon emissions are 149 g/km. 0-100 km/h takes 6.8 seconds, and top speed is 230 km/h.
The T6 engine, mated to all-wheel drive, is the cream of the crop. Featuring a turbocharger and a supercharger, which supplements the turbo and takes care of low-down grunt until 3 500 rpm, power and torque is effectively available on demand – the T6 engine produces 235 kW at 5 700 rpm and 400 Nm between 2 200 and 5 400 rpm. The resulting performance is gutsy, with the 0-100 dash completed in 5.9 seconds, with top speed limited to 250 km/h.
Despite the high output, the T6 remains impressively efficient, able to achieve 7.2-litres per 100 km on the combined average, with carbon emissions of 165 g/km.
Built on Volvo’s SPA platform (Scalable Product Architecture), the new S90 has benefitted from unprecedented freedoms between the design and engineering departments. With ultramodern production methods and design possibilities, and the ever-increasing need to cram more technology under the skin, the modular and almost entirely flexible platform means that designers see more of their imaginative elements making production, because the engineers are better equipped to integrate their multitude of complicated elements behind creatively-shaped sheet metal.
As can be expected, the new S90 picks up on the high precedent set by the XC90 and as such features all of Volvo’s latest safety systems as standard. This naturally includes ABS, EBD, EBA, stability and traction control, hill start assistance and six airbags, and Volvo’s Side Impact Protection System (SIPS) and Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS). Volvo’s patented safety cage is also employed in the S90’s body construction, with high-tensile Boron steel (35%) and a mix of other metals ensuring that the passenger compartment remains intact and that other parts of the car can absorb energy effectively, in the event of a collision.
A number of supplementary “IntelliSafe” safety systems are also on hand as standard to assist in preventing accidents, or at least minimising the potential for damage and injury should a crash be unavoidable.
Taking on a safety role as well as being a styling highlight are the full-LED automatic headlights with Active Bending and Active High Beam technology. The lights not only offer energy-efficient and long-lasting lighting technology as standard, but have been designed to provide maximum effective illumination at all times.
Each model of the S90 range is available in three trim grades, each of which offers different levels of style, luxury and value for money. Momentum models, which introduce the range in South Africa, maintain a high level of standard equipment, some of which remains available only as costly optional equipment in rival vehicles in the segment. Inscription models offer a more luxurious look and feel as standard, while forthcoming R-Design models add a sportier, more aggressive aspect to the range. More detail on R-Design variants will be made available at a later date.
A total of 13 exterior colours and 12 interior schemes are available for the new S90.