Volvo large 1

It costs: $110,075.

It has: A 173-kilowatt two-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel with an eight-speed auto.

We got: 9.4 litres per 100 km in the city, 6.9 in the country. The official combined figure is 5.7.

Conclusion: Comfy, economical, but not as sporty as it looks.

Volvo’s V90CC really looks the part. Long, low and lean with 20-inch wheels shod in low profile Pirelli P-Zeroes. It looks like it’s moving when it’s parked. And the interior maintains the theme, beautifully sporty and sorted. What a pity it’s only available with a two-litre turbo diesel – with a nice three-litre petrol V6 this thing would be a weapon, as it is it can’t deliver on the promise its appearance makes.

Volvo large 3As diesels go this one is nicely sorted and smooth, it’s quiet and it’s brilliantly economical in such a large car, and make no mistake, the V90 is certainly large. But the laws of physics are immutable and there are certain things that this motor simply can’t do when it’s driving all four wheels of a heavy vehicle. It’s not fast off the line and responsiveness to the accelerator can be slow.

This is a tad disappointing because the handling offers potential that, in most cases, is way beyond the ability of the diesel to deliver. You kick this car into a tight sweeper expecting a bit of excitement drama and get… nothing at all. Partly because the motor is still thinking about it, and partly because the car simply goes around flat and secure. I have one favourite corner that’s deceptively fast and the Volvo went around it so successfully that I came back and did it twice more, going a little faster each time. Even on the third time around there wasn’t even tyre squeal. Much of this is down to the big, fat and unarguably expensive P-Zeroes but the Volvo remained flat and undramatic throughout. Beautiful.

Normally you’d be expecting me to say about now that it rides hard, and on 45-profile ultra-performance tyres you’d normally be right, and yet the ride remains continuously comfortable. There are no niggles over poor surfaces, no thumps travelling up your spine, it rides beautifully. And there’s another surprise; tyre noise is low. Bonus: Given that the Pirellis are not run-flats you get a spare wheel and tyre – okay it’s only a space saver, but at least it’s a spare.

The message is that if you want a car that performs like it looks and handles you’ll be a bit disappointed with the delivery of the V90.

Volvo large 2If, however, performance comes a distant second to comfort in your book this is a most satisfying package indeed. Okay, it’s big, but the interior space is still surprising. Rear-seat passengers have a ton of legroom and can get very comfortable back there, and behind them there’s enough cargo space for a pretty decent family holiday.

I’ve said this before but it’s worth saying again – Volvo’s large and very high res centre-dash touch screen that controls most everything is a ripper. It’s shaped and sized like and iPad and it works like one too, right down to the button below the screen to return you to the master menu. If you’re familiar with an iPad, or even a smartphone, you’ll pick it up in no time at all, and if you’re not it will take you about three minutes.

A word, too, about the audio. Volvo has always been good at audio and this car has a lovely system, even in standard trim. The satnav is also easy and intuitive and there’s about every safety device known to science.

The boot badge declares this to be a cross-country and it’s four-wheel-drive and has a reasonably clean underbody, but consider it an all-road vehicle rather than an off-road vehicle. If you’re doing the Big Trip and encounter flooding or mud or snow this one will get you further and more safely than a conventional front-wheel-drive car, but it’s not something you’d take into the Simpson Desert.

I enjoyed the V90 thoroughly and it comes close to being all things for all people. If you have the wherewithal it’s an outstanding buy.

Published August 2017

 

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