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Test drive: The versatile and elegant Volvo V90

LLM motoring editor Lisa Curtiss reviews the Volvo V90, the estate version of the S90 saloon.

By Lisa Curtiss  |  December 5, 2021
The Versatile & Elegant Volvo V90

If you’ve always considered estates to be boxy, boring and dull, Volvo’s elegantly stylish V90 is just the model to change your mind. Light years away from the rectangles-on-wheels estates of yester-year, this car’s sleek lines and swooping curves grab attention in all the right ways.

Taking tasteful Scandi-Style to the next level, viewed kerbside on test, our V90 B5 Inscription model in a gorgeous combination of pebble grey metallic with a blond nappa soft leather interior is a masterclass in how you don’t need garish colours to catch the eye.

As with all new Volvos, there’s just the right amount of design flourishes to please, without superfluous quantities of chrome, shine, knobs and dials. The minimal aesthetic ethos enables you easily find, touch and use just what you need without distraction.

The blond interior is such a far cry to the dark and dreary cabins most of us are used to. Being a pale cool cream, it creates a travelling space which is light and airy and seems even more spacious than it already is. The power glass tilt and slide panoramic sunroof with sun curtain lets you adjust how much additional light you let it, and there are thoughtfully placed integrated sun curtains on the rear doors too.

Passenger comfort and acres of space

Volvo V90 interior

Front and rear there’s acres of head, shoulder and knee room for even tall adults and the boot, as you’d expect from a Volvo estate, is enormous. Versatile loading and seating options and roomy design enable relaxed travel so you can just gather the entire family, pack your gear and head off to your favourite countryside retreat. Passenger comfort is guaranteed thanks to clever rear air suspension which responds instantly to maintain height, stability and comfort to make every ride smooth.

You can even preheat or precool your car and more with a simple command with the Volvo Cars app which lets you create your own perfect space remotely before you set off, and personalise your cabin’s ambience thanks to adjustable brightness and colour in the LED lighting system to reflect you and your passengers’ mood.

There’s also four-zone electronic climate control and advanced interior air cleaner to ensure all occupants are able to keep warm or cool, and experience optimum air quality.

Technology rich

Volvo V90 technology

Volvo’s care for driver and passenger comfort and convenience goes well beyond your expectations. The digital services package enables Google Assistant, Google Maps and Google Play, Volvo Cars app remote services, wireless phone charger and all data included.

Through Google Assistant you can get directions, enjoy entertainment, keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues and fine-tune your cabin environment – all without taking your hands off the wheel. Simply say, ‘Hey Google’ to get started.

You can also make the most of time spent on the road – particularly handy for those whose career entails a lot of daily travelling. With Google you can connect your favourite apps and devices to seamlessly get things done throughout your day including controlling compatible smart home devices while in the car for peace of mind and convenience.

It’s safe to use too thanks to hands-free control. You can also enjoy entertainment and keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues – just by using your voice – including Google Play and an optional but fantastic high-end Bowers and Wilkins sound system.

Safety first

Volvo V90 side view

As you’d expect from Volvo, the V90 comes with a world-leading raft of safety systems and features – too many to include in this feature. Highlights though include a head-up display allows you to watch your speed, follow turn-by-turn navigation, answer your phone calls, and more – all without losing focus on the road. And a blind spot information system (BLIS) which provides active support when changing lanes.

If it senses there’s is a risk of collision with other vehicles in the adjacent lane, it will subtly adjust steering to keep you out of harm’s way. The V90 will also automatically brake if it senses dangerous obstacles in the way and the driver fails to react.

We were particularly impressed with the V90’s crystal-clear 360° parking view system comprising four cameras providing multiple views including a 360° bird’s eye perspective while flank and side sensors keep you alert to adjacent objects. This really helps navigating out of tight spaces.

Out on the road

Volvo V90 on the road

Our V90 on test was the B5 petrol FWD Inscription model. Its 250hp engine delivering 350Nm of torque tackles the 0-62mph sprint in just 6.9 seconds and between 36.7 – 40.3mpg. An integrated starter generator actively supports the engine and reduces fuel consumption while delivering a relaxed and controlled drive. A super-refined, silky smooth, responsive drive, the V90 excels on motorways as you’d expect but is also remarkably nimble and agile tackling tight and twisty B roads too. Steering is well weighted and precise and the ride has just the right amount of firmness to take the sting out of poor quality road surfaces.

In all, this excellent Volvo estate makes absolute sense as a car to invest in and live with and use every day. The build quality is hard to beat, as is the raft of safety and other high tech features and systems. The interior is one of the nicest and best quality cabins we’ve experienced – even in cars over twice the price. A car of real class, substance, space and style.