VOLVO ON A ROLL / #Volvo-S90
These are exciting times at #Volvo
. The company’s new XC90 has been very well received, and won a string of international awards. Now the Swedish car maker is ready to launch a new flagship model, the S90 saloon. Volvo has bold ambitions for the car, to take on the prestige German marques as a convincing rival in the upper echelons of the executive car scene. In its sights: the BMW 5-Series F10/F11, upcoming new Mercedes-Benz E-Class W213, Audi’s A6 and the latest Jaguar XF (Second Gen), not to mention the Lexus GS hybrid.
No wonder that Volvo, owned by #Geely
, and benefitting from substantial investment – more than £7.2 billion over the past five years – is making much of an early preview unveiling of the flagship S90 saloon in Gothenburg. It has flown in 80 leading car writers from all around the world to its headquarters in Sweden, where we are ushered into the normally top-secret new model viewing area.
With due reverence, the wraps come off a sleek pre-production S90, one of four in the room, and we are briefed on its vital statistics. It has the same platform and similar engine range as the XC90: all four-cylinder units, with a choice of six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmissions, and a similarly high provision of safety systems. These include autonomous emergency braking, newly equipped with large animal detection. Elks on the roads is a real problem in Sweden, but so are deer here in the UK. It can also detect horses, donkeys and moose, both night and day. It also comes equipped with a semiautonomous drive feature that gently steers the car within the white lines of a road up to speeds of 81mph, and brings us another step closer to fully autonomous driving.
Production of the S90 will begin next May, and the first UK deliveries will be from next September. The range will start with a 188bhp 2.0-litre D4 diesel engine with front-wheeldrive and with a CO2 emissions output of 109g/km. Also coming is a 232bhp 2.0-litre D5 four-wheel-drive edition with sequential twostage turbocharger, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and CO2 emissions of 133g/km.
Both engines meet the upcoming Euro-6b emissions regulations. But the headline act is sure to be the T8 Twin Drive plug-in hybrid with 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, standard four-wheel-drive, and delivering a combined power output of 316bhp, yet emitting just 44g/km of CO2. Volvo plans to shift around 500 S90s in the UK during 2016, with that figure increasing to 2,000 per year thereafter. Despite the uplift in quality, equipment and efficiency, prices will largely remain the same as the outgoing S80, with the cheapest model kicking off at around £32,000.
At 4,963 millimetres, the new S90 is 109 millimetres longer than its predecessor, with all of the extra length inserted between the wheels for greater cabin space. The new car is narrower than before, however, with 87 millimetres shaved from the width, at 2,019 millimetres wide inclusive of the door mirrors, making it the slimmest of all its executive car rivals. It’s also the smallest when it comes to boot space, at 500 litres, with its Audi, BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz competitors offering more generous proportions for luggage. Only the Lexus GS is smaller, on account of its hybrid paraphernalia and battery packs.
With the wraps off the S90 at the Gothenburg unveiling, and we hurry to pore over the S90, sit in it, but alas not yet to drive it. First impressions are good. The cabin is high-class, in that elegantly understated Scandinavian style. Some of the detailing is exquisite, especially the jewel-cut glass-inset fitments, such as the gear selector. This car is aiming to offer something as good as, but distinctively different from, the prestige German trio of marques.
The new S90 will make its public debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month, with the estate edition, named V90, to be unveiled at the Geneva motor show in March.
ON NEW S90 Håkan Samuelsson
Volvo president and chief executive Håkan Samuelsson is in a relaxed mood, rightly sensing a positive reaction to his new car. He is deliberately informal for the event, in open neck shirt and waving an Apple watch-clad wrist when he emphasises key points about the car. He is bullish about where the company is heading. “Volvo has come a long way in five years”, he tells us, with “investment in people, products and plants.” It’s now a truly global brand, with big plans and new products, including the S90, which he says is set to “shake up the rather staid and sedate large premium saloon segment“. How will Volvo do that? “I think it’s important to offer something special, and we have a design that is different from what the others have, with elegant Nordic design, that is more simple and more elegant,” says Volvo’s boss.
Despite the uplift in quality, equipment and efficiency, prices will largely remain the same, with the cheapest model kicking off at around £32,000.