What it looks like
Like the most elegant load-lugger you’ve ever seen.
Volvo is renowned for its estate cars, really making a name for itself in the 80s for its safe, dependable, boxy barges. But the Swedish carmaker (now owned by Chinese company Geely) has started taking a slightly different approach to design, instead opting for a more traditional Scandinavian feel.
So the V90 is a long, sleek, elegant estate car with a bold front, contoured panels and touches of futurism here and there. It’s one of the best-looking cars launched in recent years and a real feast for the eyes.
What the cabin’s like
That Scandi design theme is continued inside the V90, with a simple, but beautifully set out cabin. There’s a clean, minimal look to the car, helped in no small part by the layout of the controls.
A large touchscreen dominates the centre console, which renders most of the usual buttons found on car dashboards redundant. Indeed, there are just a few, arranged in a neat row beneath the screen, which is flanked by a pair of vertical air vents.
The seats are very comfortable (a Volvo trait that continues in the V90) and covered in leather as standard, while there’s bags of space fore and aft, plus a 560-litre boot (which increases to 1,526 litres when the rear seats are dropped) that also has a very practical wide, low aperture to make loading easier.
The driving experience
Most buyers will want the V90 to supply a comfortable driving experience, with a compliant ride and not to much in the way of firmness.
And you know what? That’s what they will get – especially if it’s left in the Comfort setting (one of three, along with Eco and Dynamic) and you tick the option box for the air spring suspension. This combination makes for a cossetting, wafty (in the best possible sense) ride, evoking the best Volvos of yesteryear.
You don’t buy a large Volvo estate for a dynamic drive, but the V90 acquits itself pretty well in this department, too. It can’t quite match a BMW 5 Series Touring, but its not really trying to – and buyers don’t choose a Volvo for that reason, anyway.
The aformentioned touchscreen would be a highlight for any car, but there’s so much fascinating, cutting-edge technology in the V90 that it’s almost something of an also-ran. Almost.
Because the large 9-inch portrait screen is easy to use – including tablet-style pinch-and-zoom and swiping functions – and helps control an infotainment system that includes satellite navigation, smartphone syncing (with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto), the ability to turn the car into a wi-fi hotspot and connectivity to cloud-based apps.
There’s also a very clever voice control system that can understand more than 300 spoken instructions or popular phrases.
However, perhaps the cleverest piece of technology on the V90 is the Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving feature. This preview of the future uses radar and cameras to control the steering and keep the car within lane markings: this ability is combined with adaptive cruise control to keep the car at a constant speed and distance from a vehicle in front.