Monday I checked my mailbox, only to find out I got another email from Volvo’s Dutch press outlet. Unlike the usual information included, the top headline this time discussed the arrival of the Volvo S90 at dealerships throughout the Netherlands. Naturally, my loins started vibrating a little. The only logical course of action was to visit the local dealership as soon as possible. Tuesday I hopped in our van to go there. Here’s what happened.
I have to admit, I was a tad nervous. It was my first time to go to a dealer with such a bold question. What if they declined, since I had zero interest in buying? (not entirely true, if I had the money, I’d totally buy it!) More importantly, the car wasn’t even for sale yet. On top of that, after posting a reply on an Instagram photo that showed an S90, someone from the Netherlands replied that it was forbidden to test it before the introduction. This man was the owner of several Volvo dealerships in the Northern part of the Netherlands. Although it freaked me out, I tried to look past it. The awesome crew at Bluekens had given me green lights to work out my plans, so I figured everything was fine. The only thing that remained now, was to wait until Friday 10 AM.
When the day finally arrived – it had seemed like ages and I was terribly excited – I hopped on my bike, after a lack of motorized vehicles. Upon arrival, I was awaited by Jeroen Somers, the same man I made my appointment with. A co-worker had taken the car from a nearby dealer to the venue we were at now, because they shared the Volvo S90. This meant they really went out of their way to let me test the car. I felt honoured.
We talked a little. Then they presented me the keys as we walked to the S90. I noticed the leather on the housing of the key, which matched the interior. A smile appeared on my face. It’s details like that, that make it even more worthwhile. We walked on. Another salesman started to explain the basics. Within a minute, I was left on my own. Being one of very few able to drive it on public roads, felt slightly magical. I quickly brushed off any feelings of importance and superiority and left the parking lot.
Because the dealership was so close to the highway, naturally that’s where I went first. I wondered what the 190 horses were capable of, so I immediately put it to the test by taking big steps on the motorway. Sparsely-filled roads meant more focus on the car, so I shifted some of it to the automatic gearbox and its functioning. The powertrain was stellar, which was a great sign, knowing that I wasn’t even driving the top diesel model. There is a D5, that produces 45 more horsepower. Moreover is the D5 an All-Wheel Drive, which is just better, in every way, in contrast to the FWD of the Volvo S90 D4 that I drove. If you were to organize a drag race between the two, the D5 would be 1.2 seconds quicker. (7-flat vs. 8.2s) You don’t hear me complaining, though! As I said earlier, it can only mean good when the “lowest” model is already such an over-delivering piece of engineering. My first impression of the S90 was, well.. impressed!
Volvo & Safety
As these cars are typically equipped with features like cruise control, I swiftly turned it on. If only I knew that Pilot Assist is always on, in some way. The car makes sure there constantly is a safe distance between yourself and the car in front. This is projected both in the window in front, as well as the dashboard. That’s not the end of the it though. Thanks to multiple cameras all over the car, the car continually scans the environment for several reasons. One of these reasons is to present you with changing road signs, which are then projected in your field of view. In accordance with these signs, the car manually adjusts its speed to make sure you’re not unwillingly breaking any laws. This is just one of many ways in which the S90 takes care of its passengers. Another reason is to help you at lower speeds, by means of the 360-degree camera. It’s as if you’re combining a vintage racing game with real world experiences. You’ll see in the video what that looks like, but I can already tell you I was stunned.
However nice Volvo’s safety concerns may be, at a certain point you have to ask yourself if it’s worth mentioning anymore. There is just so much to discuss. To clarify, Volvo boasts no more than four main points concerning safety in their booklet, one of which I already talked about. The others are their Blind Spot Information System, City Safety and the Cross Traffic Alert technology. While the first one might be self-explanatory, the latter two are a little more detailed. In short: City Safety prevents accidents under 50 km/h if you don’t have your eyes glued to the road, CTA has your back when you want to leave a parking space like a maniac.
The Volvo S90 & Performance
Enough about safety, though. How does it perform?! Two words: terrifyingly incredible. If you have a quick look around the car, before you fire it up, you’ll notice a range of buttons, dials, and switches. Although I really like the engine switch, nothing compares to the drive-mode dial. When pressed, the screen presents you with three options: Eco, Comfort and Dynamic. While the first two are much alike, Dynamic is a lot more pushy and powerful. The Eco mode tries to preserve your fuel, but is essentially similar to Comfort. Both shut down the engine when the brakes are applied and you’re at rest, for instance at red traffic lights. Both drive correspondingly and feel as comfy as the other. No unnecessary engine-revving, just plain simple short-shifting, although Comfort is a little more forgiving and cooperative when overtaking.
Then there’s Dynamic. As mentioned, pushy and powerful, but that’s not all. Start-stop system? Out the window! Unnecessary revving? GIVE ME THAT! When selected, Dynamic breaks the chains off the beast that is hidden somewhere beneath all its safety equipment and politically-correct, environmental-friendly equipment that everyone seems to long for. Suddenly, the car seems to have a different sense of purpose. It wants to go! Don’t get me wrong, I really admire their concerns with safety and the environment, but it’s a pleasant surprise when a car that sexy is able to do both. That’s what this car is: best of both worlds. It takes people’s wishes very seriously, by creating an immensely safe and green vehicle, while at the same time making sure the performance is also accounted for.
I can’t even begin to explain how often I halted the car in the 1.5 hours I drove it, just to put it in Dynamic and floor it right after. The sensation is simply indescribable.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to test every single feature on the car. I never fully inspected it, nor was told about it in great detail. Therefore, this review does not contain everything that you might want to know about the Volvo S90, but I’m sure I covered most of the bases. Lastly, I want to make sure I end it on a high note. The one thing that has not gotten any love throughout this article is the Pilot Assist. The thing is though, I could actually talk about it forever. That’s how impressed I was with it. At most of the B-roads I crossed, I made use of this amazing feature. I could not fathom how insane it was to basically hand my life over to the car. It held onto the speed, it checked for the edges of the road to make sure it kept in between the lines, and probably a lot more that I don’t understand. Again, this is shown in the video, so for the visuals (and some minor reactions), I suggest you go there.
The bottom line is, that Volvo created a masterpiece. Surely some flaws can be found upon close inspection, but since I never put it to such a test, and merely drove the car for 1.5 hours with my jaw in my lap, I have very little to criticise. They’re definitely on the right path when it comes to putting up a fight with their German competitors. In my opinion, Volvo set the bar somewhere in the stratosphere.
Have a good one,