Volvo Cars High-tech Flagship Shakes Up the Luxury Market
by John K. Lindgren
Remember back in the day when the Swedish Volvo cars looked like a Lego block carrying the motto “Volvo for life” while playing “Dancing Queen” by ABBA on the CD.
Flash forward to 2016 and Volvo’s entirely new architecture four-door, five-seat S90 designed and built in Torslanda, Sweden is launched and receives rave reviews worldwide: a big, prestigious, supremely comfortable, high-tech executive saloon. Now directly competing with the German Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5 Series and Audi A6.
Design: Boxiness is gone. The new S90 boasts a long hood with a striking concave grille and the iconic boomerang Thor’s hammer headlight with full active high beam LED lights. Side view: limousine sleek and elegant with matching large 19-inch alloys. The understated wide rear comes with C-shaped LED brake lights. On the deck lid the badges spell it out: VOLVO S90 D4. The latest Swedish automotive design at its best.
Interior: The cockpit and passenger space is homage to stripped-back Scandinavian expression of understated luxury. The use of unvarnished rare Nordic wood accents feels posh. Fit and finish simply outstanding. Case in point the delicious super soft Nappa leather upholstery combined with Volvo’s orthopedic, multi-adjustable seats, still the finest in the business, with loads of adjustment on offer and backache isn’t an issue on long trips. The rear seat, with its separate climate zone, will accommodate three tallish passengers. Trunk space 500 liters enough room for the IKEA Markus swivel chair and Billy bookcase in flat packs.
The new dashboard comes with a 12.3-inch color graphical driver display. Another detail. No more clutter of too many switches and buttons. The tech inside the Volvo S90 is user-friendly and called Sensus Connect. The highlight is the 9-inch central touchscreen with vertical display. Similar to my new cool iPad 2. S90’s touchscreen provides quick access to navigation, media everything from Bluetooth, radio and phone calls, Apple CarPlay with iPhone compatibility as well as in-car settings for A/C.
The S90 audio system is the Bowers & Wilkins, one of the world’s best stereo sound systems pumping out 1,400 watts through 19 loudspeakers with three acoustic modes: Studio, Individual Stage and Gothenburg Concert Hall. This system will blow you away whether you listen to ABBA, Adele, Bach, Miles Davis or Pavarotti!
Engine: The Volvo cars years ago used to be powered by 5-cylinder motors. Now, it’s four cylinders, state-of-the-art, turbocharged downsizing. Our S90 D4 Inscription comes with a fuel-efficient twin-turbo clean diesel. Displacement 1,969 cc producing 190 hp and 400 Nm of torque matched to a silky eight-speed auto transmission providing quick shifts during suburban and highway driving. With a choice of three drive modes: Comfort, Eco or Dynamic. Fuel consumption approximately 20 km per liter.
Safety: Who invented the three-point seat belt? Volvo in 1959. In 2004 the BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with radar sensor. Today Volvo’s safety concept is called “IntelliSafe” including the whole safety alphabet soup and more for example: auto braking with pedestrian and large animal detection (moose in Sweden and buffalo in Thailand) which is standard on all S90s. Another feature related to safety is Volvo’s Pilot Assist. Put simply, this semi-autonomous driving system reads the road stripes and traffic ahead and then controls the throttle, brakes and steering. PA operates up to 130 km per hour on marked roads and no longer needs to follow another car. It helps adjust steering to assist keeping the car in the lane. This feature will take the boredom out of long distance driving. Also worth mentioning is the high-resolution 360-degree park assist camera.
Drive: Cars are getting smarter at reading the world around us and Volvo is one of the smartest. As a luxury sedan, the S90 is a competent highway cruiser. The front-wheel D4 diesel engine provides plenty of traction. Our test drive to Hua Hin in heavy weekend traffic the “self-driving”, semi-autonomous Pilot Assist impressed me and my navigator. Driving back to back Bangkok in the night. Heavy rain and dark tarmac. Japanese motorbikes without tail lights and pickups with illegal funky blue taillights. Night-time driving on Thai highways and byways is often a challenge. Here Volvo’s super bright LED Active Bending Light provided extra safety.
Verdict: The all-new Volvo S90 D4 should be on your test drive list. Great styling, elegant, functional interior and standard semi-autonomous driving system. Style, Safety and LUXURY. A very clever vehicle. But also an enjoyable driver’s car, whether you’re commuting to work or enjoying a weekend getaway.
Volvo S90 D4 Inscription
Price: 3.99 million baht
Engine: 2.0-liter 4-cylinder twin-turbo diesel
Power: 190 hp
Torque: 400 Nm
Transmission: 8-speed auto, front-wheel drive
Average fuel consumption: 20 km/l
Top speed: 230 km/h