beyond the blue
It has been some time since the words beautiful and Volvo were uttered freely in the same discourse, but this S90 T6 R-Design (RM453,888) is an absolute stunner. Her lines flow around with sensuous concavity, while lights dance across the bonnet bulge to the strong full-length shoulder crease. All this even before even considering the R-Design body augmentations.
In the S90, there is a commanding presence about its upright facade and Mjölnir daytime running lights, which seem to calmly suggest that fellow drivers vacate the lane in order for you to pass. A standard for the T6 variant, the R-design aesthetic package includes an all-round body kit, attractive satin-finished side mirrors and a gloss black horizontally-slatted grille up front. The 19-inch two-tone five-spoke wheels are diamond cut with its signature hue is listed as Bursting Blue – making sure it stands out in almost any company.
Step in, and once again, nothing familiar. Gone is the floating centre console of the S80, in its place you will find the portrait nine-inch infotainment touchscreen. From either end of the cabin, the authentic carbon fibre dashboard trim gradually widens to meet it, making it the focal point of those seated at fore. In this T6, one finds further R-Design icing in the form of the steering wheel, pedals and thick, booted gear lever.
A honeycomb dimpled starter knob and drive mode selection wheel are further executions of gorgeous detailing, as is the suede-feel Carbon Nubuck leather — calfskin sanded from the outside — on the sporty seats combined with perforated Nappa hide.
Volvo has consolidated its entire powertrain portfolio to a pair of 2.0-litre engines — a diesel and a petrol. Different specification levels receive either one of these in different states of tune, with or without forced induction and electrification. This twin-charged T6 packs both a supercharger and a turbocharger for some serious heat, 320hp and 400Nm driving all wheels via an eight-speed automatic.
Between this and the V90 wagon, and the lesser T5, the chassis is tweaked towards more spirited utilisation. All-wheel drive eschews the torque steer compensation found in front-wheel drive Volvos, inspiring confidence in the handling. A slew of new safety aids includes Volvo’s Pilot Assist — to safely stay in lane and follow the car ahead semi-autonomously — and the brilliant Run Off Road Mitigation, which detects and prepares for an accident.
And even with all these evolutionary changes, the summative experience is unmistakably Volvo. There is next to nothing recognisable that meets the eye, but the understated luxury and the reassuring feel behind the wheel could only come out of Gothenburg. And, it bears mentioning, in our market this will become somewhat of a collector’s Volvo. These fully-imported petrol S90 units, and their V90 counterparts, are extremely limited as the imminent locally-assembled variant will match the XC90 SUV in powertrain, that of being a T8 twin-engine — Volvo speak for plug-in hybrid.
This one, then, is for the Volvo loyalists. Those who knew that the Iron Mark — proudly adorning Volvos for 90 years — would return in massive fashion. The product offensive that began with the much lauded XC90 continues with this S90 and the V90, and thus completes the 90 Series.