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Volvo S90 - pre launch review

Think of Volvo and the first thing that comes to mind is buses – this is specially true for Indians. However, once you get over that and realize that Volvo has some truly good cars on Indian roads you think – safety, understated luxury, comfort. Volvo has been trying to make its mark in the Indian car market and its last product – XC90 was quite successful. However, standing against the German troika and Jaguar Land Rover is no mean feat. And with the upcoming launch of the S90, Volvo once again tries to make its mark.

The S90, which replaces the S80, is a luxury saloon and the pre-booking for this car has already begun. Deliveries are expected to start some time in November this year and so we thought to give you an idea about what to expect from this car(and what not to expect too)


To begin with the car is based on the SPA(Scalable Platform Architecture) architecture which is quite flexible. Meaning thereby, Volvo can use the same platform to make a lot of cars with varying wheelbase, rear and front overhangs and of course varying heights. So the SPA platform is the same one on which the XC90 SUV is based.

But that is what lies underneath. What greets the eye is simply stunning – if you are into classy, elegant cars and not sporty, flashy cars. The car is a beaut. Sophisticated, easy flowing lines which are very symmetrical and pleasing to the eye. Looks appealing from any angle it is viewed from. Somehow, I liked the exterior design of this car better than the all the cars pitted against it – Audi A5, BMW 5 series, Mercedes E Class and even the Jaguar XF. And it is a huge improvement on the S80.

In the front, the grille has concave vertical elements which is fitted with the ‘Iron Mark’ logo and is flanked by ‘Thor Hammer’ day time running LED lights. The roofline is sloping which makes you question the headroom for the rear passenger, but we will come to that later. The boot is quite short compared to the bonnet but still does not put the proportions off and is marked by the trademark stenciled brand name on the lip. The tail lamp design is a bit unconventional and takes some time getting used to.

On the inside, there are a lot of design cues lifted from the XC90. And true to its brand ethos the interior is plush, comfortable and makes you feel like you are in the lap of luxury.

The center console has a big infotainment system which is easy to navigate and helps you handle the music, telephony, car settings and the AC, doing away with the need for most of the buttons. The cabin space is also very good, especially for the rear passenger, where most of the car owners are likely to be. However, a thing I noticed is that since this car is quite low, ingress and egress will be difficult for older people and those who are extremely tall. But once inside, you definitely wouldn’t want to step out.


Internationally, the car is available with a range of both petrol and diesel options. However, it is expected that at the time of the launch only the Diesel engine will be launched. The diesel machine is a 4 cylinder, 1969 cc turbo diesel which gives out 232 bhp@4000 rpm and 480 Nm@ 1750-2250 rpm. It is also expected that there will be a plug in hybrid option with 405 PS of power. The car will be mated with an eight speed Automatic gearbox.

Volvo engineers have developed a new system to reduce the turbo lag. They have been successful to a big extent but the lag does not vanish completely.

But the USP of this car is the semi-autonomous driving system which sadly, will not be available in India . Sigh! Internationally, the car is available with a bevy of sensors, radars and computers – requiring only a light hand on the steering wheel. Features such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure assist, auto parking abilities, pilot assist, City safety technology and hold your breath …. ‘ Large Animal Detection’ with auto brake are available in the international markets. But now I think you know why these are not available in India. Apart from the fact that there are virtually no lanes on the road for you to require assistance from the computers, ‘Large Animal Detection’ will get activated every few minutes in many big cities in India. 

So how is it to drive? Calm, composed and stately are the words that pop into my mind. You cannot expect sporty from Volvo. Power delivery is quite good. Handling can be a bit dull at times but if it is going to be handled by the chauffer most of the times that it nothing you need to worry about. Suspension and tyres for the Indian car will be capable of handling our roads. The cabin is extremely well insulated so that there is no exterior sound seeping in.  And when it comes to safety, you have to look nowhere else. State of the art safety technology is what Volvo specializes in.

The car moves from 0-100 kph in 7 seconds and the top speed achieved is 240 kph.


Volvo is using the tagline ‘relaxed confidence’ and it really sums up the car. This car is for people who have the bank balance but do not want to flash it and are happy for the car to perform. This car is expected to be priced around the Rs. 60 lacs price band and keeping in mind the way it looks and performs, it will give a tough competition to its compatriots. Truly the best car from Volvo yet.

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