Volvo V90 D4 R-Design Plus, elegant and impressive

In Car Reviews, Volvo by Tom Scanlan

£15,000 for a crystal gear-knob! That piece of automotive sculpture is what I would really want on my Volvo V90.

OK, compared with this test car, which is a 190 bhp R-Design, the crystal gear-knob, which was designed by the Swedish company Orrefors, is just one little piece of the Inscription Plus AWD Twin 8, Hybrid V90 version that can apparently shift from zero to 62 mph in less than five seconds. Hence that the extra cash over and above ‘my’ car: the D4 R-Design Plus, priced, including options adding £1550, at £44,965.

So, it’s dream on…

The last Volvo I drove, a V40 a few years ago now was OK, except for its insistence on warning me loudly and visually of the slightest little thing that I was perfectly capable of observing and reacting to myself thank you very much.

This elegant V90 was far calmer, mercifully. In around three hundred miles, I got only one warning and, actually, I was thankful for it when a moment of distraction and lack of concentration nearly had me into the back of the car in front.

Another plus was the satnav. This, although being touch-screen and therefore with no ‘feel’, at least had a voice-mute icon; it’s annoying isn’t it when you have the voice-guidance on and it interrupts the radio just at that interesting bit. So, on the motorway, I touched the screen on the crossed-out loudspeaker icon and relaxed…only to hear the lady telling me to keep right at the next junction which I was already aware of. On closer inspection, I found that the crossed-out loudspeaker actually meant the opposite of what I had thought and that the icon with the non-crossed-out speaker was the one I wanted. After that, the car and I understood each other. Funny how little things stick in the mind. The screen itself is easy to use and of a generous size.

In general, the test car was an impressive vehicle. The interior was beautifully finished. Design and quality oozes out.

On the road, 190 bhp from the 1969cc, 4-cylinder diesel was easily enough to provide the performance you need in day-to-day conditions. A satisfying 8-speed auto box helps the car smoothly up to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds, but it’s the 400 Nm of torque that’s the more significant fact.

Once underway, the engine was hushed; road noise was usually about the only sound in the cabin and never to an intrusive extent. 70 mph is a leisurely cruise at 1750rpm. Most of the driving was on motorway and dual carriageway, but a fair bit of cross-country with slowing and accelerating, plus a couple of traffic jams. At the end of all this, the trip computer indicated an overall 42.0 mpg. The car’s range, therefore, worked out at about 500 miles.

The car was altogether relaxing except at night when a few drivers appeared to flash me as though the adaptive lights were not adapting. Getting into the car’s setting is not something you can do hen you are driving by yourself, so I didn’t. On that note, the default mode includes stop-start; changing this requires three steps into the computer set-up, so it is, as always, a sensible idea to have a good read of the handbook early on in your ownership.

Another default (entirely acceptable to me) is the car being in Comfort mode; of course, you can switch from that to Eco, Dynamic or Individual. And, to select these, when it comes to design, is there a better-designed roller control switch out there? I don’t think so.
Steering, handling, braking? All good.

In the back, two adults fit very comfortably, even possibly the taller ones thanks to that little bit extra legroom available in V90s. The boot is as well finished as the rest of the car and can be configured to keep various amounts of loads from moving about. There is a double floor to help secrete flat items if wished. The test car had the sensible option of a spare wheel (and jack!) for £200.

Volvo’s long-established reputation for safety is fully backed up by everything on board here. So, too, is technology — Volvo On Call — that keeps you in touch with your car even when you’re not in it, plus all the other connectivity that today’s market demands.

But, PLEASE, Volvo, can you offer that crystal gearknob as an option? Or, for just £15, maybe I could superglue an Orrefors crystal snowball on…

Car reviewed: Volvo V90 R-Design Plus D4 £43,915 on the road 0-62mph 8.5secs Top speed 137mph Engine 1969cc 4 cylinder diesel EU6.2 Fuel Economy Combined 58.9mpg CO2 emissions 127g/km Max Power 190PS@4250rpm Torque 400Nm@1750rpm Transmission 8-speed automatic with manual mode

Tom Scanlan

Motoring Journalist

Tom Scanlan has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, particularly the Reading Evening Post for ten years, having got into motoring journalism in 1973 via the somewhat unlikely back door of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. BFBS produced a weekly radio motoring show for the services overseas and Tom produced it, as well as interviewing experts and eventually reporting on cars.
He is into classic cars and has owned Porsche, Ferrari, pre-war Alvis and Rileys and currently owns his fifth old Alfa Romeo, a 1984 GTV 2.0.
In his spare time, Tom is a professional cricket coach.

“I’ve always liked to think I could do anything I wished as well as – if not better than – a man. But I wasn’t very good at rally driving.”  – Jo Brand