The Volvo S90 T6, the home run no one talks about

We spend 7 quality days with the safest car in the world

This week, Volvo’s biggest seller locally, the XC60, was launched abroad and Volvo executives must be counting the weeks before its SA arrival. With sales of the XC90 and Volvo S90 not nearly as good as in Europe, the aging local XC60 is still outperforming its bigger, newer siblings.

With the S90, slower sales do make sense. South Africa is moving towards SUVs, and just like when hatchbacks took over and sedan sales suffered, the same is happening now with more and more families opting for a “multi-purpose” vehicle.

These underutilized MPVs are simply not fully exploited and, let’s be honest, some multi-purpose vehicles simply wear the uniform, without holding any of the qualifications.

But when it comes to being qualified for the job, the S90 is like a pedigreed doctor. Wise, experienced, but not averse to learning about the latest technologies.

The cockpit

I call it a cockpit because that’s what it feels like. Everything falls to hand and the ergonomic attention to detail is simply staggering. I get the sense that the entire interior was designed by a team of doctors rather than engineers. The seats are orthopedically sculpted and once all the settings on the 3-way memory adjustable seat have been fine-tuned, an absolutely perfect driving position can be achieved.  The pedals are almost perfectly symmetrical, with the brake pedal directly in the middle of the matching accelerator and “dead pedal”. S90 urges you into using the “Pilot Assist”, which allows the driver tohandle the car with minimal steering input and zero brake and accelerator input.  The tech isn’t perfect, but this version is better than XC90’s. Fewer abrupt stops and smoother take offs than before and getting better with every iteration.

Ground-breaking Car Audio

It’s not often that a car gets an entire paragraph dedicated to just the audio setup, but this time it most certainly is warranted.  I’ve heard many car installs, OEM and after market and when it comes to out and out clarity, stage, and fill, the 19 speaker Bowers and Wilkins system simply blows the competition out of the water. Not that it is a competition, but if it were…

Putting my favourite songs on via USB, and even lower quality MP3s have a level of clarity few audio installs can match.  With a centre tweeter and a subwoofer that’s built into the chassis, S90 has a level of detail that sets the Swedish car maker apart from other manufacturers and this can be seen in almost all aspects. Remarkable.

On the road

With 235kW from the twin turbo 2 litre engine, Volvo S90 certainly makes sufficient power. 100 comes up in 5.9 seconds but one can’t help but feel that a bigger engine would have made the car feel slightly less rushed. Slightly more at ease. The automatic gearbox takes a while to respond when exiting corners briskly, and with no paddles, I simply couldn’t be bothered to change gears in such a relaxing environment.  The 4WD system also kicks back when accelerating hard, almost in defiance. The S90 needs to be driven smoothly to be enjoyed, and although the car does and can be hurried when required, that simply isn’t S90’s forte.

The combined fuel consumption is claimed at 7.2l/100 and this is easily achieved when most driving is done on the highway, but mix in a few hours on the urban commute S90 cannot match the claimed figures.


I handed the keys back to R1 012 625 S90 just a few days ago and I’ve had a sense of sadness ever since. Firstly because this is a car I would own, if I weren’t a struggling journalist.  Going from meeting to meeting in absolute comfort, without having to think about the driving experience. It’s like taking a long relaxing shower, and planning one’s week, only to snap back to reality with a towel in your hand. The car does the thinking for you, but without being disengaging. And secondly, because most won’t get to experience how really, really good this car is. If life were fair, we’d all own a Volvo S90, or at least have access to one, but life isn’t fair, and nice guys don’t always finish first.

Road Tests

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