Bite the back of your hand…the S90 R-Design is here.

Road Test: S90 R-Design D5

After a road trip in a 2 seater sports car, I would immediately be swapping that out for the much more sedate S90 R-Design.  A let down some would say but after a cross-country cruise in what is effectively a 2 seater jetpack, it was nice to settle into something more sumptuous.

Pictures simply don’t do this car justice

I was expecting the handsome S90 with different bumpers and a lovely paint job. What I arrived to was arguably, one of the sexiest 4 door sedans on sale today. It’s kind of like going on a blind date knowing that the other person has a sterling personality but realising upon arrival, that he/she is way out of your league…

Now initially, my question was why? Why would a Volvo owner want what is essentially a pimped out S90?    Volvo buyers have historically been more mature buyers.  In 2005 the average Volvo owner was 47 years old and In a 2014 Chinese survey Volvo owners were seen to be “highly educated, valuable members of society who are family-oriented…”

With the latest range of award-winning cars, Volvo has aimed to shirk the straight cut image and the latest range has made young upwardly mobile individuals sit up and take notice.  So with this in mind Polestar versions and now the S90 R-Design makes much more sense.

Our test car was priced at R966 600 which is about R144 000 dearer than the standard S90 D5. Options can be purchased seperatly, but when buying the R-Design pack, owners can save up to R32 000.


Inside the interior is more sporty, the seats firmer and there’s lots of carbon fibre detailing to give S90 R-Design a much more youthful feel. The Swedish ergonomics carries over to the R-Design and everything simply falls to hand. The interior of any modern Volvo is an incredibly pleasant place to be.


The optional 19 speaker Bowers and Wilkens audio system made me want to be in the car longer than necessary just to hear the end of whatever song I was listening to.  Take Queens remastered version of Another One Bites the Dust;  I could hear the wooden drumstick as it made contact with the hi-hat. It’s this kind of attention to detail that carries over into every component of the S90. Wonderful.

How does it drive?

R-Design trades off a few percentile points of comfort for street cred, the seats are a tad harder but offer much more support.  The steering is sharper and the suspension is a bit more taught. The giant 21″ wheels aren’t as pliant, but this is all compared to the standard S90 which is just incredibly comfortable. The grip generated by the 245/21 inch tyres is immense and one doesn’t really get to explore the handling much. The grip levels are just too high when matched to the 173kW diesel engine.

The D5 pushes out 480Nm of torque and I dare say this engine feels more refined than the T6 petrol version.



R-Designs biggest hurdle is that it will be compared to the S90, just like I have done. But when looked at in isolation, and when purchased or test driven by the right buyer, this car is so well suited to the job of driving well and looking great while doing so.

I doubt Volvo will sell many of these cars, but for those that buy it, they can be happy in the knowledge that not only do they have a great car but exclusivity as well.




Road Tests

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