Breaking into the premium large luxury sedan market, that has been the playground of the German big three of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi for as long as I can remember, is almost impossible in South Africa.
There is that allure of these nameplates that simply just keep drawing customers into these brands regardless of the product on offer or the price. And make no mistake; the offer from the Germans is a good one most of the time. So for Volvo to make some inroads with their recently launched S90, it is going to need to be a rather special car.
Okay, so badge envy apart, which unfortunately is a big thing locally, the first divider is going to be the styling. I personally like the typically Scandinavian Volvo look of the S90, it offers something fresh and different in the very business-like world of the German offerings. But I am not sure how many others would agree with me, as I didn’t receive too many favourable comments when I was driving our test car.
Then when it comes to quality, cabin space, technology on board and safety, the S90 certainly does not have to stand back for the competition. And Volvo owners around the world are well aware of this, now if only the rest of the buying public in SA could figure this out.
On the inside, the new Volvo S90 is clearly related to the multi award winning XC90 with the likes of Sensus Connect, standard sat-nav, voice control, internet connectivity, high-end sound system system, Bluetooth, USB to name but some of tech alongside the open-pore wood, aluminium, leather and glass in abundance that ensures a classy and sophisticated feel.
So how does it perform? And here is probably going to be the next big divide. Volvo have decided to use only 2.0-litre four-cylinder powertrains in their S90 range, and if VW’s Amarok has taught us anything, South African’s take larger capacity cars over smaller capacity, even if the smaller capacity ones perform just as well and use less fuel while doing it.
Our test car was the T6 AWD Inscription Geartronic model that retails for R871 900 in standard trim and came in at R1 030 325 as tested. What this also means is that it runs the 2.0-litre four-cylinder (as already said) twin-charged petrol engine that produces a very decent 235kW of power and 400Nm of torque running through an exceptionally smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox.
The T6 AWD is claimed to get to 100km/h in 5.9 seconds and only stop at 250km/h. Now I never got to test these acceleration and top speed figures at Gerotek due to nonstop rain we experienced when I had the car. But 2.0-litre powertrain of the car felt more than up to the task of moving its occupants from A to B in a relative Volvo like hurry when asked to do so.
The fuel consumption claim is set at 7.2 litres per 100km. Of course I didn’t get that number, but I felt my 9.8 litres per 100km for the week I drove the car was not bad at all and far more in line with what I believe the average owner will get.
All models come standard with a five-year/ 100 000km full vehicle warranty, full maintenance plan and roadside assistance, as well as laminated glass and Tracker Connect as standard.
So to sum up as honestly as possible, excite you it never will, but the Volvo S90 offers you everything you could want, and then some, in a large luxury sedan. This car is well worth considering if you can just tear yourself away from the ingrained status offered by those other three!