Volvo S90 review - Interior, design and technology
Distinctive, stylish and nicely finished
Volvo has a reputation for square, boxy styling - but the S90 uses the evolution of that design principle to stand out from the rest of the executive saloons on the market.
At the front of the car, the S90 gets the latest styling cues - as seen on the XC90 - with a convex grille and LED daytime running lights that include the ‘Thor’s hammer’ motif.
The standard wheels are 17-inchers on the D4 Momentum editions, rising to 18-inch items on all versions of Inscription - but Volvo offers a range of 19 and 20-inch wheels as options on all trim levels. The S90 looks a better match for S line Audis and M Sport BMWs when it’s on the bigger wheels, but 18-inchers probably strike the best blend of appearance and ride quality.
There are 12 metallic paint finishes on offer, alongside the only non-cost colour, a flat white.
You’ll recognise lots of the S90’s cabin if you’ve already had a peek inside an XC90. The basic design is very similar, and so is the high-quality finish; the S90 is a fine example of refined Swedish design, with pleasing use of natural materials like wood on the centre console and dashboard.
More reviews for S90 saloon
Leather seats come as standard even on Momentum cars, while Inscription versions get a posher Nappa material. There are harder, scratchier plastics if you look hard enough - but in general, the bits you’ll interact with are nicely finished and, in the case of the switches, well damped.
Volvo’s Sensus infotainment screen dominates the dashboard. The nine-inch portrait-layout display is standard across the range - but the accompanying screen in the instrument panel varies depending on which trim level you go for. Momentum editions get a small readout between a conventional speedometer and rev-counter, but Inscription does away with the physical dials altogether in favour of a fully digital display.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
Volvo’s infotainment system is called Sensus. Regardless of which S90 you choose, its nine-inch, portrait-layout display dominates the dashboard. It plays a far more significant role in the car’s functions than just music and navigation, too; it controls many of the S90’s settings and everyday features like air-con and heating.
A system with that many functions has to be slick to be effective, and fortunately, Volvo’s interface is one of the best in the business. The screen is split up into large tabs and it’s pretty easy to move around between the different areas. When you are listening to music you’ll find the standard speaker system pretty decent - but Volvo has teamed up with hi-fi specialist Bowers & Wilkins to offer an upgraded system. It sounds terrific - even if it does cost around £3,000 to upgrade.
Sadly, it’s not as easy as it should be to plug in devices to the S90; there’s only a single USB socket up front, so if you’re sitting in the back you don’t even have the option of charging your smartphone, let alone playing any music through it.
In this review
- 1Volvo S90 reviewThe Volvo S90 is a handsome and well-equipped rival to German exec models, but is not quite as good to drive
- 2Engines, performance and driveExcellent cruising refinement, but the chassis feels either too stiff or too soft. Larger wheels dent ride quality, too
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsThe S90 T8 hybrid will provide low running costs, but you need to keep the battery charged up to make the most of it
- 4Interior, design and technology - currently readingDistinctive, stylish and nicely finished
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceBoot isn't the biggest in the class, but capable enough for most needs; rear seats can feel a little hemmed in
- 6Reliability and SafetyEngines and chassis are still new, but Volvo's new tech and four-cylinder engines are proving reliable