New Volvo V90 D5 Momentum review

The Volvo V90 has already impressed us with its classy cabin and refined drive, but how does the higher-powered D5 diesel fare on UK roads?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

With the more powerful D5 engine, the Volvo V90 is an excellent executive estate: it's fast, comfortable, practical and feels very upmarket inside. The boot isn't the biggest in its class, which sounds unusual for a Volvo, but there's loads of space for passengers and the load space is still competitive in its class. The comfortable ride, especially on these 18-inch wheels, is a big plus in the UK as well. We'd still go for the D4, though: the four-cylinder D5 can't match six-cylinder diesel units for smoothness, so you're better off saving money and going for the cheaper model.

The new Volvo V90 has finally arrived in the UK, and has already beaten the Audi A6 in our twin test. That comparison was for the lower-powrered D4 version, however, now we've tested the 232bhp D5 Powerpulse model, which features some clever engine tech to reduce turbo lag. But can the powerful four-cylinder diesel compete with six-cylinder rivals?

It certainly has the figures: the 232bhp figure is significantly higher than the similarly-priced Audi A6 Avant's 3.0-litre V6 diesel, which develops 215bhp. The Volvo beats it for torque too, with the 480Nm figure being much higher than the Audi's 400Nm. The performance figures are almost identical, though, with the Volvo getting from 0-62mph in 7.2 seconds.

Volvo V90 vs Audi A6 Avant

The four-cylinder Volvo diesel unit uses new tech called Powerpulse, which uses an air compressor to spool up the turbo ready for a launch from a standstill. Unlike an equivalent Audi, the D5 gets four-wheel drive as standard too, so off-the-line performance is excellent.

Where the Volvo's power unit loses out is on refinement, however. While it's reasonably well insulated, there's still a strained, unpleasant rumble if you rev it hard. It feels powerful, and certainly means overtaking is easy, but it lacks the smooth and luxurious feeling you get from a bigger engine.

Volvo S90 D5 review

It's not a huge problem, and with economy of 57.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 129g/km, for many buyers it'll be a small price to pay. A 3.0 TDI A6 Avant manages to beat those figures, though, with 58.9mpg available in the front-wheel drive version. For a four-wheel drive executive estate, though, the Volvo's efficiency figures are impressive. If you really need four-wheel drive, the Volvo is good value, too.

With a BIK rate of 25 per cent, some company car buyers might want to hang on until early 2017 for the T8 hybrid version. This will be even more powerful, going from 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds thanks to its 404bhp powertrain - and yet emits just 47g/km. It'll likely be quite a bit more expensive to buy, though.

We tested the V90 D5 in Momentum trim, running on 18-inch wheels. They look just as neat at the larger alloys, but compliment the V90's smooth ride - even on pitted UK roads. The excellent seats, comfy driving position and upmarket cabin all contribute to a superb feeling of comfort in the V90. It’s also very well equipped with standard leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, LED headlights, heated seats, an electrically-powered tailgate and Volvo’s fantastic infotainment screen.

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It's not the best in the segment to drive, with light steering and, as you might expect, quite a bit of body roll in corners. The V90 feels heavy and large, especially on tighter B-roads, so it can't compete with the agile BMW 5 Series, but it compares favourably with other cars in the segment such as the Audi A6. Plus, it's a great cruiser - and motorways are where execs spend most of their time in the UK. 

The cabin's luxurious feel, with quality materials and a neat, clean design, means it's a great place to spend time - and tech like the Drive Pilot system, which can keep you in a lane on the motorway at speeds up to 80mph, makes this a great commuter choice. The exterior is just as stylish as the cabin, with clean lines and a distinctive shape that sets it apart from the crowd. 

Best estate cars

Of course the V90 is an estate, which brings us to a problem we've discovered before: the boot just isn't as big as you'd expect. It's competitive, at 560 litres with the seats up and 1,526 with the seats down, but not even close to class-leading. It's a shame, given Volvo's image as a builder of huge estate cars, but the useful touches in the back, such as the flat load space and storage nets, hooks and electric tailgate go some way to make up for the smaller figures.

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