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Driven: Volvo takes aim with S90

Swede escape: The Volvo S90 will be joined in Australia by its V90 sibling in the first half of 2017.

Prestige and mainstream brands in Volvo S90 crosshairs

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Volvo logo12 Oct 2016

By TIM NICHOLSON

VOLVO Car Australia says it new S90 sedan will attract new customers to the brand, including owners of traditional big Australian-built sedans who will soon be looking for an imported alternative.

The S90 is on sale now priced from $79,900 plus on-road costs, but the Swedish-built premium offering was not always a lock for the Australian market.

Speaking with GoAuto at the sedan’s media launch in Victoria’s Yarra Valley this week, Volvo Car Australia managing director Kevin McCann admitted that the company was considering whether it should introduce the S90, given the relatively low volumes in the premium large sedan segment.

“We are naturally driven to achieve volume, but equally, we have to look at it in a big picture sense,” he said. “It is a car that is important to the range because of what it says about the brand. In that sense, we didn’t ask the question for too long.

“People are aware that it exists, they will want to know more about it. And there are still buyers who will change their minds about buying another brand because of what we offer.”

While the natural rivals for the S90 are the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5 Series, Audi A6, Jaguar XF and smaller players such as the Lexus GS and Infiniti Q70, Mr McCann said Volvo hoped to appeal to buyers looking for a new large sedan option following the end of production of the Ford Falcon, Holden Commodore and Toyota Aurion.

“Although it is at the very upper end, we see some opportunity with the big Australian-built sedans being phased out over the next two years,” he said.

“We think some of those people are buying those sorts of cars out of loyalty to a brand, but they can afford something bigger and better and I think we fit into that. There will be some customers there that will be attracted by what we offer.”

Mr McCann said he expected the S90 to account for about 15 to 20 sales a month in Australia, but predicted that the mechanically identical V90 wagon and its jacked-up V90 Cross Country sibling would lift its fortunes in the segment.

“We think the sedan segment is quite small and wagon is minuscule. However, because of the history of Volvo in wagons and the attractiveness of the V90 and V90 Cross Country, we think we might lead a resurgence in that segment.

“I won’t put a number on the table today but we are quietly optimistic that our brand will add significantly to this segment.”

Mr McCann denied that the V90 and V90 Cross Country that will arrive in the first half of next year would eat into sales of the related XC90 SUV launched last year.

“Customers will be making a choice between the wagon or an SUV,” he said. “I don’t see, necessarily, that it is going to cannibalise, because we will offer both of our products to customers of other brands as well. And hopefully use both models to attract new people to our brand.”

As previously reported the S90 initially will be offered in two specifications with four powertrains, starting with the front-wheel-drive petrol T5 and diesel D4 Momentum from $79,900 and $82,400 respectively.

The more generously equipped all-wheel-drive Inscription is available in D5 diesel from $96,900 and T6 petrol from $98,900.

The Inscription variants are currently the only S90s available, with Momentum versions arriving in November. The sporty looking R Design spec will go on sale in the first quarter of 2017, followed by the T8 plug-in hybrid.

Among the standard equipment offered in Momentum guise are a four-zone climate control system with an Interior Air Quality System, keyless start, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, power front seats with driver side memory, a power opening bootlid, iron ore décor inlay, ‘Thor’s hammer’ LED headlights with an auto bending function, Moritz leather upholstery and 18-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels.

Standard safety gear at this level includes adaptive cruise control with the company’s semi-autonomous Pilot Assist system, a lane keeping aid, park assist and the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS).

The S90 is also offered with Volvo’s Run-Off Road Mitigation, which detects the edge of the road as well as painted lines to help keep the vehicle from spearing off the bitumen between 65km/h and 140km/h.

Also available is an enhanced version of the City Safety autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system now features large animal detection to avoid the likes of a horse, cow or elk. Testing for kangaroo detection is underway.

Stepping up to the T6 or D5 Inscription adds all-wheel drive traction, keyless entry as well as start, linear walnut décor inlay, ambient interior lighting, Nappa leather upholstery and 19-inch 10-spoke wheels.

Volvo offers a $3000 optional technology pack that adds DAB digital radio, a 360-degree camera, a head-up display and Apple CarPlay. Android Auto is on the way in a few months.

The S90 is offered with four 2.0-litre powertrains from Volvo’s four-cylinder turbocharged Drive-E family.

It starts with the 140kW at 4250rpm and 400Nm 1750-2500rpm D4 diesel in Momentum guise. This completes the 0-100km/h dash in 8.2 seconds, has combined cycle fuel consumption of 4.1 litres per 100km and CO2 emissions of 109g/km.

The D5 diesel – available now in the all-wheel-drive Inscription – pumps out 173kW at 4000rpm and 480Nm at 1750-2250rpm, consumes 5.1L/100km and emits 133g/km of CO2, while doing the 0-100km/h dash in 7.3s.

The petrol T5 produces 187kW at 5500rpm and 350Nm of torque between 1500-4800rpm, can hit 100km/h in 6.8s and consume 6.5L/100km. CO2 emissions data was unavailable.

In T6 guise, the S90 pumps out 235kW at 5700rpm and 400Nm from 2200-5400rpm, for a 5.9s 0-100km/h dash and 7.2L/100km fuel consumption.

Topping the range later in 2017 will be the 304kW/640Nm T8 Twin Engine petrol-electric plug-in AWD flagship, using a rear-mounted electric motor to drive the back axle, while a 235kW/400Nm 2.0-litre petrol unit takes care of the front.

All variants use an Aisin-built eight-speed automatic transmission.

The S90 is built on Volvo’s SPA modular platform that will also underpin the next-generation S/V60 and XC60.

2016 Volvo S90 pricing*
T5 Momentum (a)$79,900
D4 Momentum (a)$82,400
D5 Inscription AWD (a)$96,900
T6 Inscription AWD (a)$98,900
*Excludes on-road costs

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