Volvo’s crown estate is firing on all cylinders as we test the new V90

Volvo ’s estate-making heritage goes back a long way and a succession of estate cars have had a reputation for toughness, reliability, versatility and safety.

In fact the Swedish car makers were turning out premium estate cars long before the likes of rivals like Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Following a period of wandering in the wilderness, Volvo seem to be firing on all cylinders again, with the growing family of SUVs blazing a trail for the brand.

The XC models probably get the most attention but if you want a traditional and capable estate with a quality feel then look no further than the V90.

The V90 is the successor to those classic Volvo estates like the 245 and 265, which were probably the ultimate in estate car ownership from the 1970s onwards.

Those classic Volvos have aged well and still look good now.

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The V90 might be less boxy than those ­load-luggers of old and as a consequence may be a little less cavernous when it comes to carrying capacity but it certainly looks good. Long and sleek, the Volvo designers have managed to deliver something which looks desirable but is also more than up to the job as a practical and family-friendly estate car.

It impresses on the inside too. Volvos have come on leaps and bounds in the interior department in recent years.

Fit and finish are exemplary and the switchgear, instrumentation and onboard technology are more than good enough to match premium rivals.

The dominating feature in the V90’s cabin is a large tablet-style touchscreen which controls everything from the satellite navigation system to the heating and air-conditioning and entertainment.

Engine-wise, buyers can choose between two 2.0-litre diesels (190 or 235bhp), a 2.0-litre petrol or a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid.

Given the diesel backlash, petrol cars have come back into vogue, particularly as technology has advanced to produce engines that are decidedly more lean and green than gas guzzling. The V90 might not be powered by one of the super small but efficient petrol units which have become increasingly popular but a four-cylinder 2.0-litre engine for a big estate car is still pretty small in relative terms.

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This T4 Euro VI engine is mated to an automatic gearbox as standard generating 190bhp and offering claimed fuel economy of 40.9mpg – slightly more in the S90 saloon.

T4 petrol models are available from entry-level Momentum to Inscription Pro form, and share the level of standard features as their diesel and petrol-electric hybrid siblings.

It is a capable unit that is easy to like. Smooth and refined it also has the kind of potency to give the V90 a real turn of pace.

The V90 rides nicely too and for what is ultimately quite a large and long vehicle it feels remarkably light and agile and when it comes to handling feels like something far smaller with a sporty focus.

Any big-car hang-ups are also diminished by some of the features which came on the optional extra Xenium pack (£2000) on this car.

Park Assist Pilot offers automatic parallel and 90 degree parking, which really does come in handy. There’s also a parking camera with 360 degree surround view. Again, it is something that’s useful and makes the everyday driving experience noticeably less stressful.


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