This is deeply desirable, well appointed and likeable family transport, which should come as no surprise if you’ve read any other of Autocar’s reviews of the V90 since it was launched in 2017. What it still isn’t, however, is capable of truly satisfying enthusiastic drivers.
As with most executive estates at this price point, speccing the V90 is a fine art. While the D4 and D5 are still important range mainstays, buyer’s attention is gradually turning to the petrol models across the board. The T5 has the potential to be the best compromise in terms of performance, price and economy.
The 247bhp on tap puts the V90 right in the firing line of rivals such as the identically powered Jaguar XF Sportbrake 25t and BMW 530i Touring. While we bemoan the T5’s loss of a cylinder in this guise, both of those rivals are also propelled by four-pots, despite their names perhaps suggesting otherwise.
The Volvo’s 2.0-litre unit majors on refinement over excitement, which is in keeping with the rest of the car. It fires up almost imperceptibly and remains utterly smooth and unobtrusive throughout most of its rev band, only becoming raucous at the upper end, where few owners are likely to regularly venture. It’s a more appealing prospect than the diesel for around-town mooching, and it fits in well with the V90’s already impressive high-speed noise isolation.
Outright performance is respectable rather than outstanding. It picks up strongly enough once the sometimes-hesitant gearbox has chosen a ratio, partly thanks to the inclusion of Volvo’s clever PowerPulse tech, which uses a compressor to inject cold air into the exhaust manifold and spool the turbocharger more rapidly.
However, the near 100lb ft torque deficit of this petrol over the D5 diesel is still evident, with notably more revs and effort required to get it up to speed yet little reward (in terms of acceleration or aural enjoyment) for extending it beyond 4500rpm.
One surprising element of the T5’s stat list is that it doesn’t lose out in the official economy figures to the T4, which is nearly two seconds slower in the 0-60mph sprint. We managed a fair but not remarkable 31mpg in mixed driving - that’s about 15mpg less than we’d expect from the D5 over the same route.
The fact that the T5 makes serene progress and isn’t particularly fast means that it’s a good fit for the big Volvo’s dynamics. A few hundred yards is all it takes for you to realise that this is a different proposition to the XF, with a disconnected feel to the steering and a soft, plushily damped ride. An occasional brittleness around town is most likely due to our test car’s 20in wheels, but with the adaptive dampers and optional rear suspension fitted, the V90 is one of the more cosseting executive estates.