From £32,350
The long-wheelbase Volvo saloon isn't available in the UK, but we had a go in one anyway to see what we're missing out on

Our Verdict

Volvo S90

Sweden guns for Germany’s big-hitters with a new full-sized exec

31 July 2017

What is it?

Volvo managed a great deal of media mileage out of its electrification of the future model line-up announcement but, in China, the longest-ever Volvo doesn’t even get Start/Stop technology to help reduce fuel consumption. The Chinese-built S90 long wheelbase (LWB) adds 12cm to both the wheelbase and overall length of the standard S90.

In the early days of Chinese ownership of the marque, there was tension between the Chinese and Swedish sides. Owners Geely Holdings wanted to concentrate on larger, more luxurious cars to compete against the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6 in China, whereas the Swedes wanted to concentrate on smaller, more mass-market models. As the S90 LWB shows, despite the 'Thor's hammer' running lights and the small Swedish flag on the front passenger seat, the Chinese side won. And it is no bad thing.

Chinese-produced versions of the 5 Series, A6 and E-Class, and now even the Jaguar XF, all get the long wheelbase treatment. In this sector, it is common for owners to be chauffeured. Moreover, these cars do not tend to be used as family vehicles, therefore rear passengers are mostly adults. As such, the S90 LWB fits right in, with all the extra space going to the back occupants. 

The S90 LWB isn't coming to the UK or even Europe. But, as a China and US-only affair, it will fit in with the growing crowd of stretched saloons.

What's it like?

Apart from being obviously big, the S90 LWB is refined and comfortable; but, unlike some of its rivals, it lacks sporting credentials. The T5’s 2.0-litre turbo petrol unit pumps out a very respectable 254bhp and, on paper, Volvo claims a 0-62mph time of 7.2sec. However, in real life, it just never seems that quick. Unlike BMW models, the Eco and Comfort modes on the eight-speed automatic transmission make little discernable difference and it is only really when you select Dynamic that the car ups its game. Even then, you have to push the pedal hard to get much build-up in speed. While there is a semi-manual mode on the gearbox, unlike its German rivals, there are no paddle shifts.

It is not poised in the way of a BMW or Jaguar and is more akin to a non-RS spec Audi. The steering is light with very little feedback. While road holding is reasonable, the car screams comfort over thrills, as evidenced by the ride, which tends to soak up most ruts in the road.

The front of the passenger compartment is largely the same as the Swedish-built examples, although the car is 11mm narrower. Our car had a darker brown Nappa leather trim that nicely matched the opulent walnut veneer. Despite the high level of material finish, the leather seemed to mark easily. With higher driving positions, the top of the head-up display became difficult to see. 

For the full chauffeur-driven experience, you need to move to the rear right passenger seat. Mounted on the door handle is an array of controls. These allow the user to move the front passenger seat and control the panoramic sunroof and blinds on the rear passenger and back windows. Mounted on the back of the centre tunnel console are controls for the heating and cooling of the rear seats along with a 220V standard power socket. While the front seats get a massage function, given the target market this is surprisingly absent from the rear. 

Should I buy one?

The S90 LWB looks more balanced than the standard model and has top-notch quality. A thorough examination of the interior only revealed a troublesome catch on the rear armrest. However, the navigation system also seems slow to recognise addresses. For passengers, it is a comfortable, cosseting environment, but for the driver it fails to excite. Fuel economy is also terrible; the best we achieved was 21mpg; although, admittedly, much of the driving was on inner-city highways in very hot weather.

However, while some standard S90s are being built in China for the European market, Volvo has not announced plans to bring the LWB version over to Europe. For now, it is only available in China and, from 2018, in the US.

Volvo S90 LWB T5 Inscription

Location Shanghai; On Sale Now (China); Price RMB551,800 (£62,705); Engine 4 cyls in line, 1969cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 254bhp at 5500rpm; Torque 350Nm at 1500-4800rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic Kerb weight 1771kg; 0-62mph 7.2sec; Top speed 144mph; Economy 40mpg (7.1l/100km); CO2 and tax band unknown

Mark Andrews

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Comments
10

31 July 2017

Actually the main reason for long wheelbase cars in this segment is not because many are chauffeured. Whilst some people do get chauffeured, the primary driving force behind a desire for LWB cars in China is out of respect for the parents of the driver who will sit in the back of the car and therefore should be granted more space.

Also, 'peddle'? Let's do a small exercise in sub-editing and see who in a car industry magazine can find the correct spelling.

31 July 2017

Stretched Volvo saloon isnt sporting,  its a stretched Volvo saloon ffs, designed for the backseat passengers comfort and enjoyment, not the drivers. 

31 July 2017

But surely it was tested on the Nurburgring? If not why not? All the other manufacturers think this is necessary. ahh, it isn't is it.

Sporting is not always a good thing. My v70 estate is as sporty as a Sofa. It wallows and leans, but blimey is it comfortable. And it is all the better for it. Probably like this Volvo.

Apart from the "Even then, you have to push the peddle hard to get much build-up in speed." bit which made me laugh, peddle as in sell, or pedal as in foot operated lever :) this seems to be a well balanced article, and stating it is not sporty does show the character of the car, relaxed and refined.

Spanner

31 July 2017
Spanner wrote:

But surely it was tested on the Nurburgring? If not why not? All the other manufacturers think this is necessary. ahh, it isn't is it.

Sporting is not always a good thing. My v70 estate is as sporty as a Sofa. It wallows and leans, but blimey is it comfortable. And it is all the better for it. Probably like this Volvo.

Apart from the "Even then, you have to push the peddle hard to get much build-up in speed." bit which made me laugh, peddle as in sell, or pedal as in foot operated lever :) this seems to be a well balanced article, and stating it is not sporty does show the character of the car, relaxed and refined.

i see autocar have corrected their mistake.

Spanner

31 July 2017
This is superb but I still prefer mercedes

31 July 2017
Still only 2 proper seats in the rear . Unforgivable in my eyes for a huge luxury saloon , at least the new 5 can take 3 comfortably across the rear bench.

31 July 2017
Sundym wrote:

Still only 2 proper seats in the rear.

 

A bit like a Bentley Mulsanne, a 7 series, an S -Class or a RR Ghost then

31 July 2017

"although the car is 11mm narrower"...really? that seems like an awful lot of engineering for such a tiny amount of space in the regular car.

1 August 2017

For when times are hard, a tuned 2.0 4 pot like the one in the £18,000 V40.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

1 August 2017

For when times are hard, a tuned 2.0 4 pot like the one in the £18,000 V40.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

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