Given the V90’s size and premium positioning, it’s easy to sympathise with those who would bemoan the lack of a six-cylinder unit from its engine line-up. But as tempting as it is to visualise a big Volvo with a BMW 30d- or 40i-rivalling engine, this particular V90’s four-cylinder, petrol-electric powertrain nonetheless endows it with an appealing level of easy-going performance.
It’s certainly as quick as you would realistically need it to be, if not quite as rich-sounding or mellifluous under load as those larger engines. Plant your foot in the default Hybrid driving mode and the electric motor’s modest torque reserves provide strong initial urgency, before the engine steps in to really get things going. There’s a slight accelerative lull as the motor runs out of shove and the eight-speed transmission takes a second to kick down, but this window of hesitation is narrower than it is in other PHEVs and doesn’t adversely affect overall drivability.
An average 0-60mph time of 5.6sec is respectable and matches Volvo’s claimed time exactly. A 30-70mph time of 4.9sec is impressive too, particularly when you consider that the considerably lighter BMW 330d Touring needed 5.2sec. But as punchy as the Volvo’s petrol-electric powertrain is, on the grounds of in-gear tractability, it can’t match the sheer muscle provided by the BMW’s torque-rich six-cylinder diesel engine. Locked in fourth gear, the V90 required 8.4sec to accelerate from 30-70mph, whereas the 330d needed just 5.8sec.
Yet an overt focus on athleticism has never really been Volvo’s style, and when you drive the V90 in a more laid-back, relaxed fashion, it truly is very easy to get along with. With no supercharger to speak of, its 2.0-litre petrol engine sounds smoother and slightly less frenetic than those that have appeared in older T8 Twin Engine models, while the manner in which the V90 juggles its electric and combustion power sources is impressively smooth too.
Switch to the electric Pure drive mode and the V90 is particularly enjoyable to waft around town in. There’s enough poke to help make the most of gaps in the traffic, but any attempts at sustained acceleration runs will see the petrol engine spark back into life.