Rather than major on driver engagement, the V90 remains a car that suits a more relaxed style of driving, and one that prioritises comfort and ease of use over and above any prominent dynamic streak. Drive it in such a manner, and you’ll find you’re far better placed to appreciate what this car is all about.

Naturally lightweight steering makes it easy to manoeuvre the V90’s striking 4.9m body in tight spots at low speed, and it is accurate and intuitive enough to build confidence out on the open road. The lowered yet still conspicuously comfort-oriented suspension distances you from smaller imperfections under wheel, while also ensuring body movements are kept in check. It also does well to minimise the destabilising effects of mid-corner impacts. Meanwhile, the car’s 245-section tyres and chassis work together to provide a level of grip and stability that never threatens to sap your confidence.

I think this rebalancing of Volvo’s plug-in hybrid powertrain suits the V90 so well that I would actually take a T6 over a T8. (Not that you can actually choose one). The T6’s relaxed gait and heightened refinement suit a big Volvo perfectly

If you ramp the V90 up to its sportiest Power drive mode, and flick its stubby little gear selector into B to increase the forcefulness of the regenerative braking system, it will competently facilitate a marginally more enthusiastic driving style. But push too hard and you’ll find that there’s little reward in challenging its chassis right to the limits of adhesion, and that those previously tied down body movements soon give way to notable amounts of float and lateral roll.

Not that we imagine many Volvo owners would mind this lack of inherent sporting prowess, but nonetheless we’d be remiss not to acknowledge it. And for all of those customers who might value an elevated sense of driver appeal and engagement, just as many will be attracted to the V90 for its sleek looks, eminent practicality, famed safety credentials and sublime ride comfort. More on which now.

Comfort and isolation

The smooth, silken manner in which the V90 lopes its way down a road is undoubtedly its greatest dynamic asset. There were reservations among our testers that the V90 R-Design’s large, sporting alloys and lowered suspension might count against it here, but after a few miles these were quickly dispelled.

In fact, you get the sense that a slightly tauter suspension set-up would actually play into this heavy plug-in hybrid model’s favour. At relaxed speeds, vertical body movements feel smartly contained over long-wave inputs, so you don’t perceive the car to be working too strenuously at all to keep itself level.

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At the same time, however, this control is backed up by a supple pillowiness that makes the V90 a remarkably comfortable car in which to tackle long, arduous journeys.

This serenity isn’t unceremoniously shattered at lower speeds, either. Run those attractive 20in alloys over poorly maintained sections of Tarmac and, while you can hear the suspension thumping away gently beneath you, such protests are never forceful or violent.

The car remains composed and quiet practically all of the time, with only the largest bumps and divots causing that calm mask to momentarily slip. The cabin is very well isolated on the motorway, too. Wind and road noise are present but distant, and the petrol motor fades away into the background with little drama.

According to our sound meter, the Volvo compares favourably enough against similarly sized rivals from Audi and BMW. At 70mph, it generates 66dB of cabin noise, compared with 65dB from an A6 Avant 40 TDI and 66dB from a BMW 520d saloon – both impressively refined machines themselves.

Assisted driving notes

Volvo has taken a serious approach to improving the safety of its vehicles. As a result, the V90 T6 Recharge gains practically every driver-assistance aid you could ask for, with adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance and pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection all included right out of the box.

Our car also came with Volvo’s optional £500 Driver Assist Pack, which adds Blind Spot Information System with Steer Assist, Cross Traffic Alert with Autobrake, and Rear Collision Mitigation functions. And, like all modern Volvos, the V90 is now electronically limited to a top speed of 112mph.

There can be no doubting the effectiveness with which these measures have been implemented, and they complement the V90’s positioning as a laid-back, comfortable cruiser smartly. You don’t feel quite as inclined to switch them off as you might in a BMW or an AMG-fettled Mercedes.

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