Volvo S90: The Sensus Connect enables intelligent messaging and personalised content.

Volvo S90: The Sensus Connect enables intelligent messaging and personalised content.

Although not a direct successor to the Volvo S80, the S90 replaces it as the flagship in the Swedish carmaker's line-up. Continuing QUBE/just-auto's review of interior design and technology trends, we take a closer look inside this luxury sedan. 

Inside story

Like other Volvos we have taken out and about, the powered, heated and lumbar adjustable seats are both supportive yet comfortable on long journeys. The leather seating is certainly easy on the eye, blending inlays with a perforated look and contrasting stitching. The cabin is covered by a charcoal headliner which, combined with privacy side glazing, creates snug rear seating.

The instrument cluster springs to life as you enter the S90, displaying all the usual and critical driver information. Built-in light sensors control the brightness of the display that adjusts to exterior lighting conditions. The iPad style nine-inch touchscreen conveys the non-critical information. In making the distinction, Volvo calls this the 'now and whenever' approach, reflecting the importance of the information that is displayed. The touchscreen, flanked by a pair of vertical chrome air vents, can also be operated wearing gloves (we tried it). Everything is within easy reach.  Starting the engine requires just a twist of a quirky on/off switch located on the centre console.

Forward visibility is fairly good with no major blind spots to get bothered about. Although there is ample headroom for the driver and front seat passenger, six-footers sitting in the back will brush their heads on the headliner while those seated centre back may grumble at the poor levels of comfort for this class. The interior lighting provides a theatre illumination feel to the cabin, using LED lamps dotted around.

Storage-wise, the S90 has plenty of cubby holes with two cup holders in the front and rear. We also like the attention to detail.  For example, the storage bins are fitted with soft-close lids and the sides of the centre console are lined with flocking to avoid grazing your knuckles as you buckle up your seat belt. The S90 holds 500 litres with the 60/40 rear seats in place, while standard split-folding backrests mean it's possible to take loads of up to 197.8 cm in length. All versions of the model come with a power-operated boot lid.

Connectivity

Incorporated across the Volvo range is its 'Sensus Connect'. This cloud-based service allows the driver to find and pay for parking from the car, find a restaurant, stream favourite music and a few more things besides. The driver can also have text messages read out loud without taking their hands off the wheel.

Also falling under the auspices of Sensus Connect is Volvo On Call allowing drivers to communicate directly with their car via an app to lock, unlock, check fuel levels, locate and check the mileage on the car.  It is also possible to start the engine remotely using an app.

As part of Volvo's Sensus technology, In-car delivery is a new service that allows online orders to be delivered directly to the boot of any Volvo. Using the carmaker's On Call service, In-car delivery allows single-time access for depositing items such as groceries or dry-cleaning in the boot of a parked car. It essentially turns a car into a preferred delivery address. You can also send a destination directly to the car's sat-nav so it's all ready to go when you get into the car.  And the S90 can be used as a wi-fi hotspot via an integrated modem and SIM card with mobile data allowance.

The voice-activated control system is designed to understand some 300 instructions and popular phrases, enabling the driver to change radio stations, play music by a particular artist, control the cabin temperature or input an address to the sat-nav.

Audio system

Thanks to the laminated side windows, occupants can enjoy the Bowers & Wilkins sound system to a better degree. No fewer than 19 speakers are dotted around the cabin with an air-ventilated sub-woofer built into the chassis.

Advanced driver assistance systems

As we would expect, the S90 bristles with driver assistance technologies fitted as standard.  Its 'IntelliSafe Assist' technologies include adaptive cruise control, distance alert and Pilot Assist, a functionality that provides gentle steering input in the event of lane drifting on motorways. Our press review car included an IntelliSafe Surround option comprising a blind spot information system with steering assistance, cross-traffic alert with autobrake and rear collision mitigation.

Supply base

Supplier-wise, Adient is supplying seats for the S90. In addition, the supplier developed and integrated its rear seating, including its metal structures.

Sogefi announced last year that it had been awarded the contract to supply coolant pumps for future Volvo hybrid models. The pumps are built at its facility in Wujiang, China and fitted on the XC40, S60, V60, XC90, S90 and V90 models.

In April 2016, Valeo announced a 50:50 joint venture with Siemens to design, develop and produce high-voltage electric powertrains. The joint venture is headquartered in Erlangen, Germany and provides electric motors and inverters to the rear axle of the Volvo S90 and XC90 PHEVs.

The ride feels comfortable partly thanks to the standard composite leaf spring rear suspension.  After using composite transverse leaf springs first in the XC90, Volvo Cars divulged last year that it is using them on the S90 and V90 models. They're produced by Benteler-SGL using high-speed resin transfer moulding and Henkel's Loctite MAX 2 two-component polyurethane composite matrix resin. In the Volvos, the spring saves 4.5kg compared to steel coils, aids fuel efficiency and provides a smoother ride and improved NVH. There is also less trunk space intrusion compared with vertical coil spring suspension. Henkel claims its resin delivers short cycle times needed for high volume production of composite parts. Low viscosity liquid rapidly fills the mould and impregnates the fibre preform without disturbing its positioning. Benteler business development chief Frank Fetscher said: "The composite leaf springs are another example of how a close cooperation between our partner Henkel and us in development of new processes and matrix resins - as well as adhesives and binders - can lead to the successful large-scale production of new composite concepts."

On the road

While the S90 is a solid, safe and sensible choice, it comes bursting with appealing spec. It also has plenty of style and road presence, sprinting from A to B with ease. It includes all of the traditional Volvo strengths you would expect plus a few more to boot. The clean-looking cabin design ticks all the boxes and the build quality cannot be faulted. While our drive insulated us from the outside world, it also felt cossetted and poised at every turn, providing a fabulous driving experience.

And finally, it is worth noting that Volvo Cars maintained a strong sales momentum last month, with global volumes up 11.6 per cent, compared with the same period last year. More specifically, its sales in China were up 26.7 per cent, over the period to 14,502 cars. The strong growth in the region was led by the demand for the locally produced XC60, the S90 and the XC40. UK-market S90s are built on Daqing, China. The fleet and retail UK sales split is around 55% and 45%, respectively. Its rivals include the likes of the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

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