Good: stands out from the crowd, feels well finished inside.
Not so good: expensive compared to premium rivals.
Over the last few years Volvo has become synonymous with premium SUVs, but when it comes to estates, the Swedish car maker still has a strong game. The V90's striking design, overseen by Thomas Ingenlath, has a simplicity to it that gives the impression of it being hewn from one single billet of high-end metal. It has the same front and mid-section as the impressive Volvo S90 saloon, but gets an alternative treatment at the rear, thus doing away with the S90's only awkward aspect - its rear lights. In the V90 they're more like the taller XC90 SUV's, which is a good thing.
That boot space, at 560 litres, is good, but not the gargantuan amount we've often come to expect from large, boxy Volvo estate cars. Some of that space is clipped off due to the desire for the design team to give the car a sloped rear window. That also precludes the car from the prospect of an additional two rear seats that were once a common theme of supersized estate cars. The better news is that you can fold down the rear seats to expand cargo capacity to 1,526 litres.
Nonetheless, we think few V90s will ever be used for lugging rubbish to the tip or carrying the stereotypical flat-pack furniture home from a well-known chain of aptly Swedish stores. Certainly not in this range-topping Inscription specification. Its wood panelling across the dashboard and centre console, combined with light tan leather upholstery, assures you that this is a car much more about premium refinement than lugging bulky items around.
Indeed, it is that refinement that Volvo executes so well in the V90. Every surface you look at and touch feels expensive, much like the car. In this specification, which has a few extra boxes ticked (such as the €3,800 Sensus Connect with Bowers and Wilkins stereo) it tips the scale at close to €65,000. Volvo is certainly placing itself in the premium sphere these days.
The D4 model is the mid-level diesel choice and, paired with the eight-speed automatic transmission (a €2,500 extra) makes for a rather palatable combo in the big estate. Its 190hp ensures there's enough in reserve for overtakes, but this is more a car for comfortable cruising. Sticking to the motorway speed limit will see some respectable fuel economy figures roll in and, combined with the €200 annual motor tax bill, should keep the V90's running costs down.
Some of that fuel economy is possible because of this V90 using a front-wheel-drive setup. You can choose to have all-wheel drive by upgrading to the more powerful D5 engine, or if you plan on venturing further off the beaten track, there is the more rugged V90 Cross Country to consider. For the most part, this D4 model will suit those keen on Sweden's luxury estate.
On the move, the engine is somewhat muted. The automatic transmission tends to get up towards the higher gears quickly, which helps keep engine speeds and the associated din to a minimum. Its ride quality, even on the 19-inch wheels of our test car, is composed and supple. Compared to a BMW 5 Series, for example, it doesn't feel quite as agile or dynamic, yet over a busy surface it holds its own. There's a nice balanced weight to the steering and even the wheel itself feels lovely in your hands.
But it's not merely the driving experience that is likely to make you want to own this car. Throughout it there are numerous details and touches that mark this out against some of the more mainstream rivals. Some may wince at the pricing as they make their way down the options list of the V90, but unlike some car makers, when you do load one of these up, it looks and feels worth the money.