Volvo makes a ‘mighty’ statement with trendy, powerful V90

Company’s new model packs the latest in terms of gizmos and delivers on performance, safety

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 February, 2017, 4:00pm
UPDATED : Friday, 03 February, 2017, 8:54pm

Britain, 793. The Dark Ages: no English Premier League football, no street lights. Into this foggy, climatically noxious land so disdained by the Romans thunder the Very Violent Vikings (Gothenburg chapter), a gang of oversized, hirsute blokes so tough they wear the horns on the insides of their helmets.

Leading the charge west (not east, as in real history) are Erik, Ingvar, Leif and Trevor, all out for a bit of general mayhem of the lock-up-your-daughters kind. Britain is going berserk, plummeting pell-mell into the sort of rabid anti-Europeanism it won’t see again until Brexit.

But just imagine: what if those exquisite, shallow-draught longships had hit the beaches like a force of landing craft? What if Erik and his hairy mates had taken Britain by storm in a motorised division … of Volvos?

As they drove around, rather than yelling and cursing and pillaging their way through the place, but pointing out a site for a future self-assembly furniture warehouse here, a Spam café there, tossing Malmö Limpic Stout empties into the generously proportioned boot, Erik and chums would have accelerated Western civilisation (assuming that to be a good thing) by 500 years or so. That is because the ubiquitous Volvo is such a civilising apparatus. Skull smashers or not, even the Vikings would have gone all pipe-and-slippers while experiencing the relaxing comforts of a car designed to soothe, placate and charm the blood-splattered axes right out of their meaty hands.

So today, for example, how many road-ragers do you find driving Volvos? See what I mean? The company has stayed true to its pedigree and still produces cars that smooth out the bumps in the road while lowering your blood pressure. And this is indubitable when it comes to the remodelled, agile V90 – a five-door, five-adult “luxury” estate, as Volvo trumpets it.

Adaptive Cruise Control makes sure you keep your distance and means you can slip into your preferred driving position and relax, because you are never going to hit anyone in front. Or anywhere else, considering the car’s multi-layered collision avoidance hardware and software. Volvo’s distinctive Thor’s Hammer headlight design, in a sideways T shape, ensures you won’t blindside anyone at night.

Volvos are built tough and the low-slung V90 is already a favourite with crash test dummies everywhere, being, like its predecessors, one of the safest places to be in the unlikely event of an emergency. That is not to say it is spartan, or all cake and no marzipan: far from it, with its warm walnut fascia and door trims, leather-bound, small and racy steering wheel, and breathable Nappa leather pews throughout. Those seats can be cooled or heated, and if your inner hippie fancies a Helios and sky salutation, just slide open the oversized sunroof.

Volvo’s Sensus “infotainment” and navigation system features the usual electronic toys – Android Auto and Apple CarPlay among them – all controlled through a nine-inch vertical touch screen. Exceptional sound quality is underwritten by Bowers & Wilkins’ peerless speakers … all 19 of them.

Erik and chums would surely have collected more roadkill than an Australian on holiday; and should you, despite all the safety gizmos, somehow contrive to hit a moose, you will have no trouble taking it home for the barbecue thanks to the V90’s 1,526-litre luggage compartment.

Up front, under the long and patrician bonnet of the T6 all-wheel-drive model, purrs a turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine that produces 320hp and moves the car from zero to 100km/h in an impressive 6.1 seconds, en route to a top speed of 250km/h. Fuel consumption figures for this direct rival to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate, listed by Volvo at HK$849,800, are 100km per 7.2 litres of petrol. The front-wheel drive T5, costing HK$649,800, returns only slightly shoddier overall results.

The V90 could well prove to be all things to most men (and women): although it’s what Americans call a “wagon” its steering is sporty, responsive and even twitchy. And were you to take it off road it would no doubt scoff at the challenge, gleefully bouncing around on its 21-inch wheels, flexible chassis and, in the case of the T6, air suspension system, which adjusts the vehicle’s level in accordance with the height of the ground.

And Volvos are built to last. The V90 is the beefier, better-fed descendant of each generation of a car that’s taken 60 years of refinement to reach this zenith of practicality and style. I should know: my regular drive is a liberally dented 15-year-old V40, in which the interior roof trim is held up with drawing pins, the bad-tempered stereo works through the rear speakers only, if at all, the dashboard warning lights flash like a Christmas tree and a poltergeist thrashes around in the glove box when the air conditioning operates. And mechanically, it is still almost perfect. The other day I found a lump of rock wedged below the rear seats, carved, but in Old Norse. According to Bing Translator it reads: “Erik wuz ’ere”.