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S90, THOR’S NEW HAMMER

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Swedish literature can be differentiated from other national genres by its meticulous and exhaustive character development, juxtaposed against an expansive landscape. The story behind the development of new Volvo S90, like that of its fraternal twin, the new Volvo XC90, is no different: it’s all about character development. The result is an executive class sedan endowed with distinguished character and class.

 As an authentic expression of modern Scandinavian design, the new Volvo S90 ticks all the right styling boxes. Flying in the face of an industry seemingly intent on introducing ever-more drama (and plastic) to the exterior surface, the S90 is like a breath of fresh Scandinavian air with its somewhat reserved exterior styling.

In contrast, though, the headlights are more pronounced with their clever arrangement of the horizontal T-shaped LED lights, which Volvo calls “Thor’s hammer.” At the rear, the S90 makes an equally bold and beautiful statement with its dual stacked C-shaped taillights, thus creating a very distinctive look.

From the very first sketches, the S90 was designed with the user in mind. As such, the interior is a state-of-the-art marvel cloaked in clean yet functional styling with an emphasis on ease of use. The dashboard features a bare minimum of buttons as most functions are controlled via a large iPad-like touchscreen embedded in the centre console. A tiled menu system, which is truly intuitive, takes the effort out of personalisation and interaction. Volvo’s new Sensus system, which features both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, delivers connectivity with a range of useful cloud-based applications and services that can be operated via the touchscreen, the steering wheel controls, or the voice control system. The Volvo On Call smartphone application also provides remote access to many of the car’s convenience features, including pre-heating, location, and send-to-car navigation. This is the stuff that geeks live for, and tech-savvy users would kill for.

“Our idea was to bring something entirely new to this rather conservative segment and deliver a visual expression that exudes leadership and confidence on the exterior. On the inside we have taken the S90 to the next level, delivering a high-end luxury experience that promises comfort and control,” said Thomas Ingenlath, Senior Vice President Design at Volvo Car Group.

At the heart of the S90 is a versatile 4-cylinder turbocharged engine, developed by Volvo’s 4-cylinder Drive-E engine programme. As with the XC90, the same range of power options, all of them paired with Volvo’s Geartronic 8-speed automatic transmission that will be available in the S90 when it is launched in South Africa later this year. Optional powertrains include the baseline T5 (187 kW power and 380 Nm torque) and the imposing turbo- and supercharged T6 (236 kW power and 400 Nm torque), both of them all-wheel-drive. The two frugal diesel derivatives include the front-wheel-drive D4 (140 kW of power and 400 Nm of torque) and the all-wheel-drive D5 (165 kW of power and 470 Nm of torque).

The range-topping T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid sports the same turbo- and supercharged petrol engine as the T6, but with the added advantage of two additional electric motors, front and rear. Its three drive modes include EV (up to 120 km/h), Hybrid, and Power, in which the petrol engine and the electric motor combine to increase output to 300 kW and 620 Nm torque. For a zero emissions drive you can also drive the T8 for 40 kilometres on the electric motor alone. A full plug-in charge takes only about three-and-a-half hours. With amazing fuel consumption of just 2.5-l/100 km, and CO2 emissions of just 59 g/km, the T8 will leave your green friends, well, green with envy.

Making full use of Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture, the S90 shares all of its architecture with the ground breaking XC90, including powertrain, suspension, electronics interface and even the design language. The newer sedan, though, pushes the envelope further in terms of autonomous driving and collision avoidance.

The new Volvo S90 comes standard with Pilot Assist, an advanced semi-autonomous drive feature. The system can steer the car up to 50 km/h, and beyond that gives gentle steering inputs to keep the car properly aligned within lane markings up to highway speeds of around 130 km/h and no longer needs to follow another car.

The S90 also introduces a world first function to City Safety. Called Large Animal Detection, this technology employs low-speed forward-collision warning and automatic braking to help avoid a collision with large animals as well as pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles.

“The S90 is taking a big stride forwards in terms of driving dynamics, performance and ride. We have completely redesigned the Volvo driving experience from the ground up to deliver a sense of precision, engaging control and comfort,” said Dr Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President, Research & Development at Volvo Car Group.

The Volvo S90 will be launched at the Detroit Motor Show this month, and we hope to see it launched in South Africa in the third or fourth quarter of 2016. Depending on the exchange rate, we expect pricing to be on par with that of the XC90, starting from about R800,000 at the current rate.

We can’t wait to get our hands on this Swedish beauty!

Report by WILHELM LOOTS

Images @ QUICKPIC

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