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Volvo S90 R-Design (2016 - ) Review

Volvo’s sporty R-Design trim gets added to their S90 saloon lineup, so how does it compare to its rivals?

Starting price:
From £35,400

From £35,400
  • Luxurious, comfortable interior
  • Lots of rear legroom
  • Equipped with plenty of safety systems
  • Front seats aren’t electronically adjustable
  • Boot isn’t as large as some rivals
More On This Car
Take one for a spin or order a brochure
Request a Volvo S90 brochure
Request a Volvo S90 test drive


Volvo’s design team have come up with some stylish models of late, the XC90 started this new direction with the V90 estate and S90 saloon following closely behind. It’s been quite a turning point for the Swedish brand as finally it’s lost its tag of owners being over a certain age leading to its appeal is now gaining a much wider audience.

Their R-Design trim has always been aimed at those wanting a more sporty looking Volvo and they’ve now added it to their S90, so we took a drive of it to see whether it’s worth the extra money.

On The Road


Volvo now have a range of diesel engines, their new Drive-E ones which feature a 2.0-litre, four cylinder and we drove the D4 in the S90. Using a seamless, 8-speed automatic transmission it is sharp and responsive as the 190hp engine has 400Nm of torque to get it up to a top speed of 140mph and a 0-62mph time of 8.2 seconds.

The D5 PowerPulse produces 235hp with 480Nm of torque and takes just 7.0 seconds to get from 0-62mph ,which is not bad going for a saloon, but if you’re wondering what PowerPulse is then Volvo engineers have come up with it as a clever solution to get rid of that annoying turbo lag. That’s what we like to see.

The S90 comes with various driving modes including eco if you want to save on fuel and a sporty choice which alters the driving characteristics of the S90 depending on your mood.

Ride Handling

The ’90 series’ models are all built using their new SPA platform so it has a comfortable ride even on rough road surfaces. It’s an executive car so expect the drive to feel relaxing and very attuned to the Swedish way of thinking, their ethos is all about mixing comfort with luxury.

The R-Design does have a lowered sports chassis so it is reasonably agile considering it’s a car that’s just under five metres in length. When you go and find a piece of quiet road where you can really test the S90, you won’t be disappointed in what a great drive it is.


The Volvo S90 gives rival, premium manufacturers a run for their money in terms of refinement as the cabin is quiet, well insulated from the engine and road noise and the leather and nubuck sports seats are comfortable and supportive, although the downside is to move them forward and back they’re aren’t electronically adjustable. Considering the trim we expected them to be.

What stands this trim out from the other two in the range is the unique, gloss black mesh grille and bumper inlays, larger air intakes and dual integrated exhaust pipes, while a Bursting Blue paint colour is also unique to the R-Design trim.

In The Car

Behind the Wheel

As with the XC90 and V90 what catches your eye as soon as you step inside the car is the iPad looking 9-inch touchscreen which dominates the centre stack. By having all media, car settings, navigation and temperature displayed on this then it negates the need for lots of buttons and dials. It’s easy to use with a swiping motion, but it can be a struggle to adjust your individual temperature when you’re driving.

Now available for smartphone users is Android Auto which joins Apple CarPlay and their Volvo on Call system is also nifty as it can lock and unlock it for you, even set navigation before you get anywhere near the car.

The stylish interior also features a simple, crystal clear driver’s TFT instrument panel which is 12.3-inches in size so has plenty of information whilst you’re driving.

The S90 R-design also comes with DAB radio, Bluetooth, a USB and Aux point, keyless start, black headlining, sports pedals and illuminated front and rear tread plates.

Space & Practicality

The Volvo S90 has plenty of space, there is loads of head and legroom in the front and rear passengers will be spoilt with the amount of legroom they too will have. The driver might have been of average height when we drove it but we could stretch our legs out with space leftover.

The rear armrest has storage with cupholders while those up front have a sliding covered compartment between them.

The electronically operated bootlid reveals a large boot at 500-litres but it’s not as good as the rival Jaguar XF which holds 540-litres. The rear seats fold down to increase boot space to 1,526-litres.


Running Costs

The Volvo S90 R-Design is priced from £35,400 with the D4 engine and £41,900 with the D5.

With 35% of S90 sales likely to be R-Design it is a trim worth looking at if you’re looking for something more than the entry level Momentum.

It comes with a 3-year/60,000 miles warranty and Volvo also throw in 3 years’ Volvo Assistance cover with free breakdown and recovery.

Running costs will be really good on the Volvo S90, the D4 can achieve a combined 64.4mpg, the D5 58.9mpg, while CO2 emissions are as low as 116g/km so expect to pay nothing for the first year and then £30 thereafter.

Quality & Reliability

Volvo do quality to a high standard, the R-Design comes with a soft-touch leather interior and there are lashings of chrome and metal mesh inlays to give it an exclusive look, whilst giving it a durable, long lasting feel.

There haven’t been any reliability issues with the Volvo S90, but if it’s like any of their other models then it’ll run and run. The model has also picked up a few awards including Automobile’s Design of the Year award for 2017.

Safety & Security

The Volvo S90 scored the maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP tests which isn’t a surprise as they are the benchmark when it comes to all things safety. Along with the V90 they are the first cars to score 6 points in the Autonomous Emergency Braking for Pedestrians tests.

Along with a plethora of airbags there are a raft of driving assistance systems including

Pilot Assist as standard which works up to 80mph and keeps you in your lane by adjusting steering, accelerator and brakes in traffic. It’s semi-autonomous so don’t expect to take your hands completely off the wheel as it will deactive it.

There’s also adaptive cruise control, hill start assist, road sign information, park assist, vehicle deceleration control, a side impact and whiplash protection system and two world firsts include Large Animal Detection and Run-Off road Mitigation, which will stop the car leaving the road unexpectedly.

More On This Car
Take one for a spin or order a brochure
Request a Volvo S90 brochure
Request a Volvo S90 test drive
By Olivia Gauch
Feb 14, 2017

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