Volvo S90 T6 R-Design (2017) Quick Review

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Going up against key rivals such the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and new BMW 5 Series, the Volvo S90 needs to make a bold statement and this new S90 R-Design –resplendent in Bursting Blue paintwork – counters its rivals with inimitable Swedish style! Let's take a look at what this S90 R-Design has to offer. 

We Like: Styling, powerful engine, infotainment and technology

We Don't Like: Difficult to fault, boot is slightly smaller than rivals


  • Classy choice: Consider the Mercedes-Benz E400 AMG Line 4Matic priced from R1 037 526. The E400 offers more power and torque than the S90 and is powered by a 6-cylinder, 3.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 245 kW and 480 Nm of torque. The E-Class arguably offers the best-in-class ride comfort too and is equipped with a wide range of impressive technology. However, many of the desirable optional extra's are quite pricey. 
  • Enter the new 5: The latest BMW 5 Series has much to offer and the 540i M Sport priced at R1 055 016 has the power to match both the S90 and Merc E400. The 540i is equipped with a 6-cylinder, 3.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 250 kW and 450 Nm of torque and is more gifted in terms of dynamic performance than its S90 rival. 
  • Something more extroverted: The Consumer Awards-winning Jaguar XF 25t Portfolio is a dynamic, stylish and luxurious alternative, but doesn't have the engine power to compete with the vehicles listed here. In 35t and S guises it is simply too expensive.

Compare the Volvo S90 T6 R-Design AWD with the Mercedes-Benz E400 AMG Line 4Matic and BMW 540i M Sport

The S90 T6 R-Design offers good looks and admirable performance. A striking alternative to its German rivals. 

Facts & figures 

Price: R879 730 (September 2017)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbopetrol
Transmission: 8-speed automatic 
Power: 235 kW 
Torque: 400 Nm 
Fuel consumption: 7.2 L/100 km (claimed)
0-100 kph: 5.9 secs
Top speed: 250 kph  

What is it?

In a segment traditionally dominated by ze Germans, Volvo has well and truly risen to the occasion with its S90 executive sedan. The local S90 lineup was recently bolstered with the introduction of 4 sporty R-Line derivatives and we recently spent some time with the most powerful T6 R-Design. Should you consider the S90 T6 R-Design AWD over its German & British rivals? This quick review could help you decide...

The Good

Attention-grabbing exterior styling

Pretty from all angles, the S90 T6 R-Design exudes style and luxury.

Visually, this S90 R-Design is distinguished by its deeper front bumper with menacing air dams and a glossy grille with satin chrome detailing. We really like the striking effect of Volvo’s "Thor’s Hammer" LED headlights too.

A satin chrome finish frames the windows, and the side mirrors are finished in matt-silver. At the rear, rhomboid tailpipes add to the sportiness and the colour-coded diffuser rounds off the dashing rear-end. Those large 21-inch diamond cut wheels (a R15 500 optional extra) complement the stylish bodywork and, although taste is subjective, we think that this S90 T6 R-Design is an attractive alternative to its German rivals.

Impressive interior features

A central tablet-like infotainment system houses most of the S90's functions and settings. Interior build quality is right up there too. 

Moving inside, the S90 R-Design strikes a tasteful balance between opulent luxury and high-end technology. The driver and passenger are treated to comfortable, electrically adjustable and heated contoured Nappa leather sports seats. Further R-Design details can be seen on the sports steering wheel wrapped in perforated leather, aluminium sports pedals, R-Design door sills and carbon-fibre decor inlays.

The interior build quality is excellent and a major highlight is Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system. Working much like a tablet, the system houses most of the vehicle’s functions and is very easy to use thanks to swipe-and-pinch functionality. It’s one of the best systems currently available in this segment. Another highlight is the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster featuring a crisp, integrated navigation display.

A 360-degree camera is a useful aid when manoeuvring in tight spaces.

Optional extras fitted to this test vehicle include Visual Park Assist with a 360-degree camera, head-up display, 4-zone climate control air conditioning and a 19-speaker Bowers and Wilkins premium sound system. As with other S90 derivatives, rear passengers are comfortably accommodated courtesy of more than adequate head-, shoulder-, leg and knee room.

Willing performance

A digital instrument cluster with integrated navigation further adds to the S90's interior appeal.

This S90 T6 R-design is powered by a turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-litre petrol engine with 235 kW and 400 Nm of torque, driving all-four wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission. Although the 4-cylinder motor is less than sonorous, it's very responsive to throttle inputs and in-gear acceleration is plentiful and brisk. Volvo claims a zero to 100 kph sprint time of 5.9 seconds with a top speed of 250 kph.

The 8-speed automatic transmission is well-matched to this engine and delivers relatively seamless transitions with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters provided for manual override. There are 3 driving modes (including Eco, Comfort and Sport) at your disposal too.

Volvo claims an average fuel consumption figure of 7.2 L/100km and we averaged in the region of 11.0 L/100 km during our test. But with a conservative driving style, figures below 10.0 L/100 km should be achievable.

Good balance between ride quality and handling

Power and comfort are key strengths of the S90 T6 R-Design.

The R-Design’s chassis is stiffer than that of the standard S90 in a bid to offer enhanced dynamic ability. It does feel very capable at tackling corners at speed and remains wonderfully composed and planted to the tar when you weave together a set of bends.

Although the suspension is noticeably stiffer, it’s still forgiving. Yes, it absorbs and eradicates most imperfections in the road relatively well, but it can become marginally crashy over harsher surfaces. The 19-inch will offer more comfort, but are not as striking as the 21-inch examples. Although the S90 delivers a refined ride, we don’t think it quite matches the sublime ride offered by the class-leading E-Class, however.

Safety and driver assistance systems

As you would expect from Volvo, this S90 T6 R-Design is packed with the latest safety technology and driver assistance systems. Aside from the basics, the S90 is also equipped with pedestrian-, cyclist- and large animal detection, run-off-road mitigation, automatic braking at intersections for oncoming traffic, front collision warning with full automatic braking, lane keeping aid, lane departure warning and driver alert control.

But perhaps the most impressive driver assistance system offered on the S90 is the semi-autonomous Pilot Assist feature, which is an extension of the adaptive cruise control system that can be activated using the mounted steering-wheel controls. Once activated, the system will take care of accelerating, braking and steering at speeds up to 130 kph. Pilot Assist still requires full attention on behalf of the driver as our local lane markings can confuse the system, but it affords the driver higher levels of relaxation and we found it particularly effective in heavy traffic jams and when cruising on the highway.

The Bad

Middling luggage space

Although the boot is large, it's still not as big as the rivalling E-Class or 5 Series.

We are nitpicking here as the S90 is difficult to fault, but it's worth noting that the luggage bay is smaller than that of the equivalent E-Class and 5 Series. At 500 litres, the S90's boot is still capacious but falls short of the E-Class (540 litres) and the 5 Series (530 litres). For most buyers, however, this fact shouldn't be a deal breaker.  

Pricing and warranty 

This S90 T6 AWD R-Design is attractively-priced against the equivalent Mercedes-Benz E-Class or BMW 5-Series with a starting price of R879 730, but once you start ticking off some of the desirable options, the price can quickly escalate to over a R1 million (as is the case with the test unit shown here). A fully-equipped S90, however, is still more affordable than a similarly specced E-Class or 5 Series. 

A 5-year/100 000 km warranty and 5-year/100 000 km maintenance plan is standard. 

Find a Volvo S90 fort sale on

Attractive pricing and solid capability make the S90 T6 R-Design worth considering.

If you are in the market for a stylish executive sedan that offers everything from sporty looks, performance, comfort, luxury and heaps of safety and driver assistance technology, then this Volvo S90 T6 R-Design makes a strong case for itself. Yes, some rivalling products may offer more thrills behind the wheel or a more resolved ride quality – and arguably more prestige – but the Volvo’s styling execution inside and out is to be admired and it has an air of sophisticated quality in the way that it drives that can’t be ignored. In a premium segment like this, the S90 R-Design says so much more about you than the more traditional rivals and we like that as it shows that Volvo has taken a big step towards carving itself a piece of the premium car pie.

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