The Volvo V90 tops the Swedish manufacturer's range of estate cars, with only the XC90 SUV measuring any larger. Volvo has always been very good at making big estate cars with seemingly endless boot space, but to stand the test of time it has had to adapt to modern tastes and avoid making uninspiring square boxes. The new Volvo V90 is rakish, sculpted and elegant as a result. So too must it adapt to the market's move away from the traditional petrol and diesel fuel, and towards hybrid and electric motors. Volvo's answer is the V90 T6 Recharge plug-in hybrid, which replaced the previous T8 version in 2020.
The V90 Recharge features a turbocharged four-cylinder 2.0-litre petrol engine driving the front wheels, and an 86bhp electric motor powering the rear wheels, making the V90 all-wheel drive. The electric motor offers up to 35 miles of all-electric driving and helps deliver up to 134 miles per gallon and reduce CO2 emissions in the process.
Combined with Volvo's mission to make the safest cars on the market today, this all makes the Volvo V90 Recharge a tantalising package. However, Volvo struggles for market share against similar cars from the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes. This Volvo V90 review will put it through its paces to see how it fares against its German rivals.
Range, Charging, & Emissions
The Volvo V90 is equipped with an 11.6kWh battery pack, which powers the 86bhp electric motor on the rear axle and works seamlessly with the petrol engine at the front. Electric-only range is up to 35 miles, so city commutes can be done in Pure mode without the engine firing at all, maximising range.
The charging capacity of the V90 is limited to 3.7kWh and takes just over three hours to charge using a home wallbox or public charger. It will take around six hours to charge using a standard domestic plug, so with a little patience you may be able to do without the extra cost of installing a wallbox. However, it is advisable to keep the battery fully charged, otherwise, all you'll have is a heavy front-wheel-drive petrol car that will struggle to reach 40mpg.
The hybrid technology gives the V90 a low Benefit in Kind (BIK) rating of just 10%, helping it appeal to company car buyers and meaning it costs far less in tax than an equivalent petrol or diesel fuel model. Fleet and company buyers are the sector which the V90 is targeting the most.
Its comparative price means that the V90 will attract the road tax levy of £480 a year for its first five years, but after this time it drops to £145, slightly less than an equivalent petrol and diesel model.
Fuel economy is excellent providing you keep the battery topped up. The V90 returns up to 135mpg in optimal conditions; expect a little less than this in real world driving conditions, but you will still avoid being on first name terms with your fuel station attendant.
The Volvo V90 R Design model sits in Group 41, and the luxury Inscription model is Group 42. Insurance will not be the cheapest, but this is a premium car packed with tech.
One of the benefits of electric motors is that they have few moving serviceable parts, but the petrol engine will still need regular servicing. Service intervals are 1 year or 12,500 miles, whichever comes sooner. Expect to pay a premium price for Volvo servicing, but you should get excellent service in return.
The Volvo V90 comes as standard with a three year, 60,000-mile warranty, which includes breakdown. The battery pack has a separate eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty, giving you the peace of mind that the electric components will stand the test of time.
The Volvo V90 T6 gets a welcome boost from its electric motor. These twin engines in tandem give the V90 a total output of 335bhp, which is impressive for 2.0 engines. Its AWD system helps the V90 put its power down on the road effectively, ensuring that it can blast from 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds. This isn't too far behind a Mercedes E Class Estate AMG, or the quickest BMW 5 Series Touring, so the V90 is an estate car that can keep up with the best of them. This is more or less identical to the S90, which is the V90's saloon sibling.
In spite of this power, the V90 does not feel like a performance car to drive. Its eight-speed automatic gearbox can be a little hesitant in choosing the right gear at the right moment and is set up more to provide a relaxing cruising speed than outright acceleration. R Design versions have larger wheels and sportier suspension which make it feel a little more involving to drive, but otherwise, the steering is light and the V90 is easy to drive, providing a calm and composed driving experience. The four-wheel drive system ensures that the V90 handles predictably and feels solid on all road surfaces, and the auto gearbox eventually finds the right gear.
The first thing to notice about the exterior of the Volvo V90 is that Volvo has clearly tried hard to prevent it from looking too square at the rear, like its ancestors. The boot lid curves pleasingly, but this somehow avoids damaging the boot space too much.
The V90 cuts an elegant silhouette with a classy exterior and high-quality look, which looks attractive but understated on the road. The large wheels avoid the sides looking too slabby and fill the wheel arches nicely. The more dynamic-looking R Design adds sportier bumpers and a black grille to give it a slightly edgier, more aggressive look. It is a big car, but doesn't have the height of the XC90. It arguably looks better than the S90 saloon.
The V90 looks nearly identical to its sibling petrol or diesel models, but with the addition of an extra flap for the charging plug on the front wing, on the opposite side to the petrol filler cap.
As with all other Volvos, the cabin of the V90 is dominated by the infotainment system with its large portrait touch screen display. This is nice to use as long as you don't try and skip through the menus too quickly - if you try and move too fast it can seem a little slow on the uptake.
The front seats are comfortable and supportive as we have come to expect from Volvo, and everything is built and finished to a very high standard, making the interior of the V90 a nice place to sit. The leather-trimmed steering wheel is nice to hold and multi-adjustable along with the seats so you can find the perfect driving position. The R Design trim adds sports seats to the equation. There is plenty of room in the front and rear seats for five people, and the boot is cavernous as you would expect from a big Volvo. The rear seats also fold down to form a sort of black hole into which you can place almost anything you could dream of. If you really don't need the boot space then the S90 features the same interior space, without the large boot hatch.
Many of the settings are now within the Volvo's infotainment system, reducing the clutter of switchgear across the dashboard and giving it an air of Scandinavian minimalism.
The Volvo V90 Recharge is offered in R Design and Inscription models only, so the levels of standard equipment are high - but at this price, you would hope so too! Standard equipment includes LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, 19" alloy wheels, sat-nav and multi-zone climate control.
The driving experience is relaxed, with the standard auto gearbox doing most of the work for you. You can change the driving mode depending on how economically you wish to drive. It starts in hybrid mode, or you can specify more engine input for power, or electric-only if you only want to use the battery power.
Ask anyone what they know about Volvo and the first answer will probably mention its obsession with safety. Reviews of Volvos will always mention it too. Volvo's ultimate vision is that nobody inside one of its cars will die in a crash. The V90 is no different and features Volvo's brace of safety equipment including multi-stage airbags, oncoming lane mitigation that prevents you from drifting into the path of another vehicle, braking assistance, an inflatable airbag curtain and ISOFIX child seat points. The AWD keeps the Volvo V90 firmly planted on the road.
The V90 achieved a full five stars in its Euro NCAP crash test, scoring 95% for adult occupant safety, 80% for child occupants and 76% for pedestrians outside the car. It is more than fair to say that the Volvo V90 is a very safe car for you and your family.
The Volvo V90 Recharge is not a cheap car by any stretch of the imagination. This is a premium car with a matching premium price. The sporty R Design starts at £56,025 on the road before you even think about browsing the toys on the options list. The luxurious Inscription is a little more, at £56,800. Pick a few optional goodies out of the brochure, and you will find yourself nudging £60,000 quite swiftly, which could impact on your Benefit In Kind tax bill if you're a company driver, so resist the urge to tick too many boxes.
Volvo offers a range of finance deals on the V90, as well as the option to subscribe to one for 36 months, and offer three months notice to change for a new one in some cases.