We’re sitting in front of the Kempinski Hotel Bahia Marbella Estepona, Costa del Sol, in Southern Spain. We’re in a new country, in a new car, on new roads, so we’re getting a briefing on how the car works before we head out. We’re being safe, which is sort of rhetorical since we’re in a Volvo.
Thomas Broberg, senior engineer for Volvo in Gothenburg Sweden, showed us how to set the semi-autonomous drive with Pilot Assist, which works up to 80 mph on clearly marked roads, and came in handy for a couple of the people who got lost.
We fiddled with the Apple CarPlay and couldn’t get it to work. What were we doing wrong? We checked to make sure the cable was plugged in; we had wifi but got nothing. NADA. We called a product specialist over and the only difference – the one thing that made the difference was the specialist used a certified Apple lightning cable. We headed north up A-7, past Malaga, Pablo Picasso’s birthplace, to a hotel in a little town on the beautiful Embalse de La Viñuela Lake for lunch.
Our venture to La Nivuela Hotel took us through some twists and curves that allowed us to put the car through its paces. The car stuck to the road; there was no turbo-lag, and it was a pleasure to drive, as was the Chocolate Brown V90 we drove. The S90 shares the Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform with the XC 90, an SUV that has won over 200 awards and is pushing sales of Volvo up over ten percent in 2016.
You can only see so many olive trees before you decide you have to stop and buy some extra virgin olive oil. Finding the place that sold the olive oil, and the award-winning honey was no easy task. Agro-Olivarera Riogordo is a co-op of 1,300 partners that have come together to purchase a new system of cleaning and pressing olives so that the little farmers can compete. At $3.50 a bottle, there is a reason tour buses are showing up. You can also find the award winning organic honey at the shop, along with Jamón Serrano, or Jamón Iberico, meat from a pig that eats only acorns in the last part of its life.
The next morning we went South to the Rock of Gibraltar. You need your passport to visit the Rock as it is the property of the United Kingdom, and only borders Spain. It is known as the gateway to Africa to many, but to me, it is the mystical rock that my Mom always spoke of when something was “as hard as the Rock of Gibraltar.”
It takes a while of driving to get a feel for a car, the way it drives and what you like about the car that sets it apart from its competitors. I like Volvo’s signature “Thor’s Hammer” headlamps that will be standard on all U.S.-bound models, and the LED taillamps that shine at night. My favorite part of the car is how far back the passenger seat goes, well past the B-pillar, into the safety zone of never hitting the windshield in an accident. There is a simple Scandinavian elegance inside, including a large NAV screen to watch the backup camera as we muddled our way out of a tight spot.
There are two drivetrains coming to the United States;
T5 In-line 4-cyl. Front-Wheel drive automatic 250 hp and 258 torque at 1500 (0-60 in 6.5 seconds) turbocharged 8-speed automatic gearbox
T6 In-line 4-cyl. All-Wheel drive automatic 316 hp and 295 torque at 2200 (0-60 in 5.7 seconds) turbocharged and supercharged 8-speed automatic gearbox.
The vehicle I drove that will come to the United States, was the T6 In-line 4-cylinder All-Wheel drive automatic 316 hp and 295 torque at 2200 (0-60 in 5.7 seconds) turbocharged and supercharged 8-speed automatic gearbox. As with most turbocharged vehicles, the S90 will require premium gasoline.
Volvo says they expect 70-80% leasing for S90. The S90 powertrains will sell globally in petrol, diesel and Volvo’s T8 Twin Engine, a gasoline plug-in hybrid mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Volvo will launch a 3-cylinder engine soon – it will start with the 40-series CMA platform. Eventually, it will find its way onto the S60 and if in the longer term a 90-series is produced on the CMA platform it will be with electrification.
Volvo’s history is as storied as some of Pablo Picasso and Diego Velázquez’s paintings and their lives. It’s been six years since China’s Geely purchased Volvo. Volvos sold in America are still built in Sweden. Soon a plant will be opening in Charleston, SC. A question that comes up frequently is whether Volvo will produce cars in China and sell them in America. Mertens has said that is not on the table for now. Geely has been smart and strategic so far, and the awards are proof that Geely is letting Volvo of Sweden do what they bought Volvo for, to make great cars.
2017 Volvo S90 models and pricing:
2017 Volvo S90 T5 MOMENTUM front-wheel drive $46,950
2017 Volvo S90 T5 INSCRIPTION front-wheel drive $50,450 (tops out around $61,705)
2017 Volvo S90 T6 MOMENTUM all-wheel drive $52,950
2017 Volvo S90 T6 INSCRIPTION all-wheel drive $56,250 (tops out around $67,505)
Destination Charge $995
BMW 5 Series