Category: Volvo

Some cars don’t need long titles: Polestar 1


Polestar 1

It’s here. Like ABBA making a return, but better. The day has come and gone and Volvo has finally launched their standalone performance brand, Polestar, after what seemed like many moons and suns.

Many of you may have heard the Polestar name before, and that is because up until now, they have even fettling common or garden Volvo’s and turning them into feisty blue upstarts – think of Polestar as being to Volvo what M Performance is to BMW, until now…

Having completely reinvented the brand, Polestar is now Volvo’s answer to the likes of M GmbH, AMG and Audi Sport, but with a sensible twist – they specialise in hybrids.

Unfortunately for those of us who love a little bit of a performance car here and there, we are headed into a cul-de-sac of woe and misery come the day we run out of petrol and choke all the rabbits and wombats with our noxious gasses. Polestar have seen both the gap in the market and the need for a performance hybrid, and while they most certainly aren’t the first to have done it, they have done a wonderfully good job.

Dubbed Polestar 1, their first foray into big-boy’s territory – think M6, E63S Coupe (when that becomes a thing) and RS7 two-door (when that also becomes a thing) – it’s not only a looker, but a serious bit of kit.

What is it?

Underpinned by Volvo’s SPA modular platform, it shares much of its chassis bits with the S90, however, it the wheelbase has been shortened by 320 mm with the bum, and oh what a bum it is, losing an additional 200 mm. The gents at Polestar most certainly know what they are doing, and they claim that 50% of Polestar 1’s chassis is unique to the vehicle, as well as being 45% stiffer than the S90’s chassis and 230 kg lighter. The majority of that weight saving and extra stiffness comes courtesy of Polestar 1’s carbon fibre bodywork.

What makes it go?

Beneath all that carbon fibre lies a hybrid setup somewhat similar to what you’ll find in Volvo’s current T8 models, but not really. Same same but different in that there’s an electric motor for each of the rear wheels – yay for real torque vectoring – and then the same old poke 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged mill we’ve all grown to love sitting up front. Total output is a staggering 448 kW and 1 000 N.m, which will likely propel the swishy Swede from 0-100km/h in under 4 seconds in ‘Power Mode’ yet should the mood take you, around 150 km in ‘Pure’ mode is possible using electricity only.

Aren’t those batteries heavy?

Well yes, they are, but thanks to the aforementioned carbon fibre, clever weight saving and preposterous amounts of torque, Polestar 1 will definitely not handle like a fat kid on a roundabout. Its centre of gravity is very low and as we all know, that’s a good thing. Not only that, but that other famous Swedish company and long-time friends of Polestar, Öhlins, have developed Polestar 1’s suspension. Dubbed Öhlins Continuously Controlled Electronic Suspension (CESi), it’s their first foray into continuously variable suspension and it sounds pretty nifty, being able to make adjustments in just 2-milliseconds, taking into account both road conditions and driver input. Changes to the setup can also be made from within Polestar 1’s exquisite cabin, a first for Öhlins, and will likely feature a range of settings from ‘Comfort’ mode to ‘Race’ mode.

Famed Japanese brake manufacturers, Akebono, have contributed their 85 years of braking expertise into Polestar 1’s braking system, which makes use of 400 mm discs sandwiched between six-piston callipers – serious stuff.

Can I have one?

Sort of, but it’s tricky. Potential customers are only able to purchase the vehicle online – a world first – either via a smartphone app or through an online portal. A smart idea, but don’t expect a Takealot scooter to rock up with your Polestar 1 in tow. It’s far more complex and revolutionary than that and, just like we saw with the XC40 which debuts Care by Volvo, you will be able to ‘subscribe’ to the vehicle for two or three years, without a deposit, and have access to vehicle accessories such as a roof box, the ability to rent other vehicles from within the Volvo stable and pick-up and drop-off assistance when the time comes for your vehicle to be serviced. Polestar 1 will also do away with the traditional concept of a key-fob and will make do with a virtual key, embedded into your mobile phone. This also allows for the owner to send a virtual key to whomever they please, remotely, allowing them access to the vehicle, too. It’s a smart and revolutionary way of thinking and likely to be something that other manufacturers adopt in the very near future.

Where are they making it and are they hiding more Polestars?

Polestar 1 is set to be produced in Chengdu, China at the all-new Polestar Production Centre. Polestar claim that it will be the most environmentally-responsible car factory in China and while initially only geared for low volume production of Polestar 1, it has been designed to cater for larger volumes come the dawning of the age of Aquarius – or a few new models, whichever comes first. We can expect to see both a Tesla Model 3 and Model X competitor from the brand in the coming years, and with BMW’s i Vision Dynamics Concept closer to production than many think, things are about to get interesting…

Now, scroll back and ogle over those images again!

Volvo is on a roll! Welcome the new Volvo XC40


The New Volvo XC40

It’s no secret by now that Volvo are on a serious roll, with some of their recent models being the most handsome vehicles on the roads. Their recipe has almost been perfected and while they have always managed to retain their own identity, for some it was perhaps just a little too far removed from the Germans – because of course we all want to be like them…


The XC40 is the latest offering from the crafty Swedes and its set to take on the likes of Mercedes-Benz’s GLA, the BMW X1 and the Audi Q3, albeit in Swedish fashion, literally.

Unveiled in Milan, Volvo were clever in waiting for all the hype of the Frankfurt Motorshow to die down before letting the world set their eyes on their new baby SUV, thus taking centre stage and wowing the world with its chic design and handsome proportions.

The interior promises to revolutionise the way we think of space within a car, providing ample space for things like bottles, handbags, a space designed specifically for your cellphone, with induction charging, ad a removable waste bin within the centre console to minimise cabin clutter and litter – how clever?


Based on Volvo’s new CMA modular platform, it is Volvo’s first foray into the C Segment Premium SUV space with this platform set to find use across Volvo’s 40 series, as well as in electric vehicles to come.

At launch, D4 and T5 derivatives will be on offer with the range expanding into both hybrids and fully electric derivatives down the line. It goes without saying that Volvo’s impressive array of safety features, of course, are present, systems we have become familiar with in both the 60 and 90 range of Volvo’s.


Volvo Care is another new innovation from the brand which sees its debut in the XC40 which is said to make vehicle ownership as “transparent, easy and hassle free as having a mobile phone.”  Down payments and price negotiations are apparently a thing of the past with Volvo Care which, after a monthly flat-free subscription, will include access to a range of niceties such as service pick-up, refuelling, cleaning of your vehicle and e-commerce delivery to your Volvo, as well as access to car sharing facilities thanks to Volvo on Call and new digital key technology.


While GLA, X1 and Q3 are direct competitors, there is a good chance that potential non-premium brand shoppers might consider the XC40 due to its size and likely competitive pricing.

Production begins in November so expect local units to hit South African shores within the first quarter of 2018.

Volvo’s not so new S60 Polestar

Volvo S60 Polestar

The not so new Volvo S60 Polestar

So as you’ve gathered from the title, Volvo has done some fettling to their now aged but fast S60, and this is probably very important, but first some context. In around July of 2011, Volvo’s Smurf blue enthusiasts and fast car boffins Polestar, created a fast version of the S60, a car which you bought mostly because its cheap to buy used and you couldn’t afford a German car, but I digress. Polestar did some meddling with the transversely mounted 3.0-litre straight-6 turbo mill from the T6 and thus created the S60 Polestar. At the time it made an impressive 258 kW and 500 N.m, enough to rival to the likes of the BMW 335i and Audi’s S4. The big blue Swede was an interesting take on the performance sedan and offered a rather lovely package with pretty impressive numbers thanks to AWD and the big power, such as the 0-100 km/h sprint time, in the really serious sub-five category with 4.9 seconds and the usual pegged 250 km/h top speed. It was rather impressive & given its novelty, it presented itself to 25 South Africans as the top choice. Polestar called it “The car that their racing drivers drove to work.”  South Africa, being ever late to the party, only got the Swede in 2015 but it was rather well received, selling out before even hitting the shores.

Volvo S60 Polestar

Fast forward to 2016 and Volvo’s new DrivE ethos was now in full strength and the pursuit of lightweight driving dynamics had meant gone were the large displacement engines and in the new 24-kilogram lighter 2.0-litre engine with twin charging replacing the now defunct straight-6, thus ditching the rather sonorous noise it made for a supercharger whine and trubo whoosh. Linked to this impressive mill was an 8-speed box with flappy paddles. This not only meant a new engine and some new tricks to the dampening and the like, but a much more refined drive thanks to the more responsive gearbox. Although well specced, it still looks nearly identical to what it did when the car launched some years before. This coupled with the limited numbers again, and driving dynamics and performance figures that were not quite as good as the now updated rivals, meant that the S60 Polestar may not have sold as quickly as everyone had expected, but they still sold. This ultimately meant the S60 was a good offering but not the best car in the segment, just a memory, only to fade away much like it has, or has it?

Volvo S60 Polestar

Now, Volvo has done some fettling once again to the S60 Polestar, as a last hoorah if you will. 30% more downforce will grace another 23 models destined for South Africa, as well as a single V60. Thats right, we’re getting a whole Polestar wagon, Just like the one used as the safety car in the WTCC championship. The Swedes have made 250 changes to the air cutting abilities, including a front splitter, rear spoiler and side skirting, all finished in Carbon fibre. Also new are carbon fibre wing mirrors and 20-inch gloss black wheels.  Another loud hue in the form of a Bursting Blue exterior colour has been added, and,more importantly recognising the need for some attention on the dated interior, Volvo has added new charcoal leather with blue stitching, just what the ol’ girl needed.

Volvo S60 Polestar

There’s no denying that in a straight-line, the S60 Polestar will still do a good job of keeping up with the Germans, with the new model dashing to 0-100 in 4.7 seconds and a top chat of 250 km/h, limited of course, the S60 is not slow and still pretty rapid in the corners. If the current or previous model – I get confused sometimes – was anything to go by, it should be loud as the Cyan Racing blue paint. Given that this is Polestar’s first attempt at a fully fledged road car, it’s a rather good attempt and we’re looking forward to what’s yet to come from Volvo’s go-faster department.

Volvo S60 Polestar

Volvo S60 Polestar Pricing in South Africa

Pricing will be released closer to the launch, which will be later this year, but given that the previous models’ bargain pricing was just above the R700 000 mark, you can expect this to be competitively priced too.

An even sportier S90 has arrived: Volvo S90 R-Design.

Volvo S90 R-Design

Volvo adds a sporty R-Design option to the S90 range

The arrival of the S90 earlier this year brought about an interesting alternative to the typical German offerings in the luxury sedan segment. The S90’s mature and sophisticated look has been given a sporty aesthetic with the addition of the R-Design package. The additions include a gloss R-Design radiator grille with satin chrome accents and larger air dams in the front bumper. The satin theme is continued around the windows and the side mirrors. The rear of the Volvo S90 R-Design features a sportier derriere, with an intergraded rear diffuser and rhomboid tail pipes.  A set of standard 19-inch wheels completes the new sporty look, while the offering of either 20-inch and 21-inch wheels are available as optional equipment.  

Volvo S90 R-Design

The interior receives similar treatment, with the front sports seats being finished in Nappa leather with Nubuck inners. In addition, a perforated leather sports steering wheel with gear selection paddles and R-Design designation comes as part of the R-Design package, along with other changes which include aluminium sports pedals, unique floor mats and an illuminated R-Design logo in the door sills.

Spec Levels

The Volvo S90 R-Design models retain the same high level of standard equipment as the rest of the range, fitting in just below the Inscription model in terms of specification. This includes the distinctive “Thor’s Hammer” LED lights with the active cornering lights and high beam assist. The list of other features includes rear parking sensors, automated wipers, and the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and the brilliant 9-inch Sensus Connect unit which controls the dual-zone climate control and Clean-zone Air quality control system. The infotainment system features USB input, Bluetooth, AUX and a 360-degree camera as well as internet connectivity and a 10-speaker audio system. The Pilot Assist semi-autonomous system also comes as standard on the R-Design models, with the ability to control acceleration, braking and steering up to 130km/h.

Dynamically, the chassis has been firmed up to improve the overall sharpness and cornering ability of the vehicle with stiffer suspension by way of adjustments to the front and rear setupsVolvo S90 R-Design

Engine Options

The choice of either 2 petrol or two diesel motors are on offer in R-Design trim. The T5 petrol R-Design will offer the same engine as in the standard model, offering 187 kW and 350 N.m, driving the front wheels. Volvo claims a combined fuel consumption figure of a rather frugal 6.5 l/100. The top spec petrol T6 AWD offers twin charging technology, making use of both a turbocharger and supercharger, working together to produce 235 kW and 400 N.m of torque, enough to sprint from 0-100 km/h in 5.9 seconds while returning 7.2 l/100 on the combined cycle.

Volvo S90 R-Design

Diesel offerings include the same twin-turbo 2.0-litre motor in different states of tune. The D4 offers 140 kW and 400 N.m, giving a claimed consumption of 4.4 l/100. The top of the range diesel model offers 173 kW and 480 N.m, from the same twin-turbo 2.0- litre motor and is claimed to return 4.8 l/100km. All models are mated to a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission.


Competing with the likes of the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW’s 5 Series and Audi’s A6, the Volvo S90 offers very high levels of standard equipment, safety and high-tech engines and drivetrain options as an interesting prospect with highly competitive pricing, especially when considering the Germans’ love for the odd ‘Optional extra’ here and there.

Volvo S90 R-Design

Volvo S90 R-Design Pricing in South Africa

Pricing is competitive, especially when considering the list of standard equipment. All derivatives come as standard with Volvo’s 5-year/100 000 km full maintenance plan and warranty, Tracker Connect and laminated glass.

Volvo S90 T5 FWD R-Design Geartronic                             R718 300

Volvo S90 D4 FWD R-Design Geartronic                             R742 200

Volvo S90 D5 AWD R-Design Geartronic                            R822 900

Volvo S90 T6 AWD R-Design Geartronic                            R874 600


All the car you will ever need? Volvo V90 Cross Country

Volvo V90 Cross-Country

Volvo V90 Cross-Country Driven Review

As motoring journalists, we occasionally come across vehicles which we like to describe as being “all the car you’ll ever need” but this is a bit silly if you actually stop and ponder for a moment… Sure, if you’re a lifeguard, a flip flop could be all the shoe you ever need, but the same cannot be said if you own a racing school or climb Everest for “fun”. Inversely, should your chosen profession be either scubadiving or bird stalking, those brogues won’t be quite the same fit for you as they would a lawyer. You get the jist of what I’m trying to say – different occasions and different motorists call for different vehicles, despite the wide breadth of capability most modern cars possess, yet none in my recent memory has a set of skills quite as varied as the Volvo V90 Cross Country’s.

Volvo V90 Cross-Country

Dare I say it, it’s all the car you’ll ever need, I promise. From its swanky side profile to sumptuous interior, there is not a single smidgen of the V90 Cross Country that doesn’t ooze Swedish individualism and left-of-field boldness. Its front profile mimics that of it’s S90 and V90 siblings, albeit a bit raised and covered in rugged black plastic for that “I can go off road a bit” look. It’s all very handsome and smart and it isn’t just for show either, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

To test just how well it stands out while fitting in, I decided to take it on a little family roadtrip down to the Natal Midlands for the annual Range Rover, GLS, S-Class and 7-Series get together, otherwise known as the Hilton Michaelhouse rugby match. Here, mere 5 Series’ and E-Classes are way out of their depth and blend in like kitka on the kosher shelf with the odd Ghibli and Quattroporte even disappearing in the crowd. 

Volvo V90 Cross-Country
You can imagine my surprise then, when I became somewhat of a traffic jam spectacle upon arriving at the school gates, flanked by a Range Rover L and a G500. There’s something about Thomas Ingenlath’s pencilwork that just turns heads and makes one realise just how integral this man has been to Volvo’s recent onslaught on the Germans. Luckily, then, the V90 Cross Country is not all good looks and flaccid performance…

On the five and a half hour drive from Johannesburg, Pilot Assist did most of the work, only really requiring my steering input through the twisties of Van Reenen’s Pass. With 171 kW and 480 N.m from its 2.0-litre diesel motor, overtaking was a breeze, even with the added weight of 4 Whittles and their luggage for 5 days (that’s a lot of luggage). With an indicated range of over 1 000 km on a single 60 litre tank, it’s frugal too, managing to return an average of 6.1 l/100km on the trip there. NVH levels are superb to the point where highway speeds feel glacial and wind noise but a myth. The optional Bowers & Wilkins speaker system handled the obligatory roadtrip playlist with aplomb and even elicited praise from mum and dad who insisted on throwing a bit of Cat Stevens into the mix, tasty.

Flashy celeb and superb cruiser, what else is the V90 Cross Country good at? Well, anyone who’s ever been to the Midlands will know that the Midlands Meander does just that, it meanders. The twisty roads make for some exciting driving and again, the V90 just took it in its stride. Wiggle the Driving Mode selector into ‘Performance’ mode and you are presented with firmer damping, slightly heavier steering, but not too heavy like some of its competitors, and sharpened throttle response. Here is where Volvo’s Powerpulse system really shines, eliminating turbo lag and providing punchy torque so very low down on the rev range. Who would have ever thought that a Volvo Cross Country station wagon could bring a smile to a brisk driver’s face? 

Volvo V90 Cross-Country
And so, having wowed us all with its performance, presence, frugality and prowess, the only task left would be to explore the mushy fields of the Natal Midlands. For the high-speed dirt roads with a speed limit of 70 km/h, comfort mode has to be engaged but it does such a sterling job of soaking up vibrations and bumps. One can feel the Haldex AWD system doing its bit too, transferring torque to the relevant places in order to keep the car on the road. 

Once you leave the road, though, ‘off-road’ mode really impresses, raising the ride height as and when necessary and decreasing throttle sensitivity, allowing for precise manoeuvring of this 5-metre long wagon. 

It goes without saying that the V90 Cross Country benefits from Volvo’s vast array of safety features, including pedestrian detection and adaptive cruise control as standard features across the range.

Volvo V90 Cross-Country Pricing in South Africa

Pricing is below and considering it currently has no direct competitors in its segment, these numbers sit very nicely between potential competitors, above and below, such as Mercedes-Benz’s GLC (R676 622 – R875 986) and BMW’s X5 (R991 664 – R1 322 256).


So, all the car you’ll ever need? Probably…

Volvo V90 Cross Country D4 Geartronic AWD Momentum           R804 752

Volvo V90 Cross Country D4 Geartronic AWD Inscription            R835 152

Volvo V90 Cross Country D5 Geartronic AWD Momentum            R850 066

Volvo V90 Cross Country D5 Geartronic AWD Inscription             R880 466

Volvo V90 Cross Country T5 Geartronic AWD Momentum             R784 186

Volvo V90 Cross Country T5 Geartronic AWD Inscription              R814 586

Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 Geartronic AWD Momentum              R906 184

Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 Geartronic AWD Inscription                R936 584



Volvo S90 T6 vs S90 D5 : Same but very different


Volvo S90 T6 v S90 D5 : What would you choose?

I recently posted an article on the Volvo S90 D5, and found that in the short, the car was very relaxing to drive and instilled a calmness on the driver. A short while after testing the S90 D5, I jumped into the T6 variant of the Volvo S90.

This relaxed, sensible feeling which I felt in the D5 was something which wasn’t really present in the Volvo S90 T6 AWD version of the S90. We could probably put this down to its Twin-charged 235 kW and 200 N.m 2.0-litre engine. By Twin Charged, I mean it features a supercharger for low down power up to 3500 rpm whereafter a turbocharger kicks in for the remainder of the rev range.

This makes for a very exciting, progressive and boy racer ish Volvo S90. Along with a 0-100 km/h time of 5.9 seconds, comes a beautiful sound, starting with the classic supercharger whine and ending with a turbocharged growl – not quite what you’d expect from a luxury Volvo sedan.

Along with the sound comes acceleration which is sweet, smooth, linear and above all, pretty addictive. I can’t give you the fuel economy figures during my test as it would be somewhat unfair, but then again, one doesn’t buy this variant of the S90 with fuel economy in mind. Volvo claim 7.2 litres/100km combined, which is believable if you don’t have a right foot like mine.

Apart from the performance aspect, everything else is pretty much the same as the D5 in terms of the styling, luxury and interior. Speaking of the interior, the T6 featured an Amber in Charcoal interior. It is beautiful, especially when offset with the Onyx Black exterior paint.

I noticed something worrying though in that a car that has less than 5000 km on the clock should not have scuff marks on the edges of these warm orange seats. It seems like jeans have been rubbing off onto the leather. This is sad as it is such a beautiful colour to have.

What do you choose?

The best way I can describe the difference between these two cars is by comparing them to myself and my younger brother, Dan.

Dan is the sporty and adventurous type, he likes to compete in marathon long off-road obstacle races, jump off very high cliffs into water and partake in many other sports. He is also a natural at these things, along with being cocky and brash. He is very S90 T6, exciting, raring to go at anytime, but still an Ayres.

Now I used to love all of the above, (baring the cliff jumping) and I still do to a certain extent but I am a married man now, grown up and much more sensible and relaxed. I would be more likened to the Volvo S90 D5.

Many would assume that the T6 is the older brother to the S90 D5, because of its bigger engine and higher power production, but they would be wrong. The Volvo S90 T6 is definitely the feisty, exciting younger brother, whereas the D5 is a mellowed, more chilled out version of the same genetics.

Volvo S90 D5 Review

What you choose as a buyer then really depends what you are looking for, the T6 will definitely appeal to a younger audience, perhaps buyers who would look at a BMW 540i for example. Whereas the D5 is car which is more suited to highways and long distance driving where you don’t want the temptation of a Supercharger/Turbocharger spurring you to ruin that sweet 5.0l/100km fuel rating.

Having said all of the above, though, the S90 T6 is definitely my choice.


Volvo’s Pilot Assist in South Africa – Does It Work?

Volvo's Pilot Assist

We test out Volvo’s Pilot Assist on South African roads.

With autonomous driving being the latest technology craze to enter the automotive industry, many car manufacturers are jumping on the band wagon and giving it a go. In South Africa, the likes of Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Volvo all have vehicles on the road with semi-autonomous driving features.

I recently spend over 1 000 km behind the wheel of a Volvo S90, which has their semi-autonomous driving system called “Pilot Assist” fitted as standard.

Volvo’s Pilot Assist works in conjunction with the Adaptive Cruise Control and controls speed, braking, the distance from the vehicle in front and steering, with the latter being for 15 seconds before it requires human intervention.

As long as there are clear line markings on either side of the vehicle, Pilot Assist will work very well. The driver still needs to keep proper attention to the road and after 15 seconds, a hand needs to be placed on or touch the steering wheel for the system to remain active. The system also works on slight bends that one may encounter on the road, but it is best to keep the your hands steering wheel as on a slightly sharper bend the vehicle tends to drift wide.

The Pilot Assist system is very effective for long distance driving. I used it extensively on a road trip from Durban to JHB and found that the Adaptive Cruise Control, which works in conjunction with Pilot Assist, is probably one of the best I have used. For example, when using ACC and planning to overtake, enabling the indicator causes the vehicle to prepare itself for acceleration. As the move is made, the car begins to accelerate smoothly and efficiently . I’ve tested systems before that would not begin accelerating until the car has completed its move to the next lane with no obstruction ahead. This results in waiting for what seems like hours before the vehicle kicks down and gets going. If the road is busy, it also results in other drivers flying up behind, headlights flashing… you know the sort. So, this is a feature which I greatly appreciated.

Pilot Assist also excels when stuck in traffic – think of the commute to work in one of our busy cities. This system removes the obligation of constantly being on the accelerator or brake pedal while crawling along at 20 km/h. Pilot Assist will also make slight steering adjustments as the car creeps forward so one can sit back, relax and enjoy Swedish luxury.

It is not just a gadget, it’s something a driver can use everyday to make their journey that little bit easier. Adaptive Cruise Control works up to 200 km/h with Pilot Assist having a 130 km/h limit. The system isn’t perfect, but it definitely is a giant leap in the right direction.


Watch an animation of Volvo’s Pilot Assist below:

The Harvey Specter of cars: Volvo S90 D5 Review

Volvo S90 D5 AWD Review

Volvo S90 D5 Review

Over the past few years, the Volvo brand has undergone a regeneration. Combining their reputation of driving safety with swedish luxury has seemed to be their main goal, making sure the vehicles they build are the last word in safety, as well as beautiful in every way. The first vehicle to receive that treatment was the XC90, a luxury SUV which quite frankly blew a lot of people away with its design, styling and technology.

The Volvo S90 is the next vehicle in Volvo’s line up to receive this treatment, a luxury sedan bringing the fight to the likes of BMW’s 5 Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and having driven both of those vehicles, the Germans should be worried.

My first thoughts when entering the cabin of the Volvo S90 were how similar the it felt to the XC90. It has a very clean and elegant feel. High quality materials emphasise the crisp finishings and buttons which are all centered around the 9.3” Sensus Connect Touch Screen. There are few buttons in the S90 thanks to this system which controls everything from the colour of the interior lights to the A/C system and like the XC90, it works very well, it almost feels natural.

Volvo S90 D5 Review

If the XC90 is the younger more beefy teenager, than the S90 must be the older man. It’s very elegant, a trait can be seen through the exterior design. It looks beautiful with its long and sleek style. The front end of the vehicle houses a large chrome grill which harkens back to that of the Volvo P1800, as well as the trademark Thor’s Hammer daytime running lights and while the rear end has received some criticism regarding its design, mainly that it looks sad, in the flesh it looks pretty good. A BMW 5 Series looks aggressive and sporty, whereas the S90 has an elegant and executive feel. It is very Harvey Specter – clean and crisp with nothing out of place.

Volvo S90 D5 Review

There are various engines available in the Volvo S90 and this was the first of two variants I was testing, the D5 AWD Inscription.  This is most powerful diesel engine currently available in the S90 and provides 173 kW and 480 N.m from its 2.0-litre Twin Turbocharged engine, which also features PowerPulse.

PowerPulse is a system currently exclusive to Volvo. It consists of a 2.0-litre canister which forces compressed air into the turbo to decrease spooling times dramatically, thus reducing and eliminating turbo-lag. This system seemed to work well when accelerating hard.

Volvo S90 D5 Review

Here’s the thing with the S90 D5, it didn’t make me feel like I wanted to accelerate hard or drive progressively at all. The Volvo made me feel very relaxed behind the wheel, I sort of pottered around everywhere, taking it nice and easy. The calm and quiet D5 gave of a very relaxing aura

At times I felt like a chauffeur, trying to give my passengers the most comfortable ride possible, even though most of the time I was the only person in the car. It was a fantastic feeling, as though I had escaped the South African road rush – I was in my own little luxury bubble and felt like I had all the time in the world. I could not even hear the chaos that usually consumes South African roads, but that probably had something to do with the 19 speaker Bowers and Wilkins sound system (Short video on the system here:

Volvo S90 D5 Review

Add this to Volvo’s Pilot Assist, which needs an article for itself (find it here), and you have a fantastic vehicle. Driving a car for long distances can add to one’s stress and tension, but driving the Volvo S90 does the exact opposite.

The S90 D5 AWD isn’t badly priced either at R821,200 and also comes with some very good features as standard. One will find features as LED Headlights, Electric seats, Adaptive cruise control with Pilot Assist, climate control and Navigation. For an extra R65,000 a buyer can add the Premium Pack, which offers the following:

o Heated front seats with power-adjustable side supports

o Powered boot lid

o Power-folding rear seats

o Auto-dimming side and interior mirrors

o Visual Park Assist incl. 360-degree HD camera

o Bowers & Wilkins premium audio, 19-speaker

o Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Cross Traffic Alert

o Park Assist Pilot incl. Park Out function

o Keyless entry and starting, incl. hands-free boot lid opening & closing

Other options I would recommend are the smartphone Integration with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto – a R4 000 option.  The Volvo I tested also had a Head Up Display (R14 500) and Air suspension with the Active Chassis system( R17 500) expensive extras, but are most likely worth it and notably cheaper than equivalent options from competitor manufacturers. Spec an E-Class or 5 Series to the same level as this car and you’ll be truly shocked at the price difference. In terms of value for money, the S90 rules this segment.


The Volvo S90 is a wonderful machine and there isn’t much I can fault. The key could perhaps be made with higher quality materials , but that is the only item that felt a little cheap on this car.

Then there is the issue of who this car appeals to. Have Volvo done enough to attract a younger audience? Maybe. I still feel many buyers around 35 years of age and looking for a vehicle in this segment would still opt for a BMW 5 Series. This does not necessarily mean it’s a better car, because it isn’t. Everything about the S90 would appeal to a younger person, but the brand itself still has to work off its older appeal. Time will tell how this works out. For me, I would take an XC90 everyday of the week because it just has that younger feel.

How does the S90 D5 compare to  it’s more powerful sibling, the fiery,  235 kW S90 T6. Find out here:



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Volvo V90 Cross Country released in South Africa

Volvo V90 Cross Country in South Africa

 South African Car News: Volvo V90 Cross Country

Volvo V90 Cross Country in South Africa

We at The Motorist love a good wagon and the only thing we love more than a wagon is a wagon that can do more than just carry things and look cool. Take the Audi RS6 for instance – not only does it look tit, it’ll also give many super car owners a serious fright, all while carrying a moth eaten lamp and a hound or two – it’s brilliant! Unfortunately for us wagon lovers, South African buyers seem to have a penchant for crossovers and as a result, there are very few wagons on sale here. Motoring journalists left, right and centre can’t praise the station wagon enough, but hey, what do we know?

Volvo V90 Cross Country in South Africa

Luckily for us, the king of wagon makers has decided that while there might not be much of a market in South Africa for the V90, the Cross Country variants have always seemed to do quite well here and as such, the V90 Cross Country will be on sale here. Both Mercedes-Benz and Audi make raised versions of their big wagons, namely The Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain and Audi A6 Allroad, but the E-Class will not be making its way here and the A6 Allroad is no longer on sale in SA. So what does that mean for the V90 Cross Country?

Well, it doesn’t really have any competition in its own segment…but even if it did, it would have little to worry about. It’s gorgeous. Like, properly good looking and for some reason, the black plastic bits and rugged additions to the 90 Cluster’s sleek and luxurious lines come together really nicely. You get the feeling that rather than jacking up the ride-height and forgetting to paint a few bits, the V90 CC’s designers have thought long and hard about what the buyer wants, and how they can provide them with this in a typically Volvo fashion.

Volvo V90 Cross Country in South Africa

The first crossover to be based on Volvo’s SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) platform, the V90 CC promises a blend of off-road capability, but, in a “most elegant, sophisticated, tailored wagon suit.” The very words of Thomas Ingenlath, the man responsible for the recent spate of automotive pornography coming out of Sweden.

Interior trims differ to those on offer in the rest of the 90 Cluster with trim options such us Black Walnut for that manly and rugged look. Grrr.

A nice option to tick is the unique Adventure Pack which has been created especially for South African Buyers and offers a host of lifestyle-oriented extras, bristling with value. Included in the Adventure Pack are, amongst others, the panoramic 360-degree surround view camera, auto-dimming mirrors all-round, integrated compass, powered folding rear seats, air suspension and the 230V power outlet – all geared towards improving those out-of-town weekend adventures and typical holiday drives through the country.

Volvo V90 Cross Country in South Africa

Pricing for the Volvo V90 Cross Country starts at R770 900 for the T5 Geartronic AWD Momentum and stretches to a not too heady R921 300 for the T6 Geartronic AWD Inscription. All models come standard with a 5-year/100 000 km vehicle warranty, full maintenance plan and roadside assistance, as well as ant-smash and grab glass and Tracker connect as standard.

The new Volvo V90 Cross Country range begins at R770 900 for the T5 Geartronic AWD Momentum, and ends with the T6 Geartronic AWD Inscription at R921 300.

Volvo V90 Cross Country in South Africa

Keep an eye out for an in-depth review of the Volvo V90 Cross Country in the coming month.

All models come standard with a 5-year/ 100 000 km full vehicle warranty, full maintenance plan and roadside assistance, as well as laminated glass and Tracker Connect as standard.

Full pricing is as follows:

  • Volvo V90 Cross Country D4 Geartronic AWD Momentum           R794 800
  • Volvo V90 Cross Country D4 Geartronic AWD Inscription            R825 200
  • Volvo V90 Cross Country D5 Geartronic AWD Momentum            R839 500
  • Volvo V90 Cross Country D5 Geartronic AWD Inscription             R869 900
  • Volvo V90 Cross Country T5 Geartronic AWD Momentum             R770 900
  • Volvo V90 Cross Country T5 Geartronic AWD Inscription              R801 300
  • Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 Geartronic AWD Momentum              R890 900
  • Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 Geartronic AWD Inscription                R921 300



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On a roll: Volvo’s new XC60 revealed.

The new era Volvo’s has already managed to revitalise the brand, making them no longer cars that appeal to a specific group of people.  The edgy designs of the XC90 and newly launched S90 both inside and out have proved that Volvo means business. These cars though are not the most important Volvo’s in the stable, rather the smaller XC60 has been the glory child for the brand. With over one million units sold globally since 2008, it’s safe to say the outgoing XC60 was a hit. The new version will hopefully be a worthy follow up. If it’s anything like its siblings, we’re confident that current Volvo owner s will love it, as well as newer and younger audiences.

The new XC60 carries on the simplicity of the new Volvos, with its engine line up. A variety of 2 litre petrol and diesel engines will be on offer. For those looking for a faster XC60, you’ll be happy to know that the T8 twin engine variant will be offered, packing a healthy 300kW of electric and petrol power.

For diesel lovers, the D5 has not been left out, giving you 173kW and PowerPulse technology.  Power aside, a Volvo would not be a Volvo without safety being at the forefront of its design. Technologies we’ve come to know such as City Safety will make their way into the new XC60, only this time there will be an added Steer Assist feature. The awesome Pilot Assist will definitely not be left out, allowing the driver to experience  a semi-autonomous mode until 130km/h.

Aesthetic appeal of the new XC60 is obviously subjective but we think it maintains the modern loveliness of current Volvos of today. It may not be the prettiest as the XC90 is stunning, but it sure is handsome. Seeing  the new XC60 live will be the determining factor as the S90 was a huge surprise because it looks much more stately in the flesh. Stay tuned to hear more developments around this car in the future, as it will be very relevant for its segment.