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May 15, 2018

Review: 2018 Volvo S90 D4 Momentum

In the premium car segment, Volvo has always played second fiddle to the Germans. It’s always thought: if you can’t afford an Audi, BMW, or Mercedes-Benz, go for a Volvo. Well, not anymore. Beginning with the XC90, Volvo has been reborn. With a stronger and more unique identify, it can stand toe-to-toe with the best of the world. Now with the S90, Volvo has managed to convincingly replicate this formula, only this time, it’s for the luxury sedan segment.

How has Volvo managed to do this? Simple: with the S90, they’ve managed to bring that uniqueness to form a luxury sedan that combines graceful styling, effortless performance, and cutting-edge technology.

Outside, it’s strikingly beautiful with its delicately balanced shape and intricate detailing. From afar, it’s compact and yet, moving closer, it’s huge. With an overall length of 4,963 millimeters and a width of 1,890 millimeters, it’s more of a full-sized sedan than a mid-sized one.

The wide, upright grille recalls past Volvos without feeling contrived while the Thor’s Hammer daytime running lights lend it a confident face. The strong shoulders hark to more recent Volvos as do the fastback shape which draws the eye to the elegantly simple rear-end. There’s not one contrived or out-of-place line on the S90; even the standard 18-inch tires fit the fenders perfectly.

Open the doors and the S90 reveals an interior that’s restrained and subtle as its exterior. Palatial rear seat room, comfortable front seats, and pleasantly premium materials, the S90 is like a Boeing Dreamliner’s Business Class without the turbulence.

Volvo dubs the S90’s interior to be a “Scandinavian sanctuary” and that term works well with light, airy feel. Even the D4’s all black number is hardly cave-like. The seats themselves are wide and offer top notch support with all sorts of adjustments available. Equally good is the thick-rimmed steering wheel which falls right into hand.

The dashboard itself is dominated by Sensus—a big 9-inch portrait touchscreen that’s meant to reduce the requirement for physical switchgear elsewhere. Admittedly, there’s a learning curve to it, but once adjusted for, feels very natural to use. Everything from the navigation to the vehicle settings is just a screen or two away. Be warned though: it does manage to attract all sorts of fingerprints.

As a luxury sedan, the standard by which the S90 is measured against is high, and for that, it manages to succeed, mostly.

If there’s one area the S90 needs improvement in, it’s in the refinement of its 2.0-liter twin-turbocharged diesel engine. Flicking the “Engine Start” to the right disturbs the cabin with a rough, uneven idle. While it settles down as it warms up, it doesn’t’ reach a level that can be described as “refined.”

Thankfully, it becomes more agreeable when it’s on the move. By 80 km/h, it’s almost cathedral quiet. Cabin isolation is up there too, with little in the way of wind or road noise. By the century mark, the noisiest thing would be backseat drivers and the Pirelli PZero tires.

Weighing in at 1,790 kilograms, the S90 surprisingly dispatches to 100 km/h in just 8.2 seconds. While it doesn’t seem fast on paper, in reality, it offers smooth and confident accelerative pace. Its performance is largely typical of a twin-turbocharged diesel engine which serves monster torque (400 Nm) at low revs and effortless top-end power (190 horsepower). What’s more, fuel economy is pretty good: 9.80 km/L (average speed of 17 km/h). The accompanying 8-speed automatic is well-suited to the engine and is responsive enough even for some spirited sprints. That said, paddle shifters would have made the entire package perfect, especially when tackling twisty, uphill roads.

Speaking of handling, the S90 seems to be comfortable in its own skin. It’s not quite the spirited sports sedan nor the laid-back long-distance cruiser. It sits somewhere in the middle and for that, it becomes more forgiving to drive, especially on Manila’s unforgiving roads.

Whereas its German rivals may become fidgety or nervous riding across less than billiard smooth roads, the S90 rides simply glides through them. Although bigger intrusions do make their way into the cabin, for the most part, it’s extremely pliant. On better roads, there’s a nice sense of precision built in although its large size betrays itself at the limit.

It drives like a car a size smaller, however, its girth does make navigating through smaller roads a challenge. Still, excellent visibility and minimal blind spots do offer a sizeable advantage.

With a suspension tuned more for stability than agility, there’s a nice sense of accuracy built in and it’s extremely stable too. However, it must be said that though the steering may be quick, but there’s inconsistent weighting no matter the driver selected mode.

Priced at P 4,095,000, no other luxury car comes close to being as loaded as the S90 from the get-go. Aside from the 18-inch wheels and Sensus infotainment system, it comes with a 12-inch all digital gauge cluster, automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors with automated parking assist, powered front seats and trunk, full LED illumination, and of course, a complete suite of safety equipment including automated braking. In fact, the only option available is air suspension.

As with the XC90, the S90 comes across as a Volvo built to the Swedish carmaker’s own idea of “the standard.” For that, it’s beautiful, effortless, comfortable, and spacious. Arguably, the S90 remains an unconventional choice in this segment, but it’s also one that’s well-rounded as it is left-field.

2018 Volvo S90 D4 Momentum
Ownership 2018 Volvo S90 D4 Momentum
Year Introduced 2016
Vehicle Classification Luxury Sedan
The Basics
Body Type 4-door sedan
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.0
Aspiration Twin Turbo
Fuel Delivery Common Rail Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 190 @ 4,250
Nm @ rpm 400 @ 1,750-2,500
Fuel / Min. Octane Diesel
Transmission 8 AT
Cruise Control Yes, Adaptive with Low Speed Follow and Steering
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 9.80 km/h @ 17 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,963
Width (mm) 1,890
Height (mm) 1,443
Wheelbase (mm) 2,941
Curb Weight (kg) 1,790
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, Double Wishbone
Rear Suspension Integral Axle with Transverse Composite Leaf Spring
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires Pirelli PZero Vol 245/45 R 18 W (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 8
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Front & Rear with 360-degree camera
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist
Blindspot Indicator
Automated Braking
Run-off Mitigation
Run-off Protection
Exterior Features
Headlights LED, Active
Fog Lamps Yes, Front and Rear
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers Yes
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment Electric (front), Driver with Memory
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, Dimming with Fold
Climate Control Yes, 4-Zone
Audio System Stereo
# of Speakers 10
Steering Controls Yes


  1. Nice Review �� Please do a review the Estate Version soon !

  2. Looks boring inside and out. The performance is meh. Its much better to get a lexus instead.

    1. Makes sense. You'll also have a easier maintenance and higher resale value.

    2. If you really have the money, maintenance and resale value is nothing. Go for the model that you'll really enjoy. Otherwise we'll all be driving vios, innova and fortuner. Peace bro

    3. I agree bro. But it's really difficult to maintain a Volvo here in the PHI, you'll have to wait for several months for a certain spare parts once a breakdown happens, not unless you can outsource it outside the casa which will surely give you tons of headache outsourcing.

    4. Volvo's and other luxury brands' target market has no concern for peasants like you regarding fuel cost, spare parts, bla bla, because they have a fleet of cars.

    5. Mag Mazda ka nalang leave the volvos alone. =.=

    6. I never said anything about fuel cost, IDIOT. What im emphasizing is the difficulty of acquisition of Volvo spare parts due to scarcity, money will never be an issue for them.

      Of course, buyers of this segment has other cars, IDIOT.

    7. Tinamaan sa peasant si anonymous @10:38AM hahaha!

    8. Oo peasant nga yan siya. Narrow-minded dilawan b*****d yan!

  3. Volvo has improved its design a lot recently. Sadly, there's nothing really standing out for the brand.

    In terms of safety, all other brands have similar ratings nowadays. Performance wise, Volvos are just average. Price, it is still much more expensive than Japanese cars but not much lower also vs traditional Euro brands.

    But worse part is resale, as when it's time to move on, it will be very difficult to find a buyer for your Volvo even at very low prices.

    So as a brand, Volvo is sort of in a no man's land sad to say.

    1. Finally someone said it to educate these dumb faux carguys.


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