VOLVO under Geely is really kicking it. First, Geely and the Swedish carmaker came out with the all-new XC90 about two years ago to rave reviews and accolades.
Then last year, they unveiled Volvo’s brand new S90 luxury flagship sedan in two trims — the Inscription and Inscription Plus.
We spent a few hours with the S90 T8 Twin Engine Inscription two days before its official launch here on October 11.
More recently, we had an extended weekend to get better acquainted with the upscale S90 T8 Twin Engine Inscription Plus.
The S90 is the second plug-in hybrid electric vehicle to roll out of Volvo’s assembly plant in Shah Alam, after the XC90 T8 Twin Engine.
Our impression is that it is gorgeous, sleek AND understated. Artfully detailed. Revolutionary.
The S90 is much more beautiful than the S80 it replaced. We marvelled at its grand exterior design with those bold, well-filling 20-inch alloy wheels. Or the formidable, Clint Eastwood-esque squint of those LED headlamps that Volvo designers calls “Thor’s Hammer”.
The car boasts a sharper multi-spoke rim design, a long chrome strip running along its flanks, chrome inserts on the front bumper, and chrome-lined grille slatss.
Besides beauty, it radiates that safe, clean, functional style for which the Swedes are so famous for.
The Inscription Plus has an upscale, luxurious interior that few others can match. It also has plenty of passenger space.
The Inscription and Inscription Plus share a number of standard equipment with its Inscription sibling. This includes Park Assist with Park Assist Pilot, 360-degree Surround View Camera, Blind-spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Keeping Aid, two-stage integrated booster seats, comfort seats with fine Nappa leather and hand-made Orrefors Crystal gear lever.
What makes the Plus cost an extra RM20,000 above the Inscription variant’s price of about RM349,000 is simply because of the much sought-after Bowers & Wilkins audio system and electronically-controlled dampener.
Bowers & Wilkins is a 19-speaker sound system that supplies an astonishing 1,400 watts through a 12-channel Class-D amplifier.
The Inscription Plus also features air suspension with an electronically controlled, self-levelling dampener system (Four-C).
One of the S90’s most revolutionary features is Volvo’s Pilot Assist. This is the first semi autonomous technology to become standard equipment in a production vehicle. Pilot Assist detects lane markings and keeps the S90 within the boundaries. It also maintains a preset speed and following distance from the car in front of you while steering itself.
The five days spent with the Inscription included a “balik kampung” trip covering a combined 700km of various terrain, such as the mountainous landscape of the East Coast Expressway.
The car delivered uncompromising performance, efficiency and space. This was partially owed to the hybrid components which were cleverly integrated into the design, differentiating it from other hybrids in the market.
The battery is placed in the tunnel, lowering the car’s centre of gravity and enhancing handling.
The innovative approach to power train design combines a turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine that powers the front and an electric motor driving the rear axle. The twin-charged, 2.0L four produces an impressive combined output of 407hp (235kW internal combustion engine + 65kW electric motor) and 640Nm (400Nm internal combustion engine + 240Nm electric motor) of torque.
We may have some complaints about the S90’s soft suspension, especially when driving fast in corners, and “boring” sounds when it tries to make some noise. But let’s not forget that the car is arguably not designed as a pure driver’s machine.
So, being a luxury cruiser that is stable and confident, our ride in the Inscription, was very comfortable, even when encountering imperfections in the road or overtaking other vehicles. It held cornering lines with well-managed levels of body roll.
Overall, the S90 is optimised for the driver who prefers greater security and comfort rather than plush handling.