2017/18 Volvo V90 D4 R-Design – Big Estate Offers Refined Practicality

Volvo V90?

The original V90 (also known as the 900 series) was an estate much-loved for its incredible load space and comfort. It is perhaps the prototypical luxury estate car. So when Volvo announced it was re-releasing the V90, there was much anticipation. As you’ll read, Volvo have delivered on just about every level with their new – and huge – estate.

Exterior design

Undoubtedly, Volvo has absolutely nailed the exterior aesthetics of the estate car design with the V90. The original car of the same model name came out in the mid-nineties, and styling-wise was of its time but still possessed the same presence and luxury that this new-generation V90 offers, with large proportions that were well-styled.

When Volvo’s big V90 was unveiled, it caused a stir amongst the public and motoring journalists alike, because it simply is a thing of beauty. It sits wide and long, with a high waistline and side glass that appears narrow yet isn’t when sat inside.

From a side-on viewpoint, its heavy swage lines and swept-back look makes the V90 appear as if it’s in motion even when sat still, and its sheer size and muscularity strikes as strong and planted. From the front, there are the distinctive ‘Thor’s Hammer’ LED daytime running lights which are a triumph of design, while the large grille and huge Volvo emblem and brand command attention.

Volvo have used large rear lights on their cars for some time, and they’re now somewhat synonymous with the brand. The V90 though, takes tail lights to whole new level of big, taking up around sixty per-cent of the rear sides of the car, and in a cool sickle-type design, while the rest of the rear continues with the handsome styling of the rest of the car.

No matter the angle, the V90 is striking in form and really quite beautiful in a way that’s hard to describe, though I think ‘aesthetically pleasing’ sums the Volvo V90 up perfectly.

I was sent the more sporty V90 R-Design, which includes gloss-black upper and lower grilles and bumper inserts, 20-inch alloy wheels and integrated tailpipes.

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Interior. Neat or nothing special?

Volvo have been producing cars with nice interiors for a couple of decades now, but with the new generations of models from around 2013, such as the V40, they suddenly got really good. When the second-generation XC90 came out in 2015 Volvo yet again upped their game to make a cabin that wasn’t just high quality and comfortable, but one that was genuinely desirable, and quite beautiful.

So you can get a first-person perspective on the cabin, I’ve made an in-depth video tour of the V90 with lots of detail including the huge touchscreen’s features, the size and practicality of the boot, what the comfort level is like front and rear, how roomy it is and much more, so I’ll leave the video (in the next section) to show you the majority of points. Please subscribe to the CarProductsTested YouTube channel for a whole host of car reviews. 

This new Volvo V90 gets that same utterly stunning cabin design. Pop open a door, and you’re greeted with an interior so nice you’ll want to hug the designers and thank them for producing so nice. I hate to be so gushing, but frankly, the V90 deserves it.

As your eyes rove around the cabin, you’ll see beautifully-sculpted leather seats that absolutely invite you to sit in them. You should do so. In the driver or front passenger seats, you’ll notice just how well sculpted they are, and the way they conform to your shape feels like they’ve been made specifically for you. They are incredibly comfortable, and the same goes for the rear seating, where your passengers will travel in comfort for both long or short journeys.

I do have one problem with the rear seats, and it’s this; they don’t have an adjustable recline feature. This is something I was really surprised at, as I’d maybe expect that with the S90 saloon, but certainly not with this estate version! Quite strange, and I don’t understand why they’ve left this off. However, the 60:40 rear seats are still set at a nice angle that allow a good level of comfort.

My test car was the R-Design, which is the sporty model in the lineup and features Contour Sports Seats with front seat cushion extenders, aluminium mesh inserts (the finish of which is completed by hand), 12.3″ Active TFT Crystal driver information display, and a perforated leather steering wheel with gearshift paddles, to mention a few of the features. See Volvo’s website for the full R-Design specification.

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Comprehensive interior tour video

Rather than witter on about the interior, it’s much easier (and more insightful for my readers) for me to physically show you the interior of a car by video. This is something I will be featuring in all my car reviews from now on. This way you can see what each button or control does, how they sound when you press the, how easy the entertainment system is to use, what practical features the boot has and what size it is, plus much more, so please enjoy the video.

I do have to point out that the V90 has an amazing array of safety features as standard, some of which include City safety with Steer Assist (includes pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection and front collision auto brake), road edge detection, Run-off Road  Detection, Active Bonnet, Oncoming Lane Mitigation. See V90 specs for the full safety list.

Engine & transmission

Volvo offer a wide range of engines with the V90; three petrol versions which are the 190 horsepower T4, the 250 hp T5 and the 310 hp T6. There’s also the rapid and powerful petrol-electric hybrid T8 Twin Engine (around 380hp combined), plus two diesel units; a 190 hp D4 and the 235 horsepower D5 PowerPulse. The engines offered with each spec level does vary, so check the Volvo configurator to see which are available.

All V90s feature an eight-speed automatic transmission, which I found has silky-smooth changes and is highly responsive when you want to get a move on.

The R-Design I was sent had the turbocharged D4 diesel, an inline four-cylinder motor producing 190 bhp (140kw) at 4,250 rpm and 295 lb ft (400 Nm) max torque between 1,750 – 2,500 rpm. Zero to sixty miles-per-hour is done in 8.2 seconds and it’ll max out at 140 mph.

Fuel consumption stats are certainly impressive on paper with official (UK mpg) stats of; urban: 54.3, extra urban: 68.9, combined: 62.8. I managed to get real-life returns of around 47 mpg in city traffic, and on a 260 miles round-trip on motorways the V90 D4 gave 57 miles-per-gallon. However, that also included a short stint in slow-moving traffic in a large car park, which took a few mpg off, and I also didn’t hang around speed-wise on the way home, so I’ve no doubt that 60+ mpg is easily attainable.

On the road

I am now implementing a new format for my cars reviews, where I test and review the car on camera, instead of simply writing about it. These YouTube videos will give you an in-depth insight into how the car handles, brakes, accelerates, cruises and sounds, so please enjoy the video and subscribe to my Car Products Tested YouTube channel for more comprehensive video reviews.


Volvo sells the V90 in five spec levels; Momentum (£37,620), R-Design (£40,120), Inscription (£40,870), Cross Country (£42,520), and Cross Country Ocean Race (£52,270). Each spec – aside from the Ocean Race – also has a ‘Pro’ version, which costs an additional £3,000 – £4,000. As tested, the V90 D4 R-Design I had was just over £44,500 including options.

The V90’s competition (price & size-wise) includes the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate, BMW 5-Series Touring, Audi A6 Avant and the Jaguar XF Sportbrake.

2017/18 Volvo V90 D4 R-Design – final thoughts

Volvo have well and truly delivered with the new V90. The exterior is refreshingly different from the German marques, and at the same time is a truly handsome and powerful design with enough detail to catch the eye and make you want to walk around it. For me, it’s certainly the best-looking estate on the market.

The interior is typically Volvo; well crafted, a refined design, high-quality materials abound and it provides a homely, solid and safe feeling as you waft along in quiet and comfort. Volvo have made the V90 even more tempting with a wide choice of fuel-frugal, hybrid and performance engines too. There’s not a lot more to say. The Volvo V90 is a superb estate on all fronts.

Do you own a Mercedes Vito Tourer, or have questions about this one? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below! 


Exterior looks & design  10
Seating comfort  8.5
Boot practicality  9
 Equipment level (as tested)  8.5
Ride quality  9
Handling  8
Power & Torque (D4 engine)  7.5
Safety tech  10
 Fuel economy  8
 NVH levels (noise, vibration, harshness)  9
Overall score  9.0 / 10 


Model (as tested)  2017/18 Volvo V90 D4 R-Design 
R-Design spec includes  Exterior: 18″ alloys with 245/45 tyres, lowered sports chassis, adjustable steering force, drive mode settings, high gloss black mesh front grille with silk metal surround, high gloss black deco lower front bumper, silver matt door mirrors, twin integrated exhaust pipes with high gloss black surround, powered tailgate, LED headlights with Active High Beam  incorporating daytime running lights. 

 Interior: contour sports seats with leather/Nubuck upholstery, perforated leather steering wheel with gearshift paddles, sports pedals, multi-coloured theatre lighting, 2-zone climate control, 12.3″ Active TFT driver info display, heated front seats, front seat cushion extension, power folding rear seats from boot area.  See website for full spec.

Standard V90 safety features  Quite literally way too much to list! Highlights include: City safety with Steer Assist (includes pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection and front collision auto brake), road edge detection, Run-off Road  Detection, Active Bonnet, Oncoming Lane Mitigation. See V90 specs for the full safety list
Price as tested  (correct August 2018) £38,365 | With options: £44,615 approx.
Engine  Diesel, 2.0 litre, 4-cylinders, 16 valves, turbocharged
Power, Torque  Power: 190hp (140Kw) @ 4,250 rpm | Torque: 295 lb ft (400Nm) between 1,750 – 2,500 rpm
Drive, Gears (as tested)   Front wheel drive | 8-speed automatic with manual change functions
Towing capacity  Towing:  Braked: 1,800 kgs (3,968 lbs) | Unbraked: 750 kgs (1,653 lbs) 
Top Speed, 0 – 60 mph, Euro NCAP  Max speed: 140 mph | 0 – 60 mph: 8.2 | Euro NCAP rating: 5/5 stars
Fuel economy (UK mpg), CO2  Urban: 54.3 | Extra urban: 68.9 | Combined: 62.8 | CO2: 119 g/km
Weight (kerb)  Min kerb weight: 1,696 kgs (3,739 lbs) | Running order: 1,733 kgs (3,820 lbs)
Websites  Volvo Cars UK, Volvo Cars Global

Words: Chris Davies | Photography: Chris Davies | Film: Chris Davies

One response to “2017/18 Volvo V90 D4 R-Design – Big Estate Offers Refined Practicality”

  1. Kia Fan

    Being a huge Kia fan I haven’t really tracked new models appearing from other manufacturers but I was parked at a train station waiting to pick up my daughter when an S90 wafted past.

    I must say, it has a certain presence and Volvo are really advancing in huge leaps with their styling.

    This said, if I had this budget and was looking for a sporty saloon, I would opt for the Kia Stinger. You can check out of Hotel Kia anytime but you can never leave. There’s just something so easy about standard equipment levels and no option packs. Select a level and then pick your colour, SIMPLES!

    The V90 is bound to be popular with Volvo diehards, being so practical.

    If I was tempted, seduced away, it would probably be for a Swede rather than a German 🙂

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