• The Volvo S90 is one of the few luxury sedans available in South Africa.
• Pricing for the S90 starts from R898 800.
• Despite being at the high-end, it comes loaded with standard features.
• For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za
Saloons or sedans have seemingly become a niche market when, once upon a time, they were a common sight on South African roads.
More and more manufacturers have been discontinuing much-loved sedans from the local market - Volkswagen discontinued its popular Jetta a few years ago, along with its Passat. Ford dropped its awesome Fusion off the range - gosh, I loved that car, it had such a massive boot too. And while the Accent is still available, Hyundai also dropped its Elantra.
Of course, there are still plenty available in the German automakers' line-ups, but there isn't much else. It's no secret that South Africans love bakkies, SUVs, hatchbacks or little city cars.
But then there's the S90, and Volvo has reminded us just why sedans should still be considered as a vehicle of choice in a segment which has shrunk significantly over recent years.
READ | Why buy the Volvo S90? Here are five good reasons
Besides being known as one of the safest vehicle brands in the world, Volvo has also become known for having a host of features as standard, very much as you would expect from a brand like Lexus or even, Haval.
The S90 dropped by our test garage when lockdown restrictions eased slightly, and it allowed taking my family out on a first leisurely drive after being home for three straight months at the time. I decided to take a scenic drive to the picturesque town of Hermanus.
Naturally, the best route to take there is via Clarence Drive with its twisty S-bends, a couple of hairpins, and some short straight bursts on your way to Betty's Bay from Gordon's Bay. Once you're out of Kleinmond, and you can go a bit faster than 60km/h, the road starts opening up for a proper cruise.
When you're in a car as luxurious as the S90, it just makes sense to take a relaxed drive even though it's more than capable of being a stately sedan that could be driven at speed if needed.
The all-wheel drive S90 is powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It delivers 173kW and 480Nm. Volvo reckons in ideal conditions the claimed fuel consumption is rated at 4.8-litres/100km. I managed an average use of about 5.2-litres/100km on the leisurely drive. You won't have to fork out too much either for emissions taxes as the S90's carbon emissions are rated at 127g/km.
Image: Wheels24 / Clavern Van der Post
The legroom is incredibly spacious in the rear, and the seats, draped in Nappa Perforated leather are plush and homely - it's also an R11 750 extra option. The minute my sprog can stretch her legs in her car seat, I know it's a winner. Space is important to her too in a car and is always a box to tick in her books.
The S90's pricetag starts from R898 800, but this model in crystal white metallic clocks in at R1 059 800 with all its added options, and I'll get to those in a moment.
You see, even though there are about R160 000 extra goods added to the base price, it still comes with a vast list of standard goodies like electric front seats, Adaptive Cruise Control with Pilot Assist, Driver Alert Control (DAC) with Lane Keeping Aid (LKA), Intellisafe Assist which includes City Safety with pedestrian, cyclist, and large animal detection, and front collision warning with full auto brake. It also has laminated windows - another checkbox for my toddler as she hates the sun in her eyes when we go for a drive. The Navigation Pro system comes with lifetime free map updates.
The Premium Pack which is worth about R68 000 includes heated front seats, power operated tailgate, the 360 degree camera, auto dimming inner and side mirrors, power fold rear backrest, Premium Sound by Bowers & Wilkins and more.
The Enhanced Luxury Pack worth R17 750 includes the four-zone electronic climate control, sun curtains on the rear doors and a tailored dashboard. Single options make up R75 000 of optional goods and includes a power sunroof worth R12 750, head-up display (R14 900), black rooflining (R3 050), massage seats (R5 600), and more.
Wheels24's Charlen Raymond says: "The S90 deserves a special mention whenever sedans are a discussion. Especially luxury sedans. It's bold, impressive to look at, and has loads of kerb appeal to garner plenty of stares of admiration. Ironic, because the same admirable stares do not transform into worthy sales.
"The S90 is one of Volvo's slow sellers; not just locally, but globally. The uptake and popularity of SUVs have made it difficult for the S90 to stake its claim, yet the car does its utmost to surge forward in a bid to remain relevant and accessible. It's no easy task, but one that the S90 is working on. Tirelessly. But in a sea of SUVs and crossovers that are growing in popularity, this Volvo, and any other sedan playing in this fiercely contested price segment, will always come off second best.
"Yet, this S90 D5 AWD Inscription is kitted with a host of features as standard, making its value-for-money proposition even more intriguing. For instance, inside the cabin, you'll find six airbags and all-round electric windows, as well as satellite navigation, adaptive cruise control, climate control, voice control, and electrically adjusted front seats.
Image: Wheels24 / Clavern Van der Post
"Optional extras have not been omitted, and prospective buyers can specify a sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, air suspension, and blind-spot alert.
"What this specific S90 model offers is greatly under-appreciated, and Volvo knows that there is very little it can do to sway buyers away from its SUVs and onto the S90. Still, there is a market for the car, albeit a small one, but a market Volvo still sees as necessary.
"How the S90's future will play out remains to be seen but don't be surprised if the next-generation S90 swaps its internal combustion engines and hybrid powertrains for a fully-electric model."