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Volvo has been building and fine-tuning its estate cars for over 60 years now, so expectation for the new V90, launched this year, was always going to be high.
However, rivalling the hugely popular Audi A6 Avant, Mercedes-Benz E-class Estate and formidable BMW 5-series Touring, the V90 has got quite a challenge on its hands if it's going to stand out from the crowd.
Good to drive
Built on the same platform as the excellent XC90 SUV, the V90 majors in comfort. It's effortless to drive and superb at cruising down the motorway, with impressive ride quality and a lack of wind and road noise intruding the cabin.
You've got a choice of two diesels and a plug-in hybrid in the V90. Under the bonnet of our test car is the lower-powered 2.0-litre diesel that offers 190hp and 400Nm of torque. Performance is brisk - the car completes the 0-62mph benchmark in 8.5 seconds - and the engine is impeccably smooth and devoid of any diesel clatter.
The firm's eight-speed automatic is well paired with the engine, and only when you really push on the accelerator pedal does it struggle to keep up. This isn't a car to thrash around corners, though, and it lacks the driving engagement of its BMW and Audi rivals. That said, there's enough grip on offer to keep the V90 in check in the corners, although the steering feels quite vague.
Spacious family car
It may not be the last word in driving fun, but the V90 is impressively comfortable over long distances, and is practical too.
The 560-litre boot, albeit smaller than its German rivals, offers more than enough space for the weekly shop or family holiday, and there are plenty of storage options around the cabin. Head and legroom is plentiful wherever you sit, and standard features across the range, such as two-zone climate control, heated front seats, electric tailgate and comfy leather, make a real difference when out on the road.
Interior quality in the cabin is excellent too, and the iPad-style infotainment system is modern, sophisticated and easy to navigate around - it's one of our favourites in the sector.
You can choose the V90 in two trims, Momentum or Inscription. We're testing the former, which comes with a good variety of equipment as standard including satnav, internet connectivity, LED headlights, two-zone climate control, 17-inch alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, and the aforementioned nine-inch infotainment centre console screen.
The Volvo name is synonymous with safety innovation and there's a great deal of kit on offer here as standard, including a very intelligent semi-autonomous driving system called Pilot Assist that controls the steering, accelerator and brakes at speeds below 80mph, thus taking the stress out of motorway driving or sitting in traffic.
There's also City Safety, which includes pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection as well as automatic braking at junctions.
Considering the size of the car and the performance of the engine, CO2 emissions of 119g/km are good, although not class-leading, and a combined fuel economy of 62.8mpg will help keep fuel bills low. On test we managed to achieve closer to 47mpg, which isn't too bad.
This is the entry point to the range and at £34,000, the D4 Momentum offers good value for money.
Residual values are very impressive at 42.2%, too, beating the comparable Mercedes-Benz E-class Estate and Audi A6 Avant, and because of this and its lower P11D price, the Volvo beats both these rivals hands down on the whole-life cost, despite its higher running cost figures, at 67.2p per mile versus the Merc's 72.6p and the Audi's 75.3p figures.
Model price range: £34,955-£44,455
Residual value: 42.2%
Service, maintenance and repair: £2,661
Vehicle Excise Duty: £60
National insurance: £3,612
Cost per mile: 67.2p
Fuel consumption: 62.8mpg
CO2 (BIK band): 119g/km (23%)
BIK 20/40% per month: £134/£268
Boot space: 560 litres
Engine size/power: 1969cc/190hp
A stylish and modern choice in the luxury estate market that majors on whole-life costs