Bing-bing-bing-bing – the sound of the S90’s City Safety front collision warning is becoming a weekly occurrence, as the big Volvo mistakes yet another parked car as an impending crash.
Volvo’s safety technology is among the best in the industry, so if it still gets easily confused on narrow roads, it suggests we remain some way off from a foolproof system.
Each time the alert is activated, it is accompanied by a brief dab of the brakes, before the system realises that I am still in control of the car and gives way.
I’ve not tested the run-off road protection system – which automatically tightens the front seatbelts should the car inadvertently leave the road – nor the collapsible seat frames which help prevent spinal injuries. And, I’ve no plans to.
But, I have tested the Pilot Assist with adaptive cruise control and, while a little unnerving, it works well.
It is best employed on the motorway, where control of the speed through acceleration and braking combines with steering inputs to keep the car within the lane markings.
You have to keep your hands on the wheel, which creates the odd sensation of the wheel moving your hands, but so far it has been faultless.
I’ve also tried it on A-roads with no issues, although the steering has a slight delay on bends. Hold your nerve and it does navigates safely, but it’s hard not to manually override. As mentioned, I’ve no desire to test run-off road protection!
Other safety/driver assistance systems also get the big tick, including the LED headlights with active high beam.
It is quick to react to prevent dazzling when sensing an approaching car; some systems are less diligent – some cars we’ve driven have switched to high beam when following another vehicle.
One final quibble – although by the time of the next test it should no longer be a problem due to the change in weather. Switching on the rear screen heater sometimes interferes with the radio signal.
It will be less of an issue with the brighter weather, but it does seem a bit of an oversight on the part of Volvo’s engineers.
March 2018 - First test
It wasn’t the most auspicious start for our new Volvo S90 long-termer. My 11-year-old daughter stepped into the car and immediately blurted out “it’s a bit old-fashioned”.
Probably not the reaction Volvo was seeking, but then a tan (officially amber) leather and walnut wood panelling combo is not the most contemporary styling.
However, this trim spec is optional; many others are available, so let’s press re-set and start again.
Our test car is the D4 2.0-litre diesel with eight-speed automatic transmission generating 190PS and good for – on paper at least – 64.2mpg. In range-topping Inscription trim (other options are Momentum and the sporty R-Design), the S90 has a P11D price of £37,500.
Added extras on our car include: family pack with integrated sun curtains and booster cushions for outer rear seats, which, to the delight of my nine-year-old son, remove the need for child seats (£450), 20-inch eight-spoke alloys (£1,700), head-up display (£1,000), rear park assist camera (£400), smartphone integration (£300), dark tinted windows (£400) and premium metallic paint (£1,000). They take the final price to £43,450.
The S90 is packed with standard equipment, lots of it safety-related as we’ve come to expect from Volvo.
It includes City Safety collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, capable of identifying pedestrians, cyclists and animals; run-off road protection, which tightens the front seatbelts should the car leave the road, while front seat frames have a collapsible section to help prevent spinal injuries; and Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive, which assists with steering up to 80mph and controls accelerator and braking to keep the car within lane markings and at the desired cruising speed (as long as your hands remain on the wheel).
Early driving impressions are favourable, erring on the side of comfort over dynamism. There is ample power from the engine when required, although it is a little harsh when pressed with a little too much noise intrusion.
Model tested: Volvo S90 D4 Inscription