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Swedish Love Affair

She stood out from the throng in the sexiest way with her bodacious body and long silhouette, calling out to me from the distance using her sheer presence. There for the taking, draped in her classy blue evening gown, she reeled me in like the bombshell she was and I was powerless to control myself from her flirtatious nature and her captivating looks. Bloody hell, what a moment.

As if she was not long enough for an estate car, the crisp yet subtle long lines on her body were appearing in the right places. She seemed polished and fresh with a hint of masculinity from those sharp and athletic contours. Caressing her properly-toned paint job sheepishly from the rear to front, my hands stopped as I met her iconic Mjölnir-inspired eyes once more. It was electric. 

They were the most beautiful set of jewels I had seen in a long time and even before I drove her, I was ready to go back to Volvo Cars Malaysia that instance and sell my soul to them just so I could have her. I am not exaggerating here folks- the new executive Volvo sedan and estate from the marque’s 90’s series are sexy to the eyes, flirtatious to the touch and absolutely witty when driven. The new Volvos S90 and V90 are a bang-on reflection of what happens when institutions maximise R&D resources from their rich Chinese investors to their fullest potential. After seeing and driving Volvo’s flagship, the XC90 late last year in Langkawi for a few days, I fell flat for Volvo’s new design language, their technology and the overall experience. In fact, right up to the point I met the S90 and V90, I was convinced that the XC90 was THE most impressive vehicle out there and a down-right value-for-money buy where the premium segment is concerned. Now though, my thoughts are torn between TWO Volvo ranges.

I got to date both of these twin sisters on two separate weekends of course. Taking the V90 out first for a weekend, it began with that prelude you read a little earlier in this article; I was blown-away by seeing her in the flesh. I wasn’t ushered in by a random cluster of buttons, knobs and gismos of the current ilk of some premium cars. Quite the opposite took place actually, in that the V90’s interior is dominated by a 9-inch Sensus Connect touchscreen, quite similar to the kind found in Volvo’s newer SUVs. It is sort of the focal point of the mature cabin experience. 

Just short of being able to summon Odin himself, it also controls everything from air-conditioning, infotainment, lighting, sat nav and the dependable 360 camera. Pulling back on the V90’s gigantic panoramic sunroof, it was time to feel the V90 out on Malaysian asphalt first. Mind you, a big change in these Volvo sedans are the engines they’ve been christened with. Under their finely speced R-Design gowns, the two lasses we were loaned share the same T6 powertrain, a twincharged inline-4 block that houses 320 Scandinavian horses with 400 Nm of witty torque as well.

While the V90 estate is the slower of the two, managing the sprint to 100 km/h in 6.1 seconds, I found her road character to be a lot more tasteful in terms of driving feedback. The quicker sister, the S90 sedan comes with a little bit more potential because of its lighter weight, rushing to the century mark on the speedo in just 5.9 seconds. Both cars have been tuned to grant the same top speed of 250 km/h, yet the feel towards getting there in each variant is different in a good way. There is a sexy way in which the torque is delivered on either end of the rev counter in both cars.

The T6 engines in these Volvos mean that each car comes with supercharging and turbocharging. While I’m not a fan of this refinement game that is at the forefront of each car manufacturer’s vision of late, Volvo sure knows how to hit the sweet spot, especially for a carmaker who’s second and last name is safety. Due to the loads of additional air charging, these Volvo’s are in fact not the dainty kind of dates at all because their power is easily accessible and early out on tap. This can translate into a tasteful road experience if approached the right way, but I’ll be honest as always, the thrill wanes quite unsuspectingly once you reach the up-end levels on the rev counter.

The V90 is the bigger diva of the two, a real confident dancer on the road. She corners and turns with a certain linear poise and I believe that has got a lot to do with how her dampening settings have been tinkered with by Volvo’s specialist to compensate for her chunkier proportions. Sauntering around Petaling Jaya district for even longer in the V90 made me appreciate the spring settings she wears, as it is quite clear that the estate is suited for long bouts of road time with added cargo, especially since it has the larger storage capacity with its generous trunk size. 

The combination of her long body and almost 2-tonne weight might be a frown for most, but I loved every bit of my drive in the V90 because it felt like I was cruising around in a stylish looking Viking tank. And, with a rear-end like hers, you’d want to drive her all day just to flaunt it. Still, as time went on further in the V90, I automatically began to think to myself how I’d love drive a slightly leaner version of this dapper beast, which is when I decided to take the other sister out on a date, the S90.

In the S90, the full potential of this 2-litre T6 engine is put to eloquent use; the sedan is almost 50 kilos lighter than her bigger estate sibling hence why the S90 takes to spirited driving stints with more composure and motivation using the same engine. Pinning the throttle in the S90 is more relevant, where in the V90 it seemed to turn into a lofty affair at times. The S90 is also sprung very differently from the longer and taller V90, to grant a more confident sense in road grip which made me love how easy it was to position the S90 into bends compared to the V90. This is also something a good set of tyres can further accentuate of course.

There is lesser body roll in the S90 compared to the V90 because of the minor tweaks made to the suspensions that help manage the transfer of weight more effectively. This translates in a more sharper driving feel, which adds more confidence to you as the driver to trust the S90 just below its own limits. Even so, I’d say that both the V90 and S90 are crafted to tackle the daily grind with class and some bite. But believe me, there will times behind the wheel where you’ll forget quickly that they are Volvos because of how fun they are to drive. ‘Fun driving’ isn’t something I’ve equated to Volvos in my entire life. That thought was also dismantled after driving these beautiful Viking ladies and in all seriousness, I wouldn’t mind having both parked in my garage one day.

The latest safety features in the new Volvo pair is a typically top-notch, only-Volvo-can-provide kind. Considering the prices that one has to pay for either (V90 costs RM458,888 and S90 costs RM453,888), it is because of the safety features in the new Volvos that make either car an absolute bargain in my book of opinions. These Volvos have been carefully designed with sensors and cameras all around the car to detect almost anything that so much as moves or stands around it. When an object, person, or animal is detected, the Volvos slowdown or stop completely. Then, there’s that familiar Volvo special, the Pilot Assist, something I experienced last year in the XC90 as well.

The system is active and operational just past the 120 km/h mark, using road markers and distance inputs from vehicles ahead of it to chart its line. Like in the XC90, when all of its safety features are turned on and active, it is the closest one can get to an autonomous driving experience for the price you’re paying. Oh yes, do I even need to mention it here that the Volvo V90 and S90 come default with 6 airbags? I must have you know at this point, that the first batch of the V90 and S90 in Malaysia are fully-imported CBU units and as such, they are limited.

In spite of all these overwhelmed emotions and driving sensations of experiencing these two new Volvos, it hit me- after all re-genesis of exterior looks, design language and twincharged performance, this is still a trusty-old Volvo. How? It suited my needs of travelling to work, plonking in futsal/gym gear and chauffeuring my family around. Again, these new Volvos are perhaps a representation of the Swedish brand’s new-found potential and freedom to explore under Geely’s deep and dark pockets. Crucially though, it was only after driving these two Volvos that I realized how we might have been lied to by the rest of the premium segment for so long now; this is an example of a car range that blends performance, functionality and beauty in one fantastic combo.

From a neutral vantage, I am excited to watch as the Iron Mark has initiated a proper new era for Gothenburg’s finest. The automotive industry should also be happy to see the Swedish marque give a thunderous yet classy response to its competitors, especially in this executive sedan segment where Volvo was seemingly falling behind. Only tomorrow will tell us what will transpire but I for one am thankful to go out on this double-date with these elegant Swedish lasses. What a pair of twins indeed. Well done Volvo!

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