2018 Volvo V90 T6 R-Design Polestar Optimized

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By Nauman Farooq

Most auto manufacturers have abandoned the idea of the station wagon, opting instead to build crossovers and SUVs.

One of the very few car companies that still offers a wagon is Volvo, and their V90 is by far the most visually stunning among all the wagons currently in the market.

Along with its good looks, it has lots of other goodies to offer, as well. So, let’s examine this vehicle in detail!

Styling: As just mentioned, I think the V90 is perhaps the most beautiful wagon currently on sale, especially in R-Design trim. This is a sleek, long vehicle, that sits fairly low, and when wearing the optional 20-inch wheels, it looks even better. I hope other car companies would look at the V90 and get encouraged to do wagons of their own – they look far better than any crossover or SUV.

Interior: Step inside the V90, and you’re greeted by a clean, well laid out interior that is also built very well. In fact, the interior has a bit of an Ikea vibe to it (non-fussy, practical, aesthetically pleasing); and since both Volvo and Ikea are Swedish, it makes sense.

There is plenty of space for five passengers and their luggage, the seats are wonderfully supportive and comfortable, and its touchscreen infotainment system is easy enough to use – once you learn all its ins and outs.

To cap it all, the optional Bowers and Wilkins sound system in my tester, was truly brilliant – if you enjoy listening to music out on the road, this is the car for you!

Powertrain: All V90 models in Canada are equipped with what Volvo calls their T6 motor. So, that means it is a 2.0L, four-cylinder engine that is both turbocharged and supercharged.

In regular T6 trim, this unit produces 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. My tester, however, was Optimized by Polestar, which means it has been massaged to produce 330 hp, and 325 lb-ft of torque – that’s very impressive.
Polestar didn’t just leave the V90 at just a bit of a power boost, they also reprogrammed the eight-speed automatic transmission so now it shifts gears faster, and in ‘Dynamic’ mode makes this all-wheel drive vehicle a bit more biased to power its rear wheels, so the handling is sharper. Little changes, but they amount to a lot!

Driving Dynamics: Out on the road, the Volvo V90 R-Design with Polestar Optimization (R-D PO), is an engaging drive. It feels alive in your hands, something very few luxury cars offer.

As a result, it is never dull or boring, which is what car enthusiasts look for.  Car enthusiasts also look for performance specs, and this vehicle can sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.8 seconds, making it pleasingly quick. But, there is much more to the driving dynamics of the V90 R-D PO, because when you want to sit back and relax, it does that well too. It is an effortless highway cruiser, and thanks to adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist, it’ll melt the miles away.

Get off the highway and onto back roads, and you’ll discover that the V90 R-D PO is a sensation in the twisties. The steering feels wonderful and precise, and the chassis and suspension do a great job of soaking up the road imperfections. Honestly, this is one of the best all-round vehicles I’ve come across this year.

Fuel Economy: In my test cycle (170 km of highway driving + 130 km of city driving) I averaged 11.4 L/100 km. That is a fair result for a vehicle of this size, and trust me, if I wasn’t enjoying its power as much as I did, the fuel economy results would have been a bit better.  It does drink only premium fuel, so it will cost you a bit to run this vehicle. Given what it can do, I would be fine with that! Pricing. The Volvo V90 range starts from $65,950.

My tester, which was an R-Design model with the added Polestar Optimization, plus some expensive options, totaled at just over $80,000. Some would say, that is a lot for a four-cylinder wagon, but they’d just be missing the point of this vehicle.

Verdict: The 2019 Volvo V90 R-D PO looks good, has a great interior, has lots of cargo room, ride and handles well, and has an excellent drivetrain – in short, it is a complete package. I like most of the vehicles Volvo currently offers, and among them all, this super-wagon is my favorite.