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While many of us think about safety when we think about Volvo, the Swedish automotive brand is reinventing itself. While it was the first to put 3-point seat belts in its cars back in 1959, Volvo is as focused on technology and innovation as it is safety. This is certainly apparent with the launch of Volvo’s latest luxury full-size sedan, the S90. We had the opportunity to take a closer look at the technologies behind the wheel, as well as take it for a spin on a recent drive day.

Starting on the outside, the S90 wears the new Volvo design, which was first introduced on the XC90. While looks can be subjective, the S90 certainly has the goods – its low and wide stance suggests control and capability, and, like the XC90, the signature ‘hammer of Thor’ LED headlights have an unmistakable look.

[row][6_of_12]Front Volvo S90 Mussel Blue [/6_of_12][6_of_12] Rear Volvo S90 Mussel Blue [/6_of_12] [/row]

And the same good Swedish design is followed through on the inside. Once you close the door, you’ll find yourself in a soothing, elegant and spacious environment that is filled with quality materials including open grained wood, brushed metal, glass and sumptuous leather.

[row][4_of_12] Interior cockpit Volvo S90   [/4_of_12][4_of_12] Interior driver door Volvo S90 [/4_of_12][4_of_12] Interior Birds Eye Cockpit Volvo S90 [/4_of_12][/row]

When it comes to controlling the car’s various information, climate control and entertainment settings, it’s all quite straightforward thanks to the central 12.3 inch tablet-like touch-screen control interface. You can access just about everything via the central screen, and most menus are just one swipe away if they’re not present already.

Interior Centrestack Right Volvo S90

The 12.3 inch portrait touchscreen is great to use

The menus are fairly responsive, and the touch screen can be used with gloves on, not that this is much of a worry in Australia. The system also supports Apple’s Carplay, which is part of the optional Technology pack, and requires an iPhone connection via USB cable. This is like most cars with Carplay today, however the the latest 5 series BMW features a wireless Carplay option.

Even without Carplay, Volvo’s own system supports Pandora and Spotify streaming apps that connect to the internet via your mobile phone. There are also some other apps such as a clever voice memo that captures your voice notes and sends them to your email.

On the music side, we were lucky enough to test the optional $4,500 Bowers & Wilkins 1400-watt 18-speaker audio system. It sounded simply superb, with a detailed and dynamic soundstage, and there are stunning speaker grilles and housings dotted around the cabin. While it’s pricy, the B&W can certainly transport you to another world during your daily commute.

The on-board navigation is also quite good and looks fantastic on the large portrait display. Directions are fed back to you via voice, on the screen or the optional heads up display. Real time traffic updates are provided, but need to be routed through your phone’s data connection.

Volvo integrated Spotify app

Volvo’s integrated Spotify app

Volvo says that it will issue over-the-air software updates for its various systems, including improvements to the driver aids as they are developed.  We certainly love the idea of new features and improvements being added to your car after you buy it.

Advanced engines

The S90’s Drive-E engines are technologically packed. While you might expect a combination of 6 and even 8 cylinder motors on a car of this size, Volvo offers a range of 2.0 litre, 4-cylinder petrol and diesel variants to choose from. While you might think that a 4 cylinder is a bit underpowered, this isn’t the case. Volvo’s new engine line-up is more powerful, lighter, more responsive and offers greater efficiency than the motors they replace.

Volvo does this in a few ways – in the S90’s T6 petrol engine, for example, both a turbocharger and supercharger are used on same engine. The supercharger is there for the low-end torque, and the turbo provides the horsepower boost. Below 3500rpm, both the supercharger and turbo work in tandem, above 3500, the supercharger shuts down and the turbo takes over.