I've been up since 5am. It's now 11 pm. To say it has been a crazy day is an understatement. 16 hours of non stop conference calls and meetings as we prepare for an important client meeting the next day. Endless debates, a hundred different opinions, and unfettered emotions all around. Little food, even lesser fresh air and an overdose of caffeine over the day. It's now day 4 of this drill. I've been at it since Monday.
My head is spinning @ a million miles per minute. My eyes are burning harder than a wild forest fire. My neck and back are stiffer than a concrete wall. Fatigue - mental, physical and emotional has set it. And tomorrow is the big day when I need to be at my best. It's time to go home to get a few hours of sleep. God knows what will happen. I'm simply exhausted !!
I get down to the car park. There she is, standing unassumingly in the corner. As I approach her, the sheer gracefulness and elegance of the Scandinavian design brings a smile to my face. As I gently touch the door handle and she unlocks. The iconic Thor's Hammer DRLs appear and the stunning interior lights up. There is a certain sense of occasion. I am looking forward to the next 45 minutes.
I've been in a few Volvos before and while very functional, their interiors were nothing to write home about. But these new generation Volvos are a completely different ballgame. The combination of soft Napa leather, wood and brushed aluminum works like magic and the overall quality and finish of the interior is a league above (think Bentley and Porsche).
I turn the start knob, a nice block of brushed aluminum placed right below your left hand, and she purrs to life. The dash is an all digital affair with colors and fonts that are exceptionally detailed and smooth on the eye. I've seen a few current gen Audi all digital dashes (R8, TT, A4 etc) and while they are a technical marvel, I personally found them very cluttered and distracting. I prefer the Volvo approach.
I then turn my attention to the iPad placed in the centre of the car - yes there is an ipad there !! There is this large touchscreen panel which is the central nervous system of this car. Practically everything is controlled from there. And again the implementation is just awesome. The fonts are detailed and beautiful, the touchscreen response is quick and the system never hangs. Volvo is showing the way here - in a world when touchscreen smartphones and tablets are omnipresent, this is how a car's central console should look and function.
I start my playlist. It's playing on my iPad which at this point is sitting in my office bag on the rear seat. It picks up the playlist right where it left in the morning. Floyd is playing. I put her into drive and take off.
The S90 is powered by a 2 liter diesel motor putting about 200 bhp and 400 nm of torque. It's a very refined motor where they have used some very clever engineering to virtually eliminate any turbo lag. She's no rocketship, but takes off with a very potent force and gets to triple digit speeds very quickly. The gearbox is an 8 speed automatic unit, that shifts seamlessly without you ever noticing the shifts.
This car is not about power and thrills. This car is about extreme refinement. There is hardly any engine or road noise that makes it to the cabin. The ride quality is incredibly plush - there is a trick setup where the front suspension is a conventional setup but the rear suspension is an air set up. Overall the set up works really well for our Indian roads. She just glides over everything with ease and comfort.
There are a bunch of driving modes (eco, comfort and dynamic). Eco is too dull. Dynamic sharpens up the throttle and steering response and in my opinion does not suit this car. Comfort is the right mode and I mostly drive in that.
Volvo is really upping the ante here. They have a beautiful exterior design, an awesome interior, a next gen instrument console but the party does not stop there. The list is endless and I cannot do justice to it here. Lane departure assist, self parking assist, automated emergency braking are some of the more innovative safety and convenience features it has. These again seem next gen in nature.
The Sound System
The S90 in India only comes in one trim that's fully loaded. It has a lot of stuff, but in addition to the top quality interior, the other standout feature has to be the Bower and Wilkins sound system. It is just mindblowing. I'm no audiophile, but I love listening to music while driving A LOT and this has to be one of the best setups I've heard, if not the best.
There is a lot of software gadgetry with the sound system - different modes, tone settings, equaliser settings etc etc ....and the initiated can use all that to get the most of out this system, but for me play it in any mode and it's just divine.
The Sum of All Parts
The S90 is really a car where the sum of all parts come together to create something unique. The high quality interior, the sublime ride quality, the seamless powertrain, the awe-inspiring sound system - all work like the Fantastic Four superheroes to make this something special. Don't take my word for it. Take a leisurely testdrive at your convenience and check for yourself.
I'm now cruising on the highway. There is the usual Gurgaon late night truck and taxi traffic. I'm just cruising at 80-90. It seems effortless. The soft leather and plush ride quality have cocooned me and it feels like I'm getting a deep tissue massage. The sound system is at its best. I'm playing it in concert mode and it feels like the singers are right there in front of me (okay I'm exaggerating a bit, but you get the point). Suddenly in 15-20 minutes, I'm in a totally different state of mind. I feel relaxed, energetic and optimistic.
Floyd is now in full swing and Comfortably Numb is playing. It's like the S90 is telling me..."take it easy kiddo, you will do just fine tomorrow".
AdrenaSense score - 7/10