The motoring world contains many unwritten rules. Like the fact that you simply cannot mention a new Volvo without referencing a certain group with a palindromic name or a flat-pack furniture outlet. A subtle mention to leggy blondes or a plate of meatballs is also encouraged.
The other rule is that nobody does luxury saloons quite like the Germans. When you’ve got a network of derestricted autobahns at your disposal there’s a strong desire to create the world’s finest uber-saloons.
The Volvo S90 R-Design and its V90 wagon sibling are here to change all of that. Well, the bit about uber-saloons, anyway. The Swedes are about to enter the German’s playground and start messing with their… er, stuff.
More Mel C than Ennis-Hill
But first, some bad news: though Volvo is billing the R-Design models as ‘sporty’, they’re sporty in a Melanie C sense, rather than Jessica Ennis-Hill. The four-cylinder diesel engines remain untouched, meaning you can select from a front-wheel drive 190hp D4 or an all-wheel drive 235hp D5.
So no chance of the familiar five- or six-cylinder magic we loved about Volvos of days gone by. One nil to the Germans.
But before you hit the search engines looking for solace in an A6 or E-Class, there is some hope. Volvo’s definition of ‘sporty’ is “an advanced sport chassis that delivers an energetic, road-hugging drive”.
In standard form, the 90 Series cars are anything but sporty, but the advanced chassis should at least add some much needed bite. Throw a Polestar upgrade into the mix and you might have a Volvo that could at least hold its own against something from Bavaria, Stuttgart or Ingolstadt.
Polestar + R-Design = joyride?
But it’s likely to come at a price. Though Volvo hasn’t released the cost of the R-Design makeover, we’d expect a premium of £5,000 for some sporty spice. A range-topping V90 R-Design with a few extra toys and Polestar goodness could be knocking on the door of £45,000. Überrascht?
To match the sporting intent, the R-Design upgrade adds a pair of spoiler-integrated fog lights, unique grille and some added piano black trim. A set of glorious five-spoke matt black diamond-cut alloy wheels complete the exterior makeover.
On the inside, the R-Design driver is treated to unique deco trim, pedals and mats, along with ‘sporty’ seats, special steering wheel and a high level illumination package.
This is Britain, so it’s a given that the V90 wagon is more appealing than the S90 saloon. Insert gags about labradors, antiques dealers, green wellies, Felicity Kendal (ask your dad) and a furniture store we’re determined not to mention.
Björn Annwall, a man with an extremely long job title at Volvo, said: “R-Design delivers an edge to our elegant estate and sedan models in our 90 Series, with a winning combination of a sportier, more responsive drive with clearly visible performance styling.”
Meanwhile, we’re simply delighted to get through 500 words without any of the cliched references associated with Sweden. The winner takes it all. Anybody fancy some sporty meatballs?