Volvo’s all-aluminium Drive-E twin-turbocharged 2.0-litre diesel has already proven itself a willing and frugal engine in various earlier models, and so it is in the S90.

What it might have demonstrated here, under the bonnet of this large upmarket business saloon, was its refined side, something it struggles, at times, to do.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
S90 gives a rev counter only in Dynamic mode — and then it’s too small. No shift paddles, either. Seems they really don’t want you to enjoy driving

Idling is one of those times. After start-up, the S90’s engine settles into a rhythm that declines to disturb the cabin with much vibration, but it does seem a bit louder than the executive saloon norm. And it is.

Our noise meter confirms that a Jaguar XF 2.0d 180 is 1dB quieter here and a Mercedes-Benz E220d 4dB more hushed.

But traditional Volvo customers looking for a well-mannered and unobtrusive driving experience will find the S90 a more agreeable car on the move.

By 50mph, the refinement deficit to that like-for-like E-Class has halved. At maximum engine revs in third gear, the S90 is actually the quieter of the two cars.

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

Cabin isolation is good, with little in the way of wind noise admitted, and although the chassis can filter in a bit too much surface roar at times, it’s seldom enough to irk.

Although it’s on both the large and heavy side of the mid-sized executive saloon spectrum, the S90 has good accelerative pace.

Standstill to 60mph grumbles up in 8.2sec (exactly what Volvo claims for the car for 0-62mph) and the more revealing 30-70mph dash through the gears takes 7.9sec – more than a second quicker than an equivalent XF and less than a second off the four-cylinder diesel executive class’s outstanding performer, the E220d.

Acceleration is provided accessibly, smoothly and with good response. A typical modern twin-turbocharged four-cylinder diesel’s capacity to come up with big torque at low revs makes the car accrue and maintain speed easily, cruise effortlessly and cover distance efficiently.

And talking of efficiency, our testers recorded an average of 39.9mpg in typical day-to-day running.

A slightly soft but progressive brake pedal makes it easy to bring the car to a stop smoothly, taking so much effort out of the business of stopping and starting in traffic.

Meanwhile, should you be minded to take as much of the stress out of the driving experience as possible, you’ll find the car’s Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving functions helpful up to a point, although they’re not infallible or totally dependable. Tesla’s Autopilot works better

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week