The sportiest of the V90 is quite a looker. But what about whatâ€™s underneath?
Coo. A seriously good-looking Volvo in that aggressive, sporty way that gets the heart going. Whoâ€™d have thought it, particularly of a large Volvo estate.
The R-Design spec includes gloss black to the exterior flourishes, some very snazzy alloys and some matt silver on the mirrors. You can have the R-Design spec with either the D4, as here, or with the all-wheel drive, more powerful D5, as not here.
Volvo V90 D4 R-Design
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, twin-turbo, diesel
Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic
Kerb weight:Â 1696kg
Top speed: 140mph
Economy: 62.8mpg (combined)
CO2/tax band: 119g/km, 25%
That means the excellent 2.0-litre four-pot diesel with its twin turbos whistling happily away, ensuring you make really decent, if not utterly amazing, progress. Thatâ€™s as youâ€™d find in the standard V90, a car which is already a firm favourite with us. The problems come when we get away from the standard model and actually look at what goes with the fancy looks of the R-Design.
For example, the suspension is stiffened and lowered by 15mm, with dampers tuned just for this model. That does make the estate look more purposeful, but for once Volvo has let looks overcome function. Simply, itâ€™s too hard and not compliant enough to stop big thumps and bumps coming straight into the cabin. It really isnâ€™t a good ride, no two ways about it.
The handling could arguably be said to be improved, as there is less pitch and wallow in faster corners, but youâ€™re paying an uncomfortable price for this. What might well be better â€“ necessary, even â€“ is to tick the option box for the adaptive dampers and rear air suspension. Itâ€™ll cost you Â£1500 but we think youâ€™ll thank us for suggesting the investment.
The R-Design also gets into the cabin, in the shape of new sporty front seats which have pronounced side bolsters. If you were, say, of the fuller figure persuasion youâ€™re not going to find them comfortable. This is quite tiresome given how comfy and luxurious the standard cabin is.
However, the cabin is improved by the mood lighting, the 12.3-inch LED driverâ€™s display and several more sporting flourishes. You could certainly hold your head up in one of these next to the latest E-Class Estate from Mercedes. Youâ€™d have a bigger boot to boot, plus youâ€™d save about Â£1500 while getting a better spec.
So, while the V90 D4 R-Design is a wicked looking estate car, there are just too many tweaks that go with it that actually make what was a really great car rather less so. Weâ€™re really not sure about those sports seats, and thatâ€™s before we get to the whole crashing and uncomfortable ride. If you had the money then weâ€™d strongly recommend the air suspension option, but if not then perhaps weâ€™d accept that looks arenâ€™t everything and save some money by buying a stock D4 in Momentum trim.