VOLVO AT DETROIT: Flagship S90 sedan unveiled

Solidifying its brand identity, everyone know what Volvo stands for in one word, Safety.

  • Detroit Auto Show 2016 Volvo S90

DETROIT — It might be a bit early to say that Volvo is on a roll.

But sales are up worldwide, the new XC90 just won North American Truck/Utility Vehicle of the Year, and the S90 luxury sedan—adapting the essential goodness of the XC90 into a luxury mid-size sedan – was shown for the first time on this continent.

True, luxury sedan sales are generally down as buyers even in that snack bracket are trending towards crossovers.

But Volvo feels it’s necessary to take on the German brands in the market segments where they do it best. The S90 is aimed right at the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz’s new E-Class.

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The S90 seems to have what it takes, with handsome four-door coupe styling, a new grille which hearkens back to the legendary P1800 sports coupe, and a beautifully-finished interior with advanced connectivity. And of course, the famous Volvo seats.

As with the XC90, the S90 will offer a turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder engine, with or without a plug-in hybrid electric motor.

Among the paint colours available on the S90 will be “Charlie Brown,” the second-best paint colour name since “Thanks Vermilion.” Unless maybe you prefer “Snow White.”

Next up in Volvo’s product line will be a V90 wagon, again a reminder of the company’s past.

Compact 60-series cars in a similar cadence (XC, S and V) will be next, with a yet smaller family of cars to come.

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Volvo’s mission statement, that no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020, still sounds ambitious. But it speaks to what Volvo is all about.

The company has been down if not completely out for several years since its shotgun divorce from Ford. But it has found a happy saviour in the Chinese Geely company. The new ownership seems determined to give Volvo the financial backing necessary to develop new products without micromanaging them and telling them how to build Volvos. You would assume that is something the Swedes know how to do best.

The toughest aspect of the car business isn’t building cars. Technology is merely science; you can either figure it out, or you can buy it from a supplier.

The toughest thing is building a brand identity, and even people who would never consider a Volvo know what Volvo stands for.

The future should be bright for Volvo.

Freelance writer Jim Kenzie is Chief Auto Reviewer for Toronto Star Wheels. To reach him, please email and put his name in the subject line.

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