Published on May 5th, 2020 | by Subhash Nair


Simple Visual Guide: Volvo S60 vs S90

The current Volvo family has a very distinct look characterised by classy, mildly angular lines and good use of colour and material. When Thomas Ingenlath and his team first set out to define the new Volvo family look, he told people in the company to think of it as a different types of shoes from the same brand. Imagine pairs of running shoes, oxfords and boots all being part of the same product line. They’d all have easily recognisable common design elements, but they’d each have their own identity that would be linked to their purpose.

We finally see how this plays out in Volvo’s sedan lineup. Right now they have the S90 doing battle with the E-Class and 5 Series, while the S60 takes on the C-Class and 3-Series. A luxury sedan and a sports sedan.

Because these Volvos are still relatively fresh in the minds of many of us, we thought we’d take this opportunity to point out easy ways to distinguish to two at a glance.

On the left, I’ve placed photos of the S60 in its R-Design trim. On the right, we have the S90 in its Inscription trim. I’ll try and avoid talking about bumper and grille designs, as this may vary from trim level to trim level. The S90 was once offered in CBU form as the Momentum and R-Design, so we’d best avoid using changing trim parts to identify these cars. We’ll also be avoiding rim design differences, as owners may opt to swap between rims, and these are bound to change from one trim to another as well.

Front View

The easiest way to tell the two apart from the front is by looking at shape of the headlight. In the S60, the “Thor’s Hammer” daytime running light protrudes out into the bodywork, toward the grille. In the S90, the daytime running light is contained within the headlight enclosure. Check the yellow highlight below for reference.

A less obvious way to differentiate the models is by looking at where the hood meets the headlight. In the S60, this is further towards the centre of the car, while in the S90, it’s noticably further away from the centre (green highlight). Also note the difference in the angle.

Front Fender

We found the most obvious giveaway was the absence of a front parking sensor on the S60.

From this angle, you may still be able to catch the protruding daytime running light of the S60 (yellow highlight).

If that’s not enough, pay attention to the way the fender joins with the bumper. If the panel gap is lined up with the daytime running light, you’re looking at an S60. If it reaches up to connect to the corner of the headlight enclosure, it’s an S90 (red highlight).

We also noticed the hood is more sculpted and curved on the S60 (green highlight).

Interesting note: both cars are built on the Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA). The length between the front axle and the dashboard is fixed on SPA. The difference in length between the windscreen and front end between the cars should be in the overhang mostly.

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Discussing the differences at the rear might be a little pointless as the badges are found here. But we’ll give it a go anyway. The first thing to note is the placement of the license plate. If it’s on the bumper, it’s an S90. If it’s on the boot lid, it’s the S60 (yellow highlight). On the S60, this placement pushes the “VOLVO” lettering above the character line, while on the S90, this is placed underneath it (red highlight). The emergency brake lights also take different positions, with the S90’s being mounted at the bottom of the rear glass and the S60’s being mounted at the top (green highlight). We mentioned not using the bumpers as reference, but it’s also worth noting the foglights or reflectors are on the bumper in the S60. Even on the S90 R-Design, this is not a feature on its bumper.

A closer look at the taillights reveal stark differences in the graphics, but the general C-shape remains. What’s worth noting is how the top half of the taillight ends in contrasting angles (yellow highlight). Another interesting note is the crease where the rear of the car transitions to the side is integrated within the tail light cluster on the S90 while it’s exposed on the S60 (blue highlight).

Side, C-Pillar

Here’s an interesting angle. The C Pillar of the S60 has only a decorative piece of plastic trim on it, while the S90’s C Pillar has an entire window section (green highlight). Also the rear wheel arch is integrated to the bootlid on the S60 while on the S90 it is flowed into the rear bumper (yellow highlight).

We hope you find this simple guide helpful. If you spot other differences, please let us know in the comments or by emailing us at [email protected] or [email protected]

About the Author

Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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