From a scuba diver's point of view, driving to your diving destination beats flying any day because it means you get to dive to your heart's content without having to worry about minimum pre-flight surface interval. In layman's terms, because of the difference in altitude, the recommended time between the last dive and flight out should be a minimum of 18 hours, or you risk getting decompression sickness (where nitrogen bubbles in the body expand, and causes severe pain, potentially fatal in some cases). Given we only had 3 days of diving, driving to Tioman was the obvious choice of transportation.
With a 7am ferry to catch, and the journey taking almost 5 hours, we had a very early start ahead of us. So after forty winks, we hit the roads and thankfully we had the Volvo S90 T8 Twin Engine sedan for this trip. A brand that has firmly established itself with safety as their top priority, we were reassured knowing that the car was equipped with features like IntelliSafe—an automatic braking functionality, combined with collision avoidance systems to prevent potential accidents.
To make driving more comfortable, the S90 is also equipped with Adaptive Cruise Control, Distance Alert, and Pilot Assist, the latter being a semi-autonomous drive feature. When I first tried out Pilot Assist, I didn't trust it fully, and stepped on the brake early as the car seemed like it was heading towards the car ahead at a speed that was a bit too fast for my liking. But of course, Volvo has got it all under control—it just takes a bit of getting used to, and you can actually set the car to stop at a distance that's comfortable for you. The advanced Pilot Assist feature also detects lane markings and gently steers the car (regulations require the driver to still have their hands on the steering wheel) to keep it properly aligned, without the need to follow a car ahead.
Now, if you've ever driven the old roads to the Tanjung Gemok jetty, you'll probably know that there are no street lamps for long stretches at a time, no shops, rest stops or petrol stations in sight. This is where the headlights with full-LED Active High Beam Illumination, and the Bowers & Wilkins 19-speaker sound system really came in handy. Short of turning around and heading back towards the main highway with street lamps, which would've taken us a much longer time to get to the jetty, we powered through the darkness, with the lights on full beam and roads clearly lit, Apple Music playlist turned up, streaming through an impressive sound system that allowed for three specially created sound presets: studio, stage and concert hall. Given the scenario we were in, we opted for the concert hall preset—all the better for us to feel like we were surrounded by music we liked, in this case, EDM. I appreciated the large touchscreen centre display, which made adjusting things like air cond temperature or music volume a breeze, although, there's also voice control to do that for you. Think Siri, but without having to say 'Hey Siri'.
The 5-hour journey turned out to be a real breeze—the car's luxe leather seats were both supportive yet comfortable, and the handsome walnut trim gave an added warmth to the interior. Engine-wise, the T8 Twin Engine combines a turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine powering the front, and an electric motor driving the rear axle. There are three driving modes to choose from: Pure, electric-only power and near-silent driving, Power, a mix of turbocharged, supercharged and electric motor, and Hybrid, which is the default mode, that uses either the petrol engine, electric motor or a combination of the two.
Needless to say, our journey turned out to be pretty uneventful, thankfully, and we arrived at the Tanjung Gemok jetty with time to spare for a much-needed teh tarik.
The Volvo S90 T8 Twin Engine Inscription is priced at RM348,045.16 (without insurance), while the T8 Twin Engine Inscription Plus is priced at RM366,913.09 (without insurance). Click here for more information.