REVIEW DATE: 11 Jun 2007
The S80 2.5T Is In The Vanguard Of Volvo's Attempt To Muscle Its Way Into The Big Time. Steve Ghosley Sees If It Has The Necessary Fire-Power.
Volvo's S80 is designed to appeal to buyers who have not driven a Volvo before. With seventy per cent of new S80 customers predicted to be new to Volvo, the manufacturers are hoping to significantly dent the sales figures of the rival premium brands. The model most likely to be at the forefront of this noble quest is the S80 2.5T that we look at here.
It will be easy to mistake this vehicle as a facelift instead of the all-new car it actually is. There are the reassuringly familiar proportions, the solid, dependable Volvo design cues and the emphasis on safety that comes very much as standard with Volvo. There is, however, plenty more worth looking at.
Let's start with that styling. It's only when you get the old S80 next to the latest car that you'll see quite how far it has evolved. Yes, many of the primary design cues are still much the same. The car retains the distinctive shoulders that run all the way back to the tail lights that look like a piece of ornate marquetry. The roofline is still arched in an almost coupe-like manner and there's still a rather bluff grille up front. Where the biggest changes have been made is in the vehicle's stance and its fine detailing. Compared to the latest model, the old car looks notably less athletic. It seems to ride higher and the front and rear overhangs are longer.
According to Volvo, the S80 is all about 'evolutionary design', with all the shapes and materials it uses representing 'a continuous development of the Volvo design language'. The idea, they say, was to give the car a more youthful and dynamic stance, while creating an even more inviting atmosphere by using refined materials and colours that blend smoothly with smart, user-friendly technology. Today's S80 is certainly packaged better than its predecessor and is far better finished. Just take a look at the headlights, a small feature I know, but indicative of the attention to detail that Volvo have put into this model. The bi-xenon lamps are integrated beautifully with the grille and bumper assemblies, giving the front of the S80 the same dynamic look as the smaller S40.
"This S80 is packaged better than its predecessor and is far better finished"
The interior pursues a different set of design goals than many of the S80's direct rivals. It's refreshing that a premium manufacturer has the nous to go its own way in terms of design and the S80's 'Scandinavian Luxury' take differs from the increasingly prevalent Teutonic themes offered by the majority of the other premium brands. Volvo claim their 'design language' radiates a simpler, more stylish and modern feel by combining aesthetics and technology in a more inviting and intelligent way. The interior design offers a blend of no-nonsense Scandinavian style with a slim 'floating' centre stack, quality materials for upholsteries and a choice of inlays and colour schemes that blend smoothly together. As ever, Volvo is highly committed to providing safety leadership in its class.
This entry-level S80 is powered by the five-cylinder 200bhp 2.5-litre turbo petrol unit carried over from the previous model. This is not surprising as it's a robust and tested powerplant that develops a healthy 320Nm of torque. The turbocharger unit has been cleverly integrated into the exhaust manifold to give the engine a very compact design. The 0-60mph sprint is achieved in a very sprightly 7.2 seconds, going on to a maximum top speed of 148mph.
Safety technology for the S80 includes a unique Personal Car Communicator (PCC) and new active safety systems - Collision Warning and Brake Support - with Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), active Bi-Xenon headlights and a patented body structure developed at the Volvo Safety Centre. The S80 includes an optional key fob offering 'keyless drive' and incorporating a world first innovation - the Personal Car Communicator (PCC) which features intelligent technology to remotely check if the car is locked or not. It can also alert you if the alarm has been activated and it features a heartbeat sensor which warns if there is anyone in the car.
Another interesting technology is the Collision Warning system which alerts the driver, via a 'heads-up' warning display on the windscreen plus an audible buzzer, if the gap to the car in front closes so fast that a collision is likely. At the same time, the Brake Support system boosts the braking force to ensure braking is as effective as possible. The active Bi-Xenon headlights turn the beam of the headlights in the direction the steering wheel is being turned, allowing better visibility deeper into corners at night and also helping to highlight the immediate verge where a pedestrian, cyclist or parked vehicle could be obscured.
Volvo have, to date, been rather hamstrung in their upmarket aspirations for the S80 by the fact that only a certain amount of power will happily be transmitted to the road through the car's front wheels. The 272bhp deployed by the old S80 T6 really was straining at the limits of what the chassis could reasonably handle and Volvo could only look on helplessly as very powerful versions of the rear wheel drive BMW 5 Series, Jaguar S-TYPE, Lexus GS, and Mercedes E Class proved highly profitable for their respective makers. Audi's quattro all-wheel drive system fitted to its A6 seems to have prompted Volvo's engineers to greater things and they've responded in quite some manner with the latest model which itself has four driven wheels.
The Volvo S80 is a beautifully-engineered car and with the 2.5-litre turbo likely to be the best seller in the range, Volvo will be expecting great things from this model. It has some clever innovations and is stylishly finished. Whether or not it has enough to seriously dent the sales figures of the established premium brands, only time will tell.
The results below show the top S80 deals on buyacar
|Volvo S80 D4  SE Lux 4dr Geartronic diesel saloon|
|Price £26,265||Save £8,690|
|Volvo S80 D4  SE Lux 4dr diesel saloon|
|Price £24,951||Save £8,519|
|Volvo S80 D4  SE Nav 4dr Geartronic diesel saloon|
|Price £24,937||Save £8,518|
|Volvo S80 D5  Executive 4dr Geartronic diesel saloon|
|Price £29,886||Save £9,139|
|Volvo S80 D5  SE Lux 4dr Geartronic diesel saloon|
|Price £27,674||Save £8,851|
|VIEW MORE DISCOUNT S80 DEALS|
|OVERALL||6.9 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||7|
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