Volvo S80

Ask yourself something: When was the last time you noticed a Volvo S80? Now, I don’t mean when was the last time you saw one, the S80 has been around for quite some time, I mean when was the last time you actually took notice of one, and stopped what you were doing to have a proper look at it?

It’s probably fair to say that, like most of us, when hear the word Volvo you instantly, almost subconsciously, conjure up images of large estate cars. Whether it’s the local antiques dealer’s slightly dishevelled S240 complete with a wardrobe on the roof rack, or the blue and white 850Rs that bludgeoned their way through the field of the British touring car championship in the early nineties Volvos to nearly all of us has mean estates. An S80, Volvo’s four-door executive saloon flag-ship barely enters our thoughts.

Perhaps though, that’s the idea. You can’t help feeling the S80 is aimed at a slightly more discreet clientele. One that appreciates the good things in life without feeling the need to show off quite as much as say,… someone who might be tempted to buy an Audi S6, a BMW 5 series a Mercedes E – Class, or perhaps even a Jag. As you’d expect from the Swedes, the S80 exudes an altogether more subtle kind of sophistication.

Even the mild facelift the S80 has had for 2014 doesn’t really attract too much attention. New bumpers, a wider grille and some rectangular LED day-time running lamps are, to the trained eye at least, the more obvious revisions, but really, they’re hardly show stopping stuff.

From the moment you first tug the S80’s sturdy door handle you instantly gain the impression that this is a car that’s been built to last; it’s a feeling that’s carried over to the inside too. The leather that covers the beautifully supportive seats is thick and soft, as is the multi-function steering wheel. All the materials used are high quality, and the brushed aluminium used for door handles and around Volvo’s trademark floating stack centre console add an air of sophistication to a cabin in which it’s incredibly easy to soak up the miles.

And soak up the miles you will. Granted, on broken B- road tarmac the S80 can loose a little of it’s composure, and it’s probably fair to say that it doesn’t offer the same kind of dynamic driving experience as that of it’s Bavarian contemporaries – the steering is a touch vague and lacks a little in feel too. But once out in the open and on smoother surfaces with the DAB on, the climate control and heated seats set to cosy, when the auto ‘box slips itself into sixth the S80 proves itself to be a relaxing and long legged cruiser.

In fact Volvo claim the 2.0 litre 163bhp D4 SE I spent time with is capable of 65.7 mpg,  and because the S80’s got a 70 litre tank it should be good, on paper at least, for just short of 900 miles between fill-ups. Some clever tinkering also means that CO2 emissions are down to 113g/km and the all the important VED (it is an executive car after all) falls into band C. Both the eco-warriors and the fleet managers should be happy with that.

Your rear seat passengers should be smiling too. There’s more than enough room aft of the front arm-chairs to stretch out, and the S80’s boot is more than up to the task of accommodating five people’s luggage. Also there’s a raft of features to keep everyone safe, even those not fortunate to be ensconced inside. Intellisafe -Volvo’s snappy title for all things safety conscious – displays the road signs and speed limits on the instrument panel while a Pedestrian Detection system will deploy the brakes automatically if someone wanders into the road and they’re not spotted by the driver before the cars radar system car picks them up. Then there’s safety-belt pre-tensioners, whiplash protection, driver's knee airbags, lane assist, intelligent cruise control, parking sensors….. The list goes on, and on and because it’s a Volvo, on some more.

It is probably fair to say the S80’s getting on a bit now, and even though it’s had a makeover, for the same kind of money that Volvo will relieve you of you could get a car that offers similar space, build quality and more driver entertainment elsewhere. However if you like to go about your business discreetly, effortlessly and in nigh-on limo like comfort perhaps it’s time you took a little more notice of the Volvo S80.


Volvo S80 D4 SE Start-Stop Geartronic

Engine: 1989cc 5Cyl 20V diesel
Transmission: 6 speed Geartronic Auto, Front wheel drive.
Power:  163 bhp @ 4500 rpm
Torque: 295 lbft @ 1750 - 2500rpm
0-62MPH: 7.9 Sec
Max Speed: 140 mph
CO2: 113g/km
MPG: 65.7 combined
Price: from £33,770

Many thanks to Volvo’s UK press office for the loan of their S80



Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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