Sometimes, different is enough. There are those who want an executive car but don’t want a BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 or Mercedes-Benz E-Class. So they opt for a Volvo S80 (now S90), a Jaguar XF, or a Lexus GS. Sometimes those cars are excellent, sometimes they’re not. But they are different.

The old Volvo S80 was good enough, in its own way. Its cabin was airy, spacious and light – almost Ikea-like – and offered just about the highest levels of comfort in the business. If you wanted dynamism, though, you’d be disappointed.

Evidently Volvo was happy with the image the original S80 purveyed, because it kept this generation looking very similar. Peter Horbury was behind the designs of both cars, as well as the Volvo ECC concept of 1992, the styling of which the S80 continues to draw heavily from.

Volvo reckons the dimensions give the big saloon a more imposing stance and greater presence. See old and new S80s side by side and you almost believe it’s true. And this is a neatly designed, attractive car. But alone, the new S80 barely registers the interest of passers-by. When Volvo created the S90, it was a big departure from the understated, demure look of the S80 for a more elegant and striking looking saloon and estate.

It’s necessary to view the Volvo S80 with a sense of proportion. This car is never going to be an Autocar driver’s favourite. But it could make a case for business drivers who rarely leave the motorway because they need to get where they are going.

Top 5 Luxury

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lamborghini Aventador S
    First Drive
    21 January 2017
    Is an upgrade to 730bhp and the addition of four-wheel steering enough to realise the Aventador's potential?
  • Ford Focus RS Mountune FPM375
    First Drive
    20 January 2017
    Does an official Mountune upgrade of 25bhp and 30lb ft, improve the already rampant and rather magnificent Ford Focus RS?
  • Audi S5 Sportback
    First Drive
    19 January 2017
    The Audi S5 Sportback is more bruising GT than practical sports car, but it makes sense for those wanting a fast executive saloon in coupé get-up
  • First Drive
    18 January 2017
    Despite receiving a cosmetic and mechanical refresh, Lexus's compact executive saloon still fails to provide much driving involvement
  • 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 5h review
    First Drive
    18 January 2017
    Big-selling plug-in SUV gets a light refresh in the face of new challengers to offer decent economy but only average driving dynamics