From £24,890
In six-cylinder guise, the S80 delivers a great drive and a glimpse into Jaguar's future.

Our Verdict

Volvo S80
The S80 has appeal for drivers who spend their days on the motorway

The Volvo S80 is a comfortable way to cover long distances, but it fails to excite in a way the class best can

27 April 2006

What's new? A large, six-cylinder Volvo doesn't often arouse great curiosity, but the considerable weight of expectation surrounding the first press of this S80's starter button is borne of wider knowledge - this car has the engine that will power the next generation of six-cylinder Jaguars.The new unit is all-alloy and notable for its compact dimensions - it's only 3mm longer than the five-cylinder D5 in the diesel version of the car. As it's mounted transversely here - to the benefit of front impact protection for the cabin - that's very helpful, and partly why ancilliaries such as the power steering and air conditioning compressors are run off the rear end of the crankshaft and located above the gearbox.In the S80, the unit produces 235bhp and 236lb ft of torque, assisted by a raft of technology. There's variable valve timing, a variable air intake system with two throttle flap valves and new 'cam profile switching' on the inlet side of the engine. This allows two different valve openings depending on engine load and revs, similar to Honda's VTEC set-up.What's it like? At low speeds, the new unit is very refined, with only a murmur making its way into the cabin. Put your right foot down further and the growl is pleasingly sonorous. It's clear that within a new S-type the powerplant will be far superior to the V6 that's currently under the Jaguar's bonnet.Should I buy one? But that's the last mention of the English concern here, because the new S80 is a very nice home for the straight six. It provides ample motion for the Volvo, which doesn't feel that much slower than the heavier V8 machine. We noted in last week's first drive of the V8 S80 that this is a comfortable and refined car, and the six suits its character. Despite being front driven it feels controlled and precise, if rather sterile. If you do become bored, there's always the interior to admire.The 3.2 may just be the best S80, which considering the competency of this latest Volvo is praise indeed.Adam Towler

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • BMW M5
    First Drive
    22 March 2018
    Super saloon deploys four-wheel drive to improve every facet of its driving experience. Faster and more capable than any, and more exciting than most, of its celebrated predecessors
  • Range Rover Sport SVR
    First Drive
    22 March 2018
    More power and an intoxicating soundtrack have breathed new life into our love affair with the biggest, baddest Range Rover Sport variant
  • First Drive
    21 March 2018
    The new Vantage has been developed as a Porsche 911 beater, and our first taste on UK roads suggests it can live up to that bold claim
  • Nissan Leaf Tekna
    The is the new Nissan Leaf
    First Drive
    21 March 2018
    The new version of the world's best-selling electric car gains a bigger battery and more power. How does it compare to rivals such as the Volkswagen e-Golf?
  • Range Rover p400e
    First Drive
    20 March 2018
    The original luxury SUV is now available as a plug-in hybrid, promising lower emissions and the capacity for silent electric motoring