From £24,8907
Offbeat, but nonetheless credible, rival to leading German executive saloons benefits from a mild overhaul

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

Matt Burt
25 August 2013

What is it?

The Volvo S80 D5 SE Lux is an updated version of the Swedish firm’s big saloon, which is a rival for the BMW 5-series, Mercedes-Benz E-class and Audi A6.

There’s been a subtle restyle for this most recent iteration of a car that first came onto the market back in 2006, although it’s definitely a ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-it’ evolution. The front and rear bumpers have been tweaked to make the car look wider and lower, and there’s more chrome detailing to give the Volvo S80 a more premium feel. There are also new rectangular daytime running lights at the front.

This latest car also gets some kit upgrades, such as DAB radio as standard and the inclusion of the exceptionally clear TFT driver display first seen on the V40 and now standard equipment on SE Lux models such as the one we drove.

What's it like?

There’s something reassuring about the understated appeal of cars like this; the S80 exudes restrained charm and has a fuss-free way of covering long journeys while cocooning occupants in a beguilingly luxurious cabin.

The Volvo S80 excels ergonomically. The cabin feels light, airy and uncluttered, with plenty of room for front and rear passengers. The seating and driving position both feel instantly comfortable and, this being a Volvo, stalks and switches engage with a reassuringly secure ‘thunk’ or ‘click’.

On the other hand, the layout of the centre console controls is fiddly and doesn’t feel particularly intuitive. For example, setting the front windscreen heater to ‘full’ demands a longer look down at the rectangular array of buttons than is desirable when you’re focused on the road. 

Under the bonnet there’s a hearty 2.4-litre five-pot that possesses plenty of low and mid-range punch, although if you accelerate too aggressively, the thrum cuts through the cabin tranquility like a sneeze in a library. When you get the S80 up to motorway cruising speed there’s nary a murmur, however.

Our test car featured Volvo’s active chassis (a £1000 option), which provides three damper settings. In Comfort mode, the S80’s ride provides pliant absorption of road imperfections. There’s a hint of body roll during cornering. The other settings, Sport and Advanced, offer incremental increases in dynamism, but don’t turn cruiser into full-blooded charger, something that’s not assisted by a lack of steering feel.

The six-speed automatic transmission accentuates the chilled-out ambience with its languid ratio-swapping, although can be specified with paddle shifters (a £150 option) if you want to chivvy it along. For more involvement, there’s a six-speed manual gearbox, which is £1485 cheaper.

Should I buy one?

It’s probable that the sweet spot in the S80 range lies elsewhere. The high specification of our test car nudges the price of the S80 up to £43,355. That could make it a challenge for Volvo to lure some buyers away from, say, a similarly priced BMW 5-series, since this S80 never invites the same level of driver engagement as Munich’s offering.

For drivers who rate security and comfort over sporting prowess, however, it does provide a benign and very luxurious alternative. The characteristics of the engine and the sumptuousness of the interior suggest it is a strong choice for long motorway tours.

Prospective buyers would do well to test drive S80s equipped with the Comfort Chassis and the active Four-C (Continuously Controlled Chassis Concept) version to assess whether they really need to pay out for the latter. Similarly, those who don’t mind stirring their own gears could lop another significant figure off the price.

Volvo S80 D5 SE Lux

Price £36,355; 0-62mph 7.8sec; Top speed 140mph; Economy 46.3mpg; CO2 159g/km; Kerb weight 1688kg; Engine 5-cylinder, 2400cc, diesel; Power 212bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 325lb ft at 1500-3000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd automatic

Join the debate

Comments
6

25 August 2013

It's an elegant, restrained choice, especially next to the in-your-face Mercedes E-Class.  And even though the Jaguar XF is much more desirable, it's also quite expensive!

25 August 2013

I like to support the underdog but I don't see who would buy this car in this day and age. 46MPG is not good enough.

25 August 2013

Ray60 wrote:

I like to support the underdog but I don't see who would buy this car in this day and age. 46MPG is not good enough.

The problem is that is a genuine 46mpg,  many manufacturers claim better, but do they really get it, and he must have been driving it like a loon to get figures that low, I regularly see a realistic 50+ , however around town it is slightly worse.

Also the fact that its only needed slight updates after being on sale for 7 years, just proves how right they got it in the first place, the shape IMO has aged very well.

25 August 2013

Looks a bit old before and still looks old after the updates.  If this second gen came out in 2006 and this is only a mild update some 7 years later does this mean it'll be a 10 year old design before it gets replaced?

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

25 August 2013

Ever since it's UK launch, the S80 always had comfort on it's side with some of the best seats available in any car, regardless of price. However:

Problem 1: it may be Ok as a used choice but not new. It's a HUGE depreciator - always has been.

Problem 2: The D5 Auto is yesterday's news. Where as the D2, D3 and D4 have modern autos, the D5 is old school, suffers from high g/km therefore not tax friendly.

Problem 3: You could buy the manual version, but good luck to anyone who tries to sell it.

So if a private buyer isn't going to purchase it new because of heavy depreciation, and a company driver will find it very expensive compared to it's German rivals, who's going to buy this D5 auto? 

The S80 always was a dud in the UK but in todays market, why even bother? 

27 August 2013

scotty5 wrote:

Ever since it's UK launch, the S80 always had comfort on it's side with some of the best seats available in any car, regardless of price. However:

So if a private buyer isn't going to purchase it new because of heavy depreciation, and a company driver will find it very expensive compared to it's German rivals, who's going to buy this D5 auto? 

The S80 always was a dud in the UK but in todays market, why even bother? 

The S80 slightly used in a high spec makes a very popular and good private hire vehicle for those whose income comes from the airport run for businessmen.

I personally know of them being used for this for many years running up big mileages with very few problems. Currently a friend has over 240k miles on his and it drives and looks almost as it did at 6 months old.

Volvo's convey a sensible, safe and comfortable image without any sense of extravagence of a Mercedes or similar, just the right image for a business employee on his travels.

maxecat

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