Volvo S80 review
The Volvo S80 is a comfortable, spacious and safe saloon, that offers low running costs in DRIVe spec
The Volvo S80 is the Swedish company's flagship saloon, and is similar in size to the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series. It's certainly spacious and has lots of equipment as standard, not to mention a wide engine range. But the ride is quite unsettled, and the big Volvo can be very costly to run if you go for anything other than a DRIVe model. It just doesn't stand out next to newer and far more competent competition from the German prestige brands, as well as the Jaguar XF.
Our choice: Volvo S80 2.0 D3 (163) SE
Despite a facelift which has added new lights and a larger grille, the Volvo S80 looks rather anonymous and blends into traffic very easily. No wonder the police use so many of them. Still, while it's not remotely fashionable, it's quite handsome. Inside, though, the S80 really shows its age – it's nowhere near as upmarket in terms of design and material quality as rivals from Audi, BMW and Jaguar. However, it is well equipped – even entry-level ES models have climate and cruise control.
The Volvo S80 has a wide range of engine choices. Eco-friendly DRIVe variants come with a 114bhp 1.6-litre diesel, the D3 gets a 161bhp 2.0-litre diesel, and there's also a 215bhp 2.5-litre five-cylinder diesel for the D5. As for petrols, there's a 178bhp 1.6-litre turbo T4, a 237bhp 2.0-litre turbo T5 and a 300bhp 3.0-litre turbo for the T6, which also has four-wheel drive. Predictably, it's the diesels that are best – we'd go for the D3, as it provides decent punch and is economical, too. Vague steering lets the S80 down in corners, and it's not keen on changing direction either. The ride is unsettled over poor road surfaces, although it's fine on the motorway. Refinement is only average, with some engine noise on the diesels and some crashing from the suspension over bumps.
Volvo cars are known for their excellent safety, and the S80 is no different – it has traction and stability control, six airbags and active anti-whiplash head restraints as standard. Options include BLIS, Volvo's blind-spot warning system, as well as active cruise control – which keeps the car a set distance from the vehicle in front, and even automatically slows the car down. Reliability should be good – the S80 has been on the road long enough for any major faults to be ironed out – and there's decent service from Volvo's dealers, too.
The Volvo S80 is a large car, and as a result it has lots of space for four tall passengers. The driving position is very good, with lots of adjustment and the seats are some of best on the market - supportive and capable of leaving you ache-free after many miles at the wheel. The cabin is old, but at least it's logically laid out, although visibility is marred by the chunky windscreen pillars. Despite decent passenger space, the boot only measures 422 litres – a BMW 5 Series has another 100 litres.
If you want to get as many miles out of a tank of diesel as possible, then the DRIVe versions will be for you. They're slow, but Volvo claims 62.8mpg and emissions of just 119g/km. That's not bad when you consider the £25,000+ price tag. However, the D3 provides a better performance compromise and does around 50mpg while emitting 129g/km. The big problem for the S80, though, is depreciation. Its lack of desirability means there's little demand on the used market. At least service intervals of 18,000 miles mean you won't see a dealer that often.