- We like...Well priced; good engine
- We don't...Screen pillars obstruct view
Small changes transform this big Swedish saloon. It's now classy, fun, well priced and... really rather goodLately, big Volvos have had a rep for being, well, a bit ‘alternative’. If you couldn’t bear the thrusting, Germanic efficiency of a Mercedes-Benz E-class, or if the cool aggression of a BMW was quite ‘you’, then just maybe a Volvo, like the S80, would have done.
But now, in a bid to break out of this quirky niche it has found itself in, Volvo has breathed new life into the car and here we have it, the 2010 S80. There’s a lot to what the company has done, but it boils down to lowering and retuning the suspension, and working on the engines so that they sip less fuel and pump fewer pollutants, while losing none of their punch.
While it dsn’t have the first-look image punch and class that you get with its German rivals, the S80 is still a handsome car, if in a cool, almost understated, sort of way. If you’ve picked one precisely because you want something distinctly different from the German brands, you’ll not be disappointed.
It’s a big car, this, giving oodles of space in the cabin – genuinely enough for five well-fed grown-ups – and there's a long, well-shaped boot. Inside, it’s classy, too. There’s not the sense of occasion you’ll feel in, say, a Merc, but the cabin is a place where you’ll feel cosseted – not least because the front seats are, we reckon, among the comfiest you’ll find anywhere, no matter how much you spend.
One other point of note is that the layout for controls and switches is as clear as you’ll find anywhere. It’s the kind of car that you can jump into for the first drive and drive straight off, without needing first to spend 10 minutes sorting out in your head which switch ds what. And the whole ambience says ‘cool, Swedish-style. Like other Volvos, it has a weird ‘floating’ centre console. We like how it looks, but found it too easy to lose phones and the like in the hidden space behind it.
Big Volvos of yore had as tendency to wallow and feel vague on the road, in marked contrast to their sharp-driving rivals. But the changes to the way it rides and drives have worked a transformation. It now nips along a bendy more cleanly than you’d expect of a car its size and somehow seems to ‘shrink’ around you as you drive. While it can’t claim the steering feel and precision you’ll see from a rear-drive BMW or Mercedes, this car’s front-drive set up ds well enough and, coupled with a ride that smoothes over bumps admirably but keeps the car pretty well ‘tied’ to the road, it makes for an engaging drive.
The 2.4-litre, five-cylinder diesel powering it ds well, burbling nicely and pulling hard when you need, doing so without undue noise or fuss. And the Geartronic gearbox in our car slipped between gears seamlessly, picking them for you or letting you choose your own with equal aplomb.
What’s more, this version gs as far on a gallon as one with a manual gearbox, is quicker to accelerate, and chucks out less from its exhaust. It’s the one to have.
And it’s good value, too. Price it up against the competition and you should find it’s a bargain. The S80? Deserves to do well.
To view and buy new and used Volvo S80s on motors.co.uk, click here
- Engines2.4 diesel
- 0-60 mph7.5secs
- Insurance groups16
Motors.co.uk value verdict: