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Volvo S80 I6 SE Car Review | May 15, 2007

Driven May 2007

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Ooh, What an excellent car the S80 is. So easy to forget that it's out there, what with the overbearing presence of the 5-Series, A6 and E-Class, but Volvo's flagship saloon is a stonker.

Like that proper pair of shoes you find at the back of the wardrobe when yet another pair of shitty trainers has given up the ghost, the S80 is a stalwart.

And it's back in these pages because of a new 3.2-litre I6, another straight six to replace the old 2.9-litre T6 as the mid-whack petrol in the line-up. And that's bloody good too, so the whole package is now spot-on.

No need for a thumping great V8 in a car that champions understatement. No need for rear-wheel-drive in a car devoid of sporting pretension. What you get here is a big, solid, sensible bit of kit, now complete with a comparably sensible engine.

There's a fairly modest 235bhp available, matched with 236lb ft of torque. Through a six-speed auto, that will bring up 60mph in a respectable 7.9 seconds and top out at 149mph. Not bad from a nation unable to comprehend the notion of speed for pleasure. The I6 feels lively without ever sounding too stressed by the demands of over 1.5 tonnes of kerbweight.

Refinement is top notch, and coupled with a ride quality that's vastly superior to lesser Volvos and cabin comfort that's second to none, this feels every bit the executive cruiser that so few people remember it is.

The engine is actually made in Wales, but don't let this ruin the smugness you get from the I6, like when you clamber aboard and everything is tight and solid and just so, and you press the small and emphatically unshowy starter button and wallow in the sheer Swedish-ness.

It's so nice not doing the whole German Schnell! thing, or the impenetrably weird Japanese thing (Lexus GS you are stranger than fiction), but instead just to be in a car that is so honest, both in concept and execution, that at no point will you ever need to justify it to yourself or your friends.

And now you don't even need to validate the big V8 or a small diesel inside it because you have an excellent balance of economy and performance from the in-line six.

Explain away your BMW with tales of hero handling, justify a GS for its bulletproof build, qualify that E-Class for its sheer badge prestige. Or just buy an inline six S80 and sit in quiet, comforting silence.

Matt Master

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