Volvo S80

Car details navigation

Volvo S80 Car Review | May 1, 1999

Driven May 1999

Additional Info

The best things don't come in threes, they come in fives. You know, like the Jackson Five, high fives, five gooo-old rings, five Porsche 911s, er...oh yes, and this five-cylinder Volvo S80.

So on this occasion, then, why, you may ask, does five=good? Well, we've already tested a six-cylinder, twin-turbo Volvo S80 T6 and found it to be something of an irrelevance. Quick, most definitely, yet lacking in driver excitement as well as being low on prestige for its high sticker price.

This new entry-level five cylinder S80 somehow makes an awful lot of sense. For starters, just look at that price. At a deeply reasonable £22,930 it's a full £13,300 less than the T6. And despite an on-paper deficit of one cylinder and 132bhp, it also convincingly retains all the qualities of its plusher and dearer cousin.

Comfort is what it's all about. Relax into the huge cabin and the seats offer just about the right blend of support and squashiness. The driving position is multi-adjustable and claustrophobics will love the acres of elbow wiggling space available in all directions.

Only Volvo's nannying safety efforts disturb the calm in the cabin, the headlights staying permanently on and an alarm grating away to tell the driver off for removing his or her seatbelt, even if only to reverse into the garage.

Still, those whose journeys take in the joys of the Watford Gap and Scratchwood Services will appreciate the fact that this S80 is a supreme motorway cruiser. Unlike the lumpy ride of every other Volvo I can think of, this car smooths over broken surfaces which still avoiding nausea-provoking remoteness from the road.

Its in-line five-cylinder, 2.4-litre 20-valve powerplant also settles to an unintrusively refined cruise. Power output might initially seem stingy at 140bhp (there's also a 170bhp version on the five-cylinder theme for an extra £1,575) but any shortfall really isn't noticeable - this engine pulls strongly through the gears. It even produces an excellent burble when pushed, just like the in-line fives that powered Audi's 80's Quattro rally cars - well almost.

More power, as the T6 proves, isn't always the finest idea. This lowliest five-cylinder S80 also feels lighter on its feet, its saner output being a better match for the S80's stable and composed - although in no way exciting - front-wheel0drive chassis.

Like I said before, five really can be best. Just let's not mention Five Star, bunches of five or the Famous Five.

For relaxing on the motorway
Against sleep inducing elsewhere

Now share it...

Latest road tests

6/10 Volvo S80 1.6 D Drive
April 2010

What do you think?

This service is provided by Disqus and is subject to their privacy policy and terms of use. Please read Top Gear's code of conduct (link below) before posting.

Search Volvo S80 for sale