Car Test   R0242
May 2002
  Volvo S80
Printer Friendly Page Featured model: D5 SE Automatic
There comes a time when dated hand-me-downs just arenít good enough. Volvo felt that way about the Audi diesel engine that powered its S80 and decided to run up an up-to-the-minute, all-alloy turbocharged derv-burner of its own.
   It made a lovely job of it, too. This is a light, all-alloy, five-cylinder unit using common-rail fuelling and a high-tech turbine. The result is smooth, spirited performance thatís only marginally blunted by the splendid five-speed automatic transmission (£1100 extra) with which our car was equipped. With shifts that are barely perceptible, this is the next best thing to CVT, even though it lacks the sophistication of Volvoís Geartronic system.
   On start-up, youíre vaguely aware that the D5 isnít petrol powered, but otherwise youíre hard put to know it. Itís particularly impressive when motorway cruising in the long-striding top gear. Itís reasonably frugal, too, but remember that the manual version is a whopping 20 per cent more economical. Show the S80 a stretch of broken tarmac road and its firm, fidgety suspension is disappointing. The car rides with well-composed authority on main roads and motorways, however. Although it doesnít exactly handle with the enthusiasm of the S60, it feels stable and grippy in the turns, with steering thatís fluid and nicely weighted Ė if a bit short on informative feedback.
   The brakes are excellent and itís good to note that, with the advent of (optional) brake-assist, they are now less head-noddingly sudden in ordinary check braking.
   Twin cushion height and lumbar adjustments ensure that most drivers sit comfortably at the tilt-and-telescope steering wheel, but the fixed head restraints and wide pillars gang up to make manoeuvring awkward in tight spaces. Some small warning lights are easily missed, but the well-placed instruments and controls (including wheel-mounted cruise control and hi-fi buttons) are models of clarity.
   Indeed, the cabin design is clean and functional, and everything feels solid and carefully crafted. And smell that leather! There are several option packs to chose from, or you can select individual items of equipment to tailor your S80 just the way you want it. Volvoís exemplary inventory of safety and security features comes as standard, though, naturally.
   Back seat passengers are spoilt for spaciousness in all directions and the 60/40-split fold seat is as comfortable and supportive as it looks. Climate control is standard and its features include centre door pillar vents and floor level outlets for those in the back.
   The boot is huge.
  considering size, price and rivals
Overtaking Ability
Fuel Economy
Safety Euro NCAP
Security, theft of
theft from
  • top quality fit and finish
  • superb, easy-to-work hi-fi
  • up/down, side-to-side heat variation
  • comprehensive lighting throughout car
  • widespread six-jet washer system
  • room for left calf not over-generous
  • immovable head restraints - block view
  • windscreen shade-band oppressive
  • "space-saver" spare wheel
  • door side pockets not much use
As if its spacious, club-class interior, splendid build quality and safety credentials werenít enough, Volvo can now add a quick, quiet and fuel-stretching diesel to the S80ís list of attributes. Itís a superb engine which, together with the equally impressive automatic transmission, makes the D5 a highly desirable addition to the S80 range for the cost-counting sybarite.

engine 2435cc, 5 cylinder, diesel; 163bhp at 4000rpm, 251 lb ft at 1750rpm; belt/gear-driven double overhead camshafts, 20 valves   transmission 5-speed stepped automatic, front-wheel drive with stability and traction control. 28.8mph/1000rpm in 5th, 22.3 in 4th
suspension front: independent coil spring/damper struts, lower arms, anti-roll bar; rear: independent multi-links, coil springs, anti-roll bar   steering hydraulic power assistance; 3.1 turns lock to lock; 11.8m diameter turning circle between kerbs (17.1m for one turn of the wheel)
brakes ventilated discs front, solid discs rear with electronic anti-lock (ABS) and brake force distribution (EBD); optional brake-assist on test car   wheels/tyres 7in alloy with 215/55ZR16W tyres (Michelin Pilot HX on test car); temporary (steel) spare

size and type large/executive (premium-priced) four-door saloon   trim levels S, SE
engines petrol: 5 cyl/2.4 litre/140bhp, 5/2.4/170, 5/2.4T/200, 5/2.9/196, 5/2.9T/272 diesel: 5/2.4/163 bi-fuel: (LPG and CNG) 5/2.4/140   drive front-wheel drive, 5-speed manual (5-speed stepped automatic option); 5-speed automatic standard on 2.9, 4-speed Geartronic standard on T6, optional on 2.9

HOW THE S80 D5 AUTO COMPARES engine (cyl/cc/bhp) revs at 70mph (rpm) 30-70 through gears (sec) 30-70mph in 4th/5th gears (sec) fuel (mpg/CO2) brakes from 50mph (kg/m) maximum legroom - front (cm) typical leg/kneeroom - rear (cm) steering turns/circle (m) overall length (cm)
Volvo S80 D5 (auto) 5/2435/163 2430 9.3 auto 36/207 16/25 111 105/82 3.1/11.8 482
Audi A6 2.4 M'tronic (auto)* V6/2393/165 2340 8.3 17.1/27 30.5/240 19/23 109 100/74 2.8/11.2 480
CitroŽn C5 2.2 HDi (man)į 4/2179/136 2270 10.2 14.1/22.8 44/170 22/26.5 109 99/77 3.2/10.7 462
Peugeot 607 2.2 HDi (auto) 4/2179/136 2350 14.5e auto 38/193 n/a 112 102/76 3.2/11.3m 487
Rover 75 2.0 CDT (auto)į 4/1951/116 2260 14.6 auto 38.5/190 22/24.5 114 100/77 3.2/11.3 475
VW Passat 2.5 TDI (auto)į V6/2496/150 2240 9.4 auto 36/216 25/14 112 101/74 2.8/10.9 470
  į performance figures from estate car version  * petrol  e estimated  m maker's figure

Comfortable seats with twin height adjusters plus lumbar control. Ergonomic, easy-to-fathom switches and big, clear dials, but some warning lights tiny. Parking vision spoilt by fixed headrests and thick pillars
Poised and dignified S80 isn't a car you want to "door handle". Even so, it exhibits reassuringly stable handling and excellent grip when hustled, aided by traction control and fluid, nicely weighted steering.
Ride is quiet and comfortable, marred only by tyre firmness on broken tarmac. Passengers pampered by comfortable, supportive seats and impressive climate control with multiple outlets. First-rate hi-fi.

Volvo's five-pot diesel is a big, swift smoothie with bags of mid-range pulling power - lovely! Emits a melodious warble when worked, but cruises quietly. Superb auto box with silky shifts makes for effortless progress.
  acceleration in seconds autoshift 4250rpm manual hold to 4250rpm
  20-40mph 3.2 3.2
  30-50mph 3.7 4.4
  40-60mph 4.3 5.1
  50-70mph 5.6 5.8
  30-70mph 9.3 10.2
  max speed in each gear (+ using autoshift/4250rpm for best acceleration)
     gear      1st+      2nd+      3rd+      4th      5th
     speed (mph)      27      42      64      105      130

Auto box clobbers diesel's consumption by some 20%, so expect about 43mpg - and lower tax - from manual. (Petrol automatic gives 28mpg or so overall.) Big, easy-filling tank means huge range between fuel stops.
    AA test results (mpg)  
    worst (hard/urban) 24  
    best (gentle/rural) 46  
    overall mpg 36  
    realistic tank capacity 62litres  
    realistic tank range 490miles  
    official figures (mpg)
    urban 25.9
    extra urban 46.3
    combined 36.2
    CO2 emissions 207g/km
    car tax band E

Exemplary result in NCAP's side-impact protection test. Curtain and side airbags complement whiplash protection and numerous life-saving features. Integrated child booster cushion optional. Excellent brakes.
  Results based on 2000 model year tested in March 2000
  from 50mph (with ABS and optional brake-assist)
front impact     69%
side impact     100%
overall     85%
overall safety rating    
pedestrian rating    
pedal load     stopping distance
unhurried 10kg     32m
sudden 16kg     25m best stop
+4kg ie 20kg     26m ABS on
fade resistance/consistency    
Euro NCAP = European New Car Assessment Programme: independent crash safety tests evaluating protection for occupants and pedestrians in an offset frontal collision, side impacts and pedestrian strike conditions
click here for more NCAP details/test results etc.

Generous accommodation for all; lots of rear kneeroom and ample width for three - centre hump, though. Rear (and front) backrests fold to supplement cavernous boot space with long load length. Ski flap, too.
  in centimetres (4-door saloon)
  length 482
  width - including mirrors 212
    - mirrors folded 190
  height 143
  load sill height (inside/outside) 11/66
  turns lock-to-lock 3.1
  turning circle (metres) 11.8
  easy to park/garage?
  front - legroom 89-111
    - headroom 92-96S
  rear - typical legroom 105
    - typical kneeroom 82
    - headroom 95
    - hiproom 138
  load area
  load space(litres/cu ft) 555/19.6
  load length 106-200
  full length to facia 287
  load width 114-130
  Load height (to shelf) 45
S with sunroof

Personal safeguards such as "home-safe" and approach lighting give after-dark reassurance; handset bulky, though. Laminated side windows available for £300. Lockable glovebox, rear backrest releases in boot.
central locking  
remote control  
remote window closing  
alarm (perimeter + interior)  
self-locking (static)   
two-stage unlocking   
attack-resistant glass   
service key   
secure rear backrests   
AA load area security rating
=standard    =option    =not available
NCSR - "theft of"
NCSR - "theft from"
NCSR = New Car Security Ratings: a 1 to 5 star system which rates anti-theft protection, both of the car itself and the theft of valuables from within the car
Visit for more details
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