Review

Volvo S80 saloon

Price  £32,420 - £33,920

Volvo S80 saloon

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Very comfortable
  • Premium-quality cabin
  • DRIVe version is very economical
Cons
  • Dull styling
  • Limited driver appeal
  • Very poor resale values

At a glance

“The Volvo S80 is a well-equipped and extremely comfortable saloon car, but it’s due to be replaced soon and rivals are far better to drive.”

The Volvo S80 is a large saloon car that's priced to compete with mainstream family cars like the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia, as well as premium saloons like the BMW 5 Series an the Mercedes E-Class. Despite offering a beautifully designed cabin and some of the most comfortable seats available in any car, the S80 seems expensive next to the Mondeo, while rivals from BMW and Mercedes have more badge appeal and offer a more enjoyable driving experience.

Despite these reservations, the luxurious interior ambiance and comfort-focused suspension of the S80 makes it an appealing car in which to while away motorway miles. Note that it's due for replacement soon, however: the new S90 arrives in September of this year and Volvo is already taking orders.

MPG, running costs & CO2

2.8 / 5

The S80’s 2.0-litre diesel engine offers impressive fuel economy

Because it’s due for imminent replacement, the S80 is only available with a 2.0-litre diesel engine, and this returns an impressive 68.9mpg thanks in part to stop-start technology. CO2 emissions of just 108g/km of CO2 leave S80 owners liable for an annual road tax bill of just £20.

Engines, drive & performance

2.1 / 5

Feather-light controls make the car relaxing to drive

Volvo designed the S80 with comfort, rather than handling or driver involvement in mind. As a result of this the S80 is very easy to drive, with light steering and soft suspension that soaks up motorway miles with ease as you relax into the comfortable seats. The trade off for this comfort, however, is that the S80 has too much body lean in corners, while the light steering is actually too light, leading to a slightly disconnected feeling for the driver.

Performance from the 2.0-litre D4 diesel engine is reasonable rather than exciting, and its 0-62mph time of 8.4 seconds means that while it easily keeps pace with traffic, those after swifter progress should look elsewhere; the BMW 5 Series is renowned for its enjoyable driving experience, for example, while a Ford Mondeo is also more involving despite being significantly cheaper.

Interior & comfort

3.8 / 5

Soft suspension is good at soaking up bumps

Drivers of the Volvo S80 are treated to a luxurious and well-equipped interior, complete with Volvo’s trademark ‘floating’ centre console – so-called because it’s very thin and has a storage cubby behind it – although this is slightly awkward to access. The S80’s seats are as comfortable as car seats get, and the interior remains extremely hushed when cruising on the motorway.

Soft suspension means the S80 bounces slightly over more pronounced bumps, but potholes and poor road surfaces are nicely smoothed out. The D4 diesel engine, meanwhile, provides adequate power and doesn’t have to be worked too hard, adding to the relaxing driving experience.

Practicality & boot space

3.2 / 5

Expect plenty of cabin storage space

Volvo has made good use of the S80’s large size, meaning wherever your passengers sit they’ll have plenty of space to stretch out in. The boot’s 480-litre capacity lags slightly behind the BMW 5 Series’ but it’s a good shape and has a wide opening. Volvo has also put some thought into interior storage: there are plenty of cubbyholes dotted around the cabin, including a large glovebox and centre console storage bin.

Reliability & safety

3.8 / 5

The S80 majors on safety and build quality

While the S80 feels solidly built, Volvo has taken a dip in terms of reliability lately: its 19th-place finish (out of 32 manufacturers) in our 2015 Driver power customer satisfaction survey is worse than its 2014 result, while the S80 sells in too few numbers to have featured individually. Still, one of the benefits of the S80 being somewhat elderly is that any kinks in production should have been ironed out by now.

In terms of safety, the S80 hasn’t gone through Euro NCAP safety tests since 2000, but Volvo’s excellent reputation for safety should provide peace of mind. The S80 features plenty of safety technology, such as automatic braking, electronic stability control and a pedestrian-detection system, which will alert you if someone walks into the car’s path.

Price, value for money & options

1.8 / 5

Alloy wheels, climate control and electric windows are standard

In the course of winding down the S80’s production, Volvo only offers two trim levels: SE Nav and Lux. Both of these come with sat nav, leather seats, alloy wheels, climate control and electric windows as standard, while Lux model features a power-adjustable driver’s seat, as well as an upgraded dashboard trip computer.

Some may see the S80 as a luxuriously equipped prestige saloon that’s significantly cheaper than a similarly equipped BMW 5 Series or Mercedes E-Class; others may feel that Volvo’s brand appeal doesn’t quite justify the price tag and consider a Ford Mondeo to offer better value for money.

Whichever of those camps you fall into, one thing is for certain: the S80 will depreciate faster than a similar BMW or Mercedes, and that‘s more true than ever with the new S90 looming large on the horizon.

What the others say

3.1 / 5
based on 4 reviews
3 / 5
Volvo's crack at beating the Germans in the executive market has promise, but it ultimately falls short. On the plus side, the S80 is spacious, the cabin is well appointed and refinement is pretty good. It's keenly priced against the established opposition, too.
3.5 / 5
While it may not be seen as being as desirable as its German competitors, the S80 is stylish in a subtle way, and although most people would be interested in the diesel engines, there is also a range of four, five, six and eight-cylinder petrol engines.
3 / 5
As a result of the extra turbo, power is up to 202bhp from 163bhp, yet the engine is eight per cent more economical, at 45.6mpg. It's sublimely refined – only under heavy throttle is the five-cylinder warble noticeable. And the 420Nm of torque makes for an effortless drive, too.
3 / 5
Alternative to Mercedes E-Class for big, prestigious 5-seater 'private hire' operators and owners simply wanting a big, safe, solid car. Much approved.
Last updated 
18 Mar 2016
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