"The Volvo S80 offers lots of prestige for the money, and is very comfortable, but it lacks driving excitement."
The Volvo S80 is a large saloon car that occupies a niche somewhere between mass-market, mainstream family cars like the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia and premium executive models like the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class and Jaguar XF. It can’t match the badge-appeal or stylish looks of its executive rivals. But you can’t fault it for quality, space and comfort. Higher specification cars are truly luxurious and the S80 also has one of the most comfortable driver's seats you’ll ever sit in.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
The diesel models in the range offer decent running costs, but the petrol models do not. The 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine is the worst of the bunch, returning a mere 23.3mpg. The D3 and D5 diesel models offer the best balance of power and economy and will return 53.3mpg. The 1.6-litre diesel engine in the DRIVe model offers the best economy – 62.8mpg – but it comes with fairly compromised performance.
Interior & comfort
The soft suspension may compromise the S80's cornering ability, but it does make it a very comfortable car. It will soak up the jolts from potholes and rough road surfaces with ease – although it can lead to occupants getting bounced around a bit. The diesel engines are quite smooth and quiet, too, although the more powerful D3 and D5 engines are more relaxing because they don’t have to be strained as much to get decent performance out of them. The same can’t be said for the 1.6-litre engine in the economical DRIVe version.
Practicality & boot space
The Volvo S80 is a large and spacious car – passengers of any size will be able to sit in comfort for even the longest of journeys. The boot offers a decent 422 litres of space and is a good, square shape with a wide opening – so loading it up should prove stress free. There is a large central storage box between the front seats, and the glove compartment is spacious, too. And there's also a cubbyhole behind the centre console.
Reliability & safety
The S80 has been subject to several recalls for a range of mechanical and electrical faults. But Volvo as a brand has a decent reputation for reliability and the cabin feels well put together and of a decent quality. The S80 hasn’t been crash tested by Euro NCAP since 2000 – but Volvo has a superb reputation for safety. And the S80 comes packed with safety kit like City Safety, Collision Warning with Auto Brake and Pedestrian Detection – systems which detect potential collisions and brake the car before they can happen.
Engines, drive & performance
The S80 is a car that's built for comfort, not driving thrills. It's easy to find a good driving position, the engines provide adequate power but are never overly keen, and the steering, pedals and gearshift are all extremely light and easy to use. If anything, the steering wheel is too light and it sometimes feels as though the wheels are turning too quickly. It doesn’t help that the soft suspension setup leads to quite a lot of body roll, where the car seems to lean in corners. But even though it doesn’t excel on twisty roads, it's a fair motorway cruiser.
Price, value for money & options
Even entry-level S80s come well equipped, with alloy wheels, climate control and electric windows as standard. You’ll need to opt for at least SE specification to get leather seats, though. The value for money on offer is largely a matter of perception: you can see it as a cut-price prestige car offering great value; or as an overpriced family car. However, you see it, it won’t hold on to its value as well as its German rivals.