Review

Volvo S80 saloon

Price  £30,720 - £36,835

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 offers lots of equipment for the money, as well as being very comfortable, but it's not exciting to drive."

The Volvo S80 is a large saloon car that occupies a niche somewhere between mainstream family saloons like the Ford Mondeo or Vauxhall Insignia and premium executive models such as the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class or Jaguar XF. It can't match the badge appeal or stylish looks of its executive rivals, but you can't fault it for interior quality, space and comfort. Higher-specification cars are truly luxurious and the S80 also has one of the most comfortable driver's seats of any car we've tested. 

MPG, running costs & CO2

2.8 / 5

1.6-litre diesel returns 62.8mpg economy

The diesel models in the range have low running costs, but the petrol models will cost a packet to keep on the road. The 4.4-litre V8 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 around 53mpg. The 1.6-litre diesel engine in the DRIVe model offers the best fuel economy – around 62mpg – but it can struggle to move the big S80 at a decent pace.

Engines, drive & performance

2.1 / 5

Feather-light controls make the car relaxing to drive

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, while the steering, pedals and gearshift are all extremely light and easy to use. If anything, the steering is too light and it sometimes feels as though the wheels are turning too quickly. It doesn't help that the soft suspension setup allows quite a lot of body lean in corners. But even though the big Volvo doesn't excel on twisty roads, it's an excellent motorway cruiser. 

Interior & comfort

3.8 / 5

Soft suspension is good at soaking up bumps

The soft suspension compromises the S80's cornering ability, but it does make this a very comfortable car. It soaks up the jolts from potholes and rough road surfaces with ease, although the occupants can get bounced around a bit in the process. The diesel engines are smooth and quiet, too, although the more powerful D3 and D5 models are more relaxing because they don’t have to be worked as hard to get decent performance. The same can't be said for the 1.6-litre diesel engine in the economical DRIVe version, which can struggle with a fully loaded car or a steep hill.

Practicality & boot space

3.2 / 5

Expect plenty of cabin storage space

The Volvo S80 is a large and very 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 luggage space and is a good, square shape with a wide opening – so loading it up will be easy. There's a large central storage box between the front seats and the glove compartment is spacious, too. Plus, there's also a cubbyhole behind the centre console.

Reliability & safety

3.8 / 5

The S80 majors on safety and build quality

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 uses decent-quality materials. The S80 hasn't been crash-tested by Euro NCAP since 2000, but Volvo has a superb reputation for safety. The car is packed with safety kit, such as automatic braking to avoid low-speed collisions and pedestrian detection to warn the driver if a person steps out in the road.

Price, value for money & options

1.8 / 5

Alloy wheels, climate control and electric windows are standard

Even the entry-level S80 is well equipped, with alloy wheels, climate control and electric windows as standard. You'll need to go for at least SE specification to get leather seats, though. Whether the S80 represents good value or not is largely a matter of perception: you either see it as a cut-price prestige car or as an overpriced family saloon. But either way, it won't hold on to its value nearly as well as its German rivals do.

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 
1 Nov 2013

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