Review

Volvo S80 saloon

Price  £30,720 - £36,835

Volvo S80 saloon

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Excellent comfort, especially from the seats
  • Cabin quality matches premium rivals
  • DRIVe version’s fuel economy
Cons
  • Not very exciting to look at
  • Limited driver appeal
  • Resale values can’t match German rivals

At a glance

"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

2.8 / 5

1.6-litre diesel offers 62.8mpg

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

3.8 / 5

Soft suspension is good at soaking up bumps

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

3.2 / 5

Expect plenty of cabin storage 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

3.8 / 5

The S80 is big on safety and 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 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

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, 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

1.8 / 5

Alloy wheels, climate control and electric windows are standard

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.

What the others say

3.1 / 5
based on 4 reviews
  • 3.0 / 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.

  • 3.0 / 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.

  • 3.0 / 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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