Jan 16 2010 Patrick James
Volvo S80 D5 SE Lux Premium
TAKING a big premium saloon on a European adventure, might not seem the best idea in the world, given the rocketing price of fuel. But the latest incarnation of Volvo's flagship S80 proved a pleasant surprise.
This luxury cruiser was the mode of transport for a week of continental driving and a proper test of manufacturer claims against the realities of a 1,000 mile round trip.
The S80 has been revamped with a lower chassis for better driving characteristics and has also seen two new diesel variations added to the range. The two variants of the 2.4 litre, five cylinder turbo diesel units on the S80 develop 175PS and 205PS respectively, which is a lot of power, therefore theoretically making it a gas guzzler.
Nothing could have been further from the truth. The big Volvo is certainly powerful and it was able to put a smile on my face and keep plenty of euros in the wallet with a superb display of fuel economy.
From a full fuel tank, I had completed 530 miles before reluctantly pulling in to a Belgian station for refuelling - and even then the onboard computer was showing a range of 70 miles with average mpg of 44mpg, better than the official figure. Carbon dioxide emissions are also low at 164g/km, putting into the 23 per cent company car bracket.
Given that the majority of the driving was on motorways and on unrestricted motorways in Germany, it was a perfect demonstration of just how economical the car was.
If Volvo has got it right with the engines, the rest of the car stand up to scrutiny pretty well too. Long gone are the bulky tank-like looks of the Swedish icon. They have been replaced by sleek and sporty styling that features neat light clusters with a revamped front end. It has a powerful and even athletic look not normally associated with big premium saloons.
The interior is also excellent, featuring high-quality fixtures and fittings, and leather interior. It features the bridge-style console seen on other Volvos and a simple, but effective and uncluttered dashboard and dial layout.
As you would expect with a car of this price, standards goodies are extensive and the sat nav, after a taking a while to work out, proved on the best I have used, particularly when navigating big European cities.
The improved ride from the lower body is evident and the car feels comfortable and stable even on the roughest or roads and feel stable and composed when cornering. The steering could do with more feedback, but otherwise, the car is excellent to drive. Wind, engine and road noise are all but absent, which is a boon on long motorway journeys.
The quality leather seats are particularly comfortable and five adults can be seated in comfort, however the boot is slightly disappointing at 422 litres. This can be improved by folding the rear seats, but is far from class-leading.
On the road the 2.4-litre engine proved quick as well as economical. The 0-60mph sprint takes just 8.5 seconds while the car is capable of a top speed of 143mph. Something I did not try to achieve, even on the German motorway network.
Volvo is also synonymous with safety and the S80 features a comprehensive list of safety equipment, which includes driver, passenger and side airbags, plus stability programmes and traction control.
Not a cheap car at nearly £32,000, but it is well equipped and offers performance with economy and a low company car tax rating. Definitely an attractive proposition.
Volvo S80 D5 SE Lux Premium
Mechanical: 205bhp, 2,400cc, 5cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via six-speed manual gearbox
Max speed: 143mph
0-62mph: 7.5 seconds
Combined mpg: 42.2
Insurance group: 16
CO2 emissions: 164/km
BiK rating: 23%
Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles