Volvo is well known to us for its driving pleasure. Even our personal Volvo 850 station wagon with its well sounding “classic” 2,5 litre 5 cylinder petrol engine never fails to bring a smile on our lips whenever we take the wheel. Even after some 17 years, it still drives beautifully, and has lost none of its appeal.
In keeping with the good tradition, the Volvo engineers have maintained these standards of true driving pleasure to a very high level down to their latest models. The responsiveness of engine, chassis, brakes, the handling, the seating position, the ergonomy and “feel” of the controls, it is so pleasing and typical “Volvo”. One of the classics in the range, the S80, stays also forever young, certainly with its all new, very frugal 1,6 litre Diesel engine, which we test for you here.
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Sliding behind the wheel of this fine saloon, one is immediately seduced by the pleasant “ambiance” of quality leather, the lay-out of the face-lifted dashboard, the newly shaped leather covered steering wheel, the airy design of the central “floating” console. We also the liked the new design and shape of the large round dials.
Starting up the new engine, it brought us the familiar Volvo sound, but very subdued and civilised, and, most important of all, without any vibrations. We chose the “E”mode right away, which did not impair the pulling power of the engine in the least.
Subjectively, one has the impression that a powerful 2 litre engine is under the bonnet, which is very logical when one considers the 270 Nm torque of the engine, available between 1700 and 2500 rpm. The engine will indeed pull nicely from around 1500 rpm onwards, and will develop considerable urge when accelerating up to some 3000 rpm through the gears. The gearbox is smooth and precise, and is a joy to use. As said, the car responds beautifully to spirited driving on winding roads.
But this is not the only exercise where the Volvo excels. Cruising on the motorway in sixth gear is also where the Volvo truly feels at home. Utterly silent and vibrationless, this limousine eats the kilometres effortlessly, cosseting driver and its passenger in luxury. We also liked here very much the Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) – see below.
Volvo went to great efforts to solving the kinetic and energetic challenges when accelerating and stopping a large car in dense traffic. The DRIVe S80 features advanced Start/Stop technology and brake energy regeneration. As soon as you brake or release the accelerator while a gear is engaged, the alternator harnesses the car’s kinetic energy and feeds it into the battery to reduce fuel consumption by an extra 2–3%. When you accelerate, the alternator decouples to free the engine for maximum performance when you need it.
With sufficient performance
The all-new engine, made completely of aluminium, features common-rail direct injection, high-precision Piezo injectors and variable turbine geometry. During the test, consumption remained well within the 5 to 6 litre per 100 km range. The factory mentions 4,5 litre per 100 km, and indeed, it took little effort to achieve a figure below 5 litres.
The Volvo S80 is no sluggard with this engine. The performance figures amply show this: top speed is a good 190 km/h, acceleration from 0 to 100 km is absolved in 11,5 seconds.
Build quality and ergonomy
We again liked the excellent finish of the car, the choice and quality of the materials and the well-studied ergonomy of all the controls and the excellent seating position. The S80 is already quite a few years amongst us, but has lost none of its appeal.
The facelift has given the car even more character, the grille's larger iron mark and the new brightwork (on the air intakes, the doors' lower parts and below the tail lamps) enhance the car's distinctive impression and give the front added presence. New exterior features in Model Year 2012 are the redesigned headlamp and LED turn indicators integrated into the door mirrors.
It should also be remembered that the Cd remains very good wih a value of 0,29.
Volvo remains very safety conscious, as we all know. DSTC (Dynamic Stability and Traction Control) is standard. This is a stability-enhancing system that when necessary reduces engine torque and applies carefully calculated braking power to reduce the risk of a skid.
We just mention that Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake is now also available in the Volvo S80. It is a support function designed to help the driver detect dangerous situations and it can actively help avoid the nightmare scenario of hitting a pedestrian.
The technology uses radar and a camera to monitor pedestrians in front of the car. The system initially provides a warning to alert the driver so he or she can brake or steer clear of the pedestrian. If the driver does not respond, the car automatically brakes with full force moments before the collision becomes unavoidable. With automatic braking, collisions can in certain circumstances be avoided at speeds below 35 km/h.
City Safety as standard
One other new feature is that City Safety is standard. This system can lessen the severity of or entirely avoid low-speed rear-end collisions at speeds of up to 30km/h. City Safety keeps a watch on vehicles in front with the help of a laser sensor built into the windscreen at the height of the rear-view mirror.
All the dials and controls are logical, easy to read and to use...
The car automatically brakes if the driver does not respond in time when the car in front slows down or stops - of if the driver is driving too fast towards a stationary object. If the relative speed difference between the two vehicles is less than 15 km/h, the collision can be entirely avoided. If the speed difference is between 15-30 km/h, the speed of impact is reduced to minimise the effects of the collision.
But there are other safety features, and we mention here some of them.
Driver Alert Control (DAC)
Driver Alert Control alerts the driver when his or her concentration level is affected, for instance during long journeys. Driver Alert Control monitors the car's movements and assesses whether the vehicle is being driven in a controlled or uncontrolled way.
Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
Lane Departure Warning is activated via a button in the centre stack and it alerts the driver with a gentle warning sound if the car crosses one of the road markings without an obvious reason such as use of the turn indicator.
BLIS and IDIS for better control
The Volvo S80 is also equipped with BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) and IDIS (Intelligent Driver Information System), two innovations that help the driver maintain better control over the traffic situation. BLIS registers if another vehicle is in the offset rear blind spot alongside the car and alerts the driver via a visual signal. IDIS helps stop the driver being distracted by non-essential information in pressing situations, for instance by delaying incoming phone calls or text messages.
Adaptive cruise control
Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) continuously monitors the gap to the vehicles in front and automatically adjusts the car's speed to ensure that this gap does not shrink too much. The latest version operates all the way down to standstill. The car accelerates automatically once the traffic starts moving again.
To sum it all up, the car impressed us very much, and shows that Volvo has everything it takes to build outstanding cars with a very distinct personality. That this Volvo is very frugal on top of all that, makes the car even more desirable…
Hans Knol ten Bensel