Volvo S80: Luxury Redefined
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Things to look forward to:
-Industry leading safety
Things that would make you think twice:
-Small dealer network
The Volvo S80 has always been a contemporary styled luxury saloon for people who are a bit left field. It looked absolutely understated and in line with the Swede manufacturer's classic linear design theory. The new generation of Volvo cars have become more angular and modern, like the V40 Cross Country, S60, XC60 and completely new XC90. However the S80 remained sober and despite drastic changes to all the other models in the line-up, S80 remains the same gentle soul with the new facelift. This Swedish saloon is for people who give more importance to common sense than their desire to trumpet glamour.
The new Volvo S80 gets new updates inside out. Although they might look tiny, but combined they bring about more charm than you first notice.
As classic as a wood burning stove and as accurate as a surgeon's scalpel, the beauty lies in the smooth lines and perfect proportions of this Volvo. The facelift has a smoother more aerodynamic body. The front bumper is new and the grille has lots of chrome detailing on it. Actually there is plenty of pleasant chrome detailing around the entire body, not too much but just right.
The strong shoulder has faded a bit but still does feel solid. The rear is pretty much the same as before, but what a rear at that, classic and so very Volvo. As mentioned earlier it is not a pose mobile and will not get you many eye balls on the road. But that does not mean it is not attractive. Point is that it attracts the corneas of sober silent people who have graduated from poster cars to purpose-built automobiles.
The interior carries the same air of slight and sophistication from the exterior. The straight lines of the dash blend well with the wood finish on the centre console and air conditioning vents. Function overtakes form here. No shiny metal, no colourful plastics, just plain simple buttons which have been very thoughtfully laid out. All the switches and toggles are ergonomically located where they should be, except the four rotary knobs for the infotainment system and climate control.
You tend to use the wrong one while focussing on the road. The quality is very good and the built is good enough to last a decade. However, the glamour less interior theme might put of customers as the competition has quiet appealing interiors against the S80.
The S80 fights back when it comes to the seats, they are absolutely brilliant. All leather, big and plush seats are comfortable enough for considerably long journeys. The driving position is perfect, and the steering can be adjusted for all individuals. What we also like is the amount of light filtering in the cabin. It feels airy, spacious and a nice place to be in.
The cushioning on the seats is soft and chauffer driven customers will find them more appealing than most of the competition. Where the S80 lacks seriously is boot space which is frankly not appropriate considering this cars mile munching capability.
Engine and Performance (4.5/5)
The Volvo S80 is available in two engine options, a 2.0 litre turbocharged diesel, called the D4 Summum, producing 181bhp of maximum power and a peak torque of 400Nm. The one we are driving here is the D5 Summum with a 2.4 litre turbocharged diesel that pumps out 215bhp of power and a peak torque figure of 440Nm. The D4 gets an 8-speed automatic transmission whereas the D5 makes do with a 6-speed automatic. Power is delivered to the front wheels on both the variants.
What gets us all misty eyed is the missing 4.4 litre V8 from the line-up. However, must soldier on, the D5 that we drive here takes a tiny bit less than 8 seconds to touch 100kmph from a standstill and runs in the electronic buffers at 225kmph.
As you can already see the performance figures suggest that as subtle as it may be, but the S80 is no slouch. The engine sounds harsh and unrefined at lower revolutions but starts gaining a fantastic growling note when you push it hard. The engine sound filters in the cabin and Volvo should have definitely used more isolation.
The engine sounds wonderful when pushed hard, but at normal speeds when people have a conversation, it sounds like it is gargling with pebbles. Shifting can be done automatically, through a tiptronic or you can use the lovely milled steering mounted paddle shifters. Nearly a piece of art the paddle shifters are crafted of aluminium with rubber bits for grip. They are not that quick in response against the much refined rivals, but they surely get the job done correctly with the right shifts when you want them.
Ride and handling (3.5/5)
This Swede focuses more on comfort than performance for the Indian market. The ride quality is compliant and relaxed. The suspension does get hard on low speeds but gently smoothens out as speed builds up. Handling is not a forte for this car and it does not like to be hammered around corners. The gearbox is not quick enough to respond to enthusiastic demands and steering has no feel at all. No sire, it loves straight lines, and is mighty good at that, but if you want to satisfy your lust for corner carving we suggest you look elsewhere.
But before you do, remember you are shrugging your shoulders off industry leading safety. Volvo is one of the pioneers when it comes to safety technology. Features such as 2 step airbags at the front, inflatable curtains and SIPS airbags, whiplash protection, Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), etc are followed up by decades of research and development. There is even a city safety feature that applys the brakes for you when you were not looking. Accidents do happen, and sitting in the safe keeping of a Volvo is just another reason to make every drive peaceful.
The Volvo S80 is a comfortable, spacious and powerful saloon that has an interesting cabin and comfortable cruising capabilities. What is intriguing is the plethora of every safety feature in the market wrapped into one S80. Being a CBU, the S80 is actually evenly priced against its competition. But because it is a CBU, spare part availability is an issue and Volvo India still does not have enough customer touch-points in the country. The S80 is for buyers looking for an alternative than the obvious choice, but without the loss of credibility of brand name. This car is for people who like exclusivity but still do not want to show it around.