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Volvo S80 2008 Review

The new V8 powered S80 has better power-to-weight ratio than the previous model.

Can you wear a cardigan and drive a V8? Volvo thinks you can, as it has slotted a bent-eight beneath the snout of the flagship S80 sedan.

The Swedish car maker has also given the sedan an all-wheel-drive system to put the outputs to ground - thankfully, given much of the range has to steer and drive through the front wheels.

The transverse 4.4-litre V8 offers 232kW and 440Nm, increases of 32kW and 60Nm over the old S80 T6 model - numbers not likely to be threaded through the front hoops without plenty of torque steer, despite any potential electronic knobbling.

Volvo says the Yamaha-developed bent-eight also offers 370Nm from 2000rpm and that flexibility is felt during open-road cruising. The new flagship has grown 28mm in length and width, 54mm in height, 6mm in front track and 25mm in rear track, as well as an extra 45mm in the wheelbase. The company is also claiming a better power-to-weight ratio than the old model, which has helped the 0-100km/h sprint drop by 0.8 of second to 6.5 seconds.

There's ample traction from the Haldex computer-controlled all-wheel-drive system, which helps the six-speed auto get the big Swede under way in a hurry.

The grip levels are never in question but the sedan can feel a little nose-heavy in tighter corners, something which could perhaps benefit from a rear-drive bias in the all-wheel-drive system, something Audi has done to some of its range.

There's not much to worry about in terms of the engine (apart from a typical V8 thirst that's a little heavier than the outgoing model) but the adaptive-suspension - which has coil-over struts at the front and a multi-link axle rear - is cause for concern.

Three suspension settings allow the driver to alter the car's driving behaviour - Volvo says the Comfort setting offers sedate, comfortable driving, with ride quality a priority.

While the Sport and Advanced settings work reasonably well, the Comfort setting leaves a lot to be desired.

The S80 in Comfort mode doesn't deal well with low-grade bumps - even misaligned manhole covers are cause for concern - and bigger undulations are dealt with in a distinctly U.S. sort of way, which equals a lumbering, roly-poly manner with just average damper control.

There's better news with the intermediate Sport setting and Advanced mode for serious cornering. Sport gives better damping control and is preferred for general driving, despite increased stiffness.

Body roll is well controlled in either mode and the S80 tracks well, with only major mid-corner bumps unsettling the car from its intended line.

The new car is leaner in pricing, wearing a $95,950 price tag, down from $98,950, and the equipment list hasn't suffered.

There are rain-sensing wipers, an A-Grade DynAudio sound system with surround sound, dual-zone climate control and a trip computer.

The headlights are adaptive xenon units but there's no automatic function for them, something I would have expected on a $90,000-plus machine. The integrated GSM phone is also disappointing, given the expansion in Bluetooth availability.

Safety features are plentiful - as you'd expect from this brand - with front, side and curtain airbags and stability control among the features combining to deliver a strong safety package.

The cabin has been trimmed with quality materials and has a solid, quiet and soothing atmosphere, with the built-in child seat in the centre a clever feature.

If you're not a fan of German prestige sedans and are looking for something different, then the big Swede might well be for you - a delicious V8 and a comfortable interior tops the list, but a firm ride will also need to be on your wish list.



Volvo S80 AWD V8

Price: $95,950

Engine: 4.4-litre 32-valve DOHC V8.

Transmission: Six-speed auto, all-wheel drive.

Power: 232kW at 5950rpm.

Torque: 440Nm at 3950rpm.

Performance: 0-100km/h 6.5 seconds, top speed 250km/h.

Fuel consumption: Claimed 11.9 litres/100km, on test 15.4 litres/100km. Tank 70 litres.

Emissions: 284g/km.

Suspension: Independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs (front). Independent, multiple links, sub-frame mounted, coil springs (rear).

Brakes: Four-wheel discs, front ventilated, with anti-lock, electronic brake distribution and electronic brake assistance.

Dimensions: Length 4851mm, width 1876mm, height 1490mm, wheelbase 2835mm, track fr/rr 1578/1575mm, cargo volume 422 litres, weight 1742kg.

Wheels: 18in alloys.


In its class

Audi A6 3.2 FSI: $99,800

BMW 525i: $94,700

Mercedes-Benz E280: $101,300

Saab 9-5 Aero: $82,900


Pricing guides

Based on third party pricing data
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Range and Specs

3.2 AWD 3.2L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $7,700 – 11,880 2008 Volvo S80 2008 3.2 AWD Pricing and Specs
D5 2.4L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $7,200 – 11,220 2008 Volvo S80 2008 D5 Pricing and Specs
T6 AWD 3.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $8,000 – 12,320 2008 Volvo S80 2008 T6 AWD Pricing and Specs
V8 AWD 4.4L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $10,100 – 15,290 2008 Volvo S80 2008 V8 AWD Pricing and Specs
Stuart Martin
Contributing Journalist


Pricing Guide


Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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