Safe, secure yet stylish, ‘The Diplomat’ took Volvo’s revamped executive class saloon S80 for a spin
The all new S80 is about evolutionary design, according to Steve Mattin, Volvo Cars design director.
And this change, rather than a revolution, describes best the retouching of the new limousine from the Swedish brand.
I took this car for a ride on a weekend across Bucharest to see how much attention it attracts on the road.
Mainly the connoisseurs turned their heads as I was driving by, as others probably see this vehicle as a facelift instead of the all-new car it actually is.
Some others will say it is very similar to its little brother, the new S40, due to the soft curves and arches which make the design of the two models very similar.
But compared to the old S80, if you put the two cars together, you will notice the immense changes and how much it has evolved. On the outside and inside.
She’s got the look
The overall impression looking at the car is that of assuring safety, without falling into the category of boxy cars that remain secure, but are about as aerodynamic as a truck. It has curvy lines and a roof line which looks almost like a coupe. Looking to the front of the car, from the headlights to the grille and bumper assemblies, one can notice the attention that the design team at Volvo has put into giving this model a dynamic look.
As an executive class saloon which targets clients of a certain social status, the designers have succeded in making the S80 a very credible alternative to the German manufacturers.
Using its perception as a very well constructed, reliable and safe car, Volvo has to always live up to this expectation. The 2006 S80 is better packaged than its predecessor and with a far superior finish.
Still lots of space
The inside of the car is at a first glance very spacious - again a feature for which Volvo is widely recognised. The model we test drove was well equipped with leather trim interior and wood finish on the dash board and doors.
The seats are among the most comfortable you will find in any car, with multiple adjustment options and memory settings. Rear passengers will also feel spoiled, as the head and legroom is more than enough for those who prefer to enjoy their ride from the back seat.
The interior has a different intrepretation and design goals than many of the S80s’ direct rivals. The interior creates a simple yet stylish feeling with modern touches like the central console with a unique design feature, and quality materials which blend well together to create a feeling of luxury.
Safe as ever
Safety is top priority for Volvo, as you would expect, so the car is packed with security features that could save your life without you even knowing it.
Technology for the S80 includes a unique Personal Car Communicator which features intelligent technology to remotely check if the car is locked, alert you if the alarm has been activated, a heartbeat sensor which warns if there is anyone in the car and new active safety systems like collision warning and brake support with adaptive cruise control, active Bi-Xenon headlights and a patented body structure developed at the Volvo Safety Centre.
The S80 includes options such as ‘keyless drive’ and another interesting technology like the Collision Warning system which alerts the driver, via a ‘heads-up’ display on the windscreen. All this plus a buzzer that sounds if the gap to the car in front closes so fast that a collision could be likely. Meanwhile the Brake Support system strengthens the braking force to ensure braking is as effective as possible.
The S80’s ride is soft. But I see this as a quality in a limousine, as its main purpose is to get you from A to B in comfort. Body-roll is well controlled and the ESP will correct the mistakes of a careless driver. The car has plenty of grip and the steering does provide a good level of feedback from the road.
Engine choices include four petrol engines and two diesel with an excellent D5 turbo-diesel with 185 horsepower.
The D5 was the test drive car, equipped with automatic transmission with a manual option called geartronic.
None of the engine choices create the feeling that the car is under-powered, from the 163 hp diesel engine to the 315 hp petrol V8, all of the engines provide plenty of overtaking power.
Prices range from 30,900 Euro without taxes for the smaller diesel version to 57,459 Euro plus taxes for those who want to enjoy the full power of the V8.
Overall, this car keeps alive the Volvo flagship offering more than its predecessor in a very modern and stylish manner without compromising the traditional values that someone anticipates in such a brand.