UK CAR Reviews: Volvo S80 T6 Twin Turbo
2000

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Interior  Exterior

The Terminator

First there was the rough and ready, but extraordinarily powerful T1 followed by the faster more sophisticated T2 machines that threatened the existence of mankind.

Then there was the rough and ready, but extraordinarily powerful T5 followed by the faster more sophisticated T6 they threaten mankind's perception of Volvo machinery.

The T5 was one of the most entertaining cars I have ever driven, so the updated, up rated T6 should blow away any lingering Volvo conceptions.

                   

They were Boxy, but they were good. Well they are not Boxy anymore, but are they still good.

This is a big, very big car. That is just what you would expect of a saloon treading in the Jaguar, BMW 7, Mercedes markets. Nevertheless, it is not a bad looking Beast.

 

Volvo has integrated curves into their mobile safety cell pretty well. It is not though a pretty car, like a Jaguar, but it has a real presence when parked up. Overall it shapes up fairly tastefully. Though there is just a hint of Americana glamour to it which may just reflect Volvos current owners and a drive for market share stateside. Overall it looks muscular rather than lithe.

It is hard to actually look at the exterior detailing as you are just overwhelmed by its size. Thankfully it comes in decent shades of paint, so there should be none of those throwback beige paint jobs and the like to assault our eyes.

Big fat Tyres on big wide alloys are the only real visual clue to the beast under the bonnet.

Inside is a feast of dead cowhide, and high quality recycled fossilised things (plastic) highlighted with that Aluminium styling detail that is currently in vogue? Touch it, go on, its cold, yes it actually real Aluminium, not some cheap but stylish imitation. If this car gets dirty you do not need a Valet; you need the staff of Buckingham palace to buff it up.

Notice the built in child seat in rear and further storage for small families in the front arm rest

Volvo have done a good job of hiding some off the ugly outer bits like the headlamp washer which pop up and down under pressure, Aerodynamic maybe but I doubt it, svelte looking definitely

 

 

Its actually easier to list what it has not got than what it has.

Fridge

Shower

Kitchen Sink

Electric Seats.

All of them I can live without, though the lack of finger powered seat adjustment seems churlish, when you consider what it has got.

This is a car that just 3 years ago walked out of the show room with some 8K of extras and an approximate 47k price tag.

Most expensive car I have ever driven, NO!

Most well equipped, YES!!!!!

Just to see what you are getting take a look behind the hidden panel in the boot and small scale model of GCHQ hidden in there.

Settling into the leather Sofa that makes up the pilots seat, you can survey the ergonomic dash and control layout. It all looks simple and straightforward, as it should. But then you are ignoring the raft of buttons that adorn the Steering wheel. Grasp it and let your finger rummage around the rear and what is that you find has some one glued a play station controller to the back? Nope its just the SAT NAV function controller.

Turn the ignition on and out of the dash climbs a LCD screen whilst your not in gear it’s a TV probably by default tuned to BBC2 to suit all you cardigan wearing Volvo buyers (Ha Ha).

Adjusting the Air-con takes seconds, adjust it to off and set internal temperature at MAX as the engine idles silently. It is Mid winter so the large sunroof can stay shut for now, but its there for when the sun shines. The Holiday program on the TV reminds you of how cold and miserable it is outside, so you flick on the heated seats. With a couple more sensors you could probably match the temperature of your rear to the sweat trickling down your brow. The again its cold sweat so maybe not such a good idea.

Slip it into gear and it assumes Sat Nav mode and homes in to give me a map of my street and shows me where my local garage is, most helpful. It includes integrated traffic warnings and if there is a stealth button to show the placement of speed cameras I would be laughing all the way to the redline.

Ignore that and tune in the truly fantastic Bombastic stereo and as the bass bounces the car gently to the beat, engage gear and wait for lift off.

 

 

Press the accelerator gently half expecting an explosion of wheel spin and the big car ever so gently creeps away.

The last T Volvo in my hand was a manual box; this one features a Tiptronic Auto topped by a silver knob and sided by mode buttons. It is a lovely Auto Box as Auto boxes go, but it does seem to have an effect on the engines perceived delivery, it seems to prefer to keep you cosseted away from the roaring power slips silently and smoothly around ratios to keep the acceleration performance seemingly linear. With all the power available it is probably best that it need a deliberate bit of persuasion to unleash the power via the kick down. But then that is what the Tip in the Tronic is for. If your really in the mood you can grasp the lovely shaped Tiptronic joystick and fiddle to your hearts content.

What a lot of power it makes, take a peak under the bonnet and be greeted by the strange sight of a crossways six topped with serpentine Twin Turbo pipes. Allegedly Volvo had to create the world narrowest Auto box to fit into this configuration. Unlike many engines, it lacks plastic covers and you can actually see it, though it does not look any less complicated or accessible to the twidlers spanner. So like all modern cars it professional wrench monkeys only for anything other than topping up the washer reservoirs.

Over 270bhp is not to be sniffed at but the delivery is what makes it special, small impellers get up to speed quickly and give the engine Turbo pull from low revs. Sure there is a power band but its fairly discreet and barely noticeable when you are not in it.

Performance when pushed is mind blowing, well Volvo drivers mind blowing anyway. Illegal speed flash up in the blink of an eye, and the effort you have to put in to get there is virtually nil. 4000rpm is enough to see off just about anything vaguely run of the mill, and you still have another 2000rpm to spare, for that special occasion.

I don’t know what the bare figures are , but be sure enough, by the time the boys have had a quick giggle at the nerd in the car with the Volvo badge, it will be long gone down the road.

Cosseted inside your hardest job will be clock watching and Sat Nav decoding, and by the time they pull up next to you at the next red light, you will have engaged park and be watching Beeb 2 again.

Testing did take place though on bone dry roads, quite what rain would add to the mix I did not want to contemplate first time out. Perhaps it would be best if perspective owner bought theirs in summer and aquatint themselves before it starts to rain.

 

The T5 had lots of power in an ageing chassis and the T6 tries to address these problem. Volvo has engineered lots of the problems away, making the T6 very easy to drive. However, they seem to have engineered out any driver interaction at the same time. The light steering displays little feedback except when the fat tyres take part in a little tramlining. I guess this makes it fairly politically correct in the automotive unfriendly current climate. But it makes the car a good bit less exciting to drive than the T5.

In term of outright grip various technical gadgets will help you negotiate most things other than those entered at truly insane speeds (all to easy to achieve). It does feel a little tippy toed at first but settles when its actually in the bends.

The T5 seemed to have a bit too much power the T6 seems to have barely enough to stress the chassis.

The reality is the T6 is probably faster, smoother, quicker everywhere it just does not feel it.

The ride is good with very little of the road surface making its way through to the driver. Body roll which can be as disconcerting as bumps is fairly well kept in check unless you press really hard through the bends.

Still the major downside it the lack of any feeling of connection between driver and road, via the steering wheel, if it let go would you be sure you can catch it. The Volvo is not alone in the modern trait of removing the driver from the act of driving so we should not really be too harsh. 

And anyway compared to the luggage box wanna be transits of old its a million miles ahead. 

 

It is a Volvo so safety should be a given as Volvo have majored on that point for 40 years. Whether it has any tricks left to play after all the other Marques have followed suit is debatable. Probably the only real way to make it safer is to chop off a hundred horses from the engine.

Air bags, crumple zones, impact bars, pre-tension belts anti submarine seats abound, If you wipe yourself out in this you were probably spending too much time with the Tele and missed the oncoming Scania Truck.

Deadlocks, Alarm, Remote Central locking and all those things which are standard on expensive cars help to keep it secure. However, the Volvo badge probably does more than any of these to put Joy riders off.

ABS assisted disks all round bring the fun to a quick secure conclusion. The Brakes are very light to use without being overly grabby, like say an A4 or a Citroen. Thankfully it wasn’t also like some other cars where the ABS seems to cut in straight away taking the feel away from the pedal. As it was I never found the need to test the ABS functionality anyway.

 

For general driving it purrs around quite beautifully. Though every other version probably does so too. It is quiet and easy to drive with only the rumble of the wide tyres to keep you company should you tire of the stereo.

This is really a waste of its potential. Whether we need cars with quite so much potential in Britain is another question, and frankly a discussion I would rather not start.

It is a big saloon and of course it has all the space of a big saloon. The boot is cavern like inside despite the electrical gizmos and spare tyre and it even has a low lip to aid loading.

Okay I admit it despite the digs in the above paragraphs I do actually own a Volvo. And I admire them for their strength of build, space and longevity.

That does not mean I love all Volvos. Frankly they are big, good transport, excellent load carriers and fairly innocuous so not attract too much unwarranted attention. Which is just what I need.

What I do not need is some glitzy glamour puss and 47k worth of worry on my doorstep. Do I really need a car better equipped than my living room, with Air Conditioning TV, CD (Stacker) leather reclining Sofas and on and on probably not.

That is not to say I would not like a fully equipped, hugely powerful motor of my own if I could stretch to it. However, at new prices I would probably be looking at Jaguars and the like. But and it’s a big but, this one was going for under TEN GRAND and for that it is an awful lot of car with very few criticisms that can be levelled at it and would merit much more serious thought.

Does this come in an Estate version? Slightly less flash colours and de-badged, now that may be something worth looking at. Stick in a Fridge, a Barbecue in the back and you could probably live in it, after all its half the price and twice the size of a starter home, and I can park in all the best des-res areas.

For the record the regular pilot was achieving 24mpg on mixed environment running, which does not sound to bad considering the size, power, urban traffic and the speed he drives at.

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