UK Car Road Test

Volvo S80 2.4 SE 2001

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Volvo S80 SE 2.4 ltr 20 Valve 2002.

This beast was introduced to the Volvo range back in 1999. It is only available in saloon 4 door guise. Engine varieties are from the 2.0 Turbo through to the 2.9 and T6 in the petrol range and the 2.5 Diesel.

When I originally saw this car I thought like many others it was brute ugly. I must now admit it has grown on me and I now find it's shape quite acceptable. Might even admit to liking it next year.

An S80 with a Ford Mondeo parked behind it.

Even at 1/72 it still looks huge.

As appearances go this car is overwhelmingly large. That's the first and biggest impression, the body length and width is monstrous. Even the chrome grill extends forwards more than most bumpers from the bonnet. This particular cars colour was lovely combining the subtle use of matt black bumper covers and stark contrasting silver multi spoke alloy wheels. Headlamp wash wipe is standard on this model and is very effective but not really required in the UK.

Inside the car the finishing and general quality is foremost. OK, Volvo is trying hard to shake off it's old man's image and here is a car which typifies what the marketing team are trying to loose. It is very grand and very 'Volvo'. I can say that as a definition, apart from Saab cars Volvo is one of the few others in its larger class of cars carries its heritage. that is what makes this car a Volvo through and through. And a very good one at that.


The leather seating is standard on the SE versions. The stitching is excellent in quality and the leather is indeed leather. Some modern marques quote leather when its plastic. Ahem "Mercedes". the whole thing in this cars interior is understated and effective. Volvo also use aluminium finishing to the door panels and the dash. Far more tasteful than some fake teak.

 

I'm not so sure about the American style indicators or the grill the rest has aged very well and is now I think as grand as the car itself.

 

Standard equipment in this Volvo S80 is outstanding. the electric windows are nicely placed on the drivers door panel for easy access and simple operation. the electric mirrors are operated by a small but effective switch on the same control panel. this effectively de clutters the dash. Which is somewhat necessary as there are  so many features. The heated seats have technically three setting off, and on with 50% and 100% cooking temperatures. I'm not sure what temperature they adjust up to It feels high enough to tan your bottom when the setting is high.

 

 

Comfort Features
Adjustable Steering Column
Adjustable Steering Column
Centre Arm Rest Front
Centre Arm Rest Front
Centre Arm Rest Rear
Centre Arm Rest Rear
Cup holders
Cup holders
Drivers seat Lumbar Support
Drivers seat Lumbar Support
Front Door Bins
Front Door Bins
Head Rests (front & rear)
Head Rests (front & rear)
Height Adjustable Drivers Seat
Height Adjustable Drivers Seat
Height Adjustable Seat Belts
Height Adjustable Seat Belts
Pollen Filter
Pollen Filter
Split rear seats
Split rear seats
Time Clock
Time Clock
General Features
Chrome Grille
Chrome Grille
Colour Coded Bumpers
Colour Coded Bumpers
Colour Coded Mirrors
Colour Coded Mirrors
Digital Odometer
Digital Odometer
Exterior Side Mouldings
Exterior Side Mouldings
Heated Rear Window
Heated Rear Window
Tinted Windows
Tinted Windows
Luxury Features
Air Conditioning
Air Conditioning
Cigarette Lighter
Cigarette Lighter
Climate Control
Climate Control
Cruise Control
Cruise Control
Electric Mirrors
Electric Mirrors
Electric Windows (front & rear)
Electric Windows (front & rear)
Heated Mirrors
Heated Mirrors
Illuminated Passenger Vanity Mirror
Illuminated Passenger Vanity Mirror
Leather Steering Wheel
Leather Steering Wheel
Leather Upholstery
Leather Upholstery
Radio Cass Remote
Radio Cass Remote
Radio Cassette
Radio Cassette
Trip Counter
Trip Counter
Safety

Cruise control is situated on the steering wheel itself and could not be more simple. It works very smoothly and accurately. having plenty of power to drive the car up-hill and a big engine to slow itself down when descending. the climate control has dual settings in the front allowing at least to a point each front persons the ability to control the temperature of the air blowing into them. 

Volvos have day lights working when the ignition is turned on so the light switch is not really needed other than to illuminate the dash at night.. Even the front and rear fog lamps operate without having to turn on the headlamps first. One feature which amuses me with modern cars are the cup holders. the S80 must be credited with having more than one design. Why side by side though? how many cups do you require to be held? For a modern car the Volvo has all that most others have, what it has more of is the taste in which it presents the features. the dash is very simple the air con does not have LED indicators or fancy lighting, just a temperature guide. Even the stereo looks a little dated, it does however surpass its appearance with notefull clarity.

 

 

Probably the only flaw with this car is its drive-train. Yep front wheel drive. The engine is a fabulous five cylinder unit with twin camshafts pushing 20 Valves to produce a peak bhp of 170. Turn the cars key and there is a little mid range sounding grunt from the exhaust as this car starts which is delivered to the driver very subtly. Of course when driven this grunt tends to be tastefully subdued and overtaken with the tyre and road noises. that is until you floor the gas and rev up the engine. the grunt then comes back with real intent and vocal harmony. Most five cylinder engines do tend to have a certain pitch similar to V6 units. If there was a musical competition the five would win.

DIY servicing then?

Or just check this occasionally.

This 2.4 engine is very similar to the 2.0 used in the S60 but without the turbo-charger. It is a large unit and is almost half the length of the engine bay itself. It is however lightweight being manufactured of mainly alloy composite. the fuel system is totally controlled for optimism and does give  this huge car many miles per expensive gallon of fuel. Greatly appreciated. The power output is also extremely constant developing bhp in line with rpm. No flat spots and no almighty surges. Just smooth from idle speed to red line.

The gearbox on this car was a manual 5 speed. Synchromeshed gears and lightweight, Well as lightweight as it could be considering the HGV it pulls around. The shift is very light for the size and the selection of all gears irrespective of speed is easy. Reflecting the build quality which is once more outstanding. Driving the Volvo around the town is suprisingly easy. The clutch is lighter than many small hatchbacks combined with the quality gearbox and very refined engine the whole task of daily commuting is made quite effortless. Take this monster onto a small country lane and drive hard then it will impress more. You would be forgiven to think that a car so big should be slow and not sporty. You would be very wrong. Considering it's size this car will keenly rev up and speed on through the gears and be as quick to spin its engine extremely fast as a cartwheel firework on a barn door. With the advantage that this engine will not burn out. Like older Volvos it just keeps on running and running.  I cannot really criticized the drive system ultimately I know if the rear wheels received the power then it could be better than it is. That is a fairly unjust statement though as I cannot help thinking that the difference between front and rear wheel drive is now very negligible and undetectable for the majority of drivers. We don't push cars like track drivers and we don't attempt to drift around roundabouts in car of this class. Furthermore with most modern cars having traction control to stem the hormones in the most aggressive of us, there is little between the wheels which supply the power to the tarmac.

 

Service Interval Insurance Group Safety Rating Smog Rating
12000 16 Band (D)
Engine BHP CC Fuel Inj.
5 Cylinder 20 Valve DOHC 170 2435 Yes
Cyl Camshafts Valves/cyl Compressor
5 Double 4 None
Top Speed 0 to 60 BHP per Tonne
136mph 9seconds 116
MPG@Urban MPG@Cruise MPG@Speed Fuel Type
22.4mpg 41.5mpg 31.7mpg Unleaded
Kerb Weight Tow Weight Length Width Height
1489kg 1800kg 482cm 183cm 143cm
Boot Seats/up Boot Seats/Down Seats
440 Litres 882 Litres 5

 

Volvo have certainly moved forwards from the days of the older 7 and 8 series with robust and commercial styled suspension systems. The S80's suspension is typically modern with independent set up all round and anti roll bars front and rear to add to the torque of the springs. The steering is power assisted rack and pinion. All the efforts of both are fed through the very large and attractive 16" alloys with only a 55 profile tyre. Given so many features  on paper this car should handle well.

When looking at the strut brace across the engine compartment I though of rally cars not Volvo. With such a strong and rigid chassis it is suprising that one is fitted at all. Drive this car and you soon get a general feel of stability and predictability. Then speed like a maniac into a sharp corner and it handles as well as any sports BMW or hot hatch. Normally with a suspension set-up like this you can run over a coin on the road and tell which way up it is. Not with this Volvo S80. The ride is indeed hard and without any un-necessary rattles or bangs. The steering gives great feedback and even under extreme circumstances holds onto it line very well. At speed on the motorway the S80 distinguishes itself. The road noise is low and the cabin comfort is high. Stability combined with plenty of performance make it an all round pleasure.

 

Steer/Susp/Tech Features
Alloy Wheels
Alloy Wheels
Catalytic Converter
Catalytic Converter
Disc Brakes Front & Rear
Disc Brakes Front & Rear
External Temperature Gauge Fitted
External Temperature Gauge Fitted
Front Fog lamps fitted
Front Fog lamps fitted
Halogen Head Lights
Halogen Head Lights
Height Adjustable Headlight Aim
Height Adjustable Headlight Aim
Independent Suspension
Independent Suspension
Intermittent Wash Wipe
Intermittent Wash Wipe
Power Assisted Steering
Power Assisted Steering
Rev Counter
Rev Counter
Service Level Indicator
Service Level Indicator
Traction Control
Traction Control

 

In this section it would be easy just to say it's a Volvo.

Well it is.

 

Safety/Security Features
Alarm
Alarm
Antilock Braking System
Antilock Braking System
Child Locks
Child Locks
Engine Immobiliser
Engine Immobiliser
Front Side Air Bags
Front Side Air Bags
Front Side Curtain Air Bags
Front Side Curtain Air Bags
Front Twin Airbags
Front Twin Airbags
High level brake Light
High level brake Light
Locking Fuel Cap
Locking Fuel Cap
Pre Tensioned front Seat Belts
Pre Tensioned front Seat Belts
Remote Central Locking
Remote Central Locking
Side Impact Protection
Side Impact Protection
Three Rear 3 Point Seat Belts
Three Rear 3 Point Seat Belts
Visible Identification Number
Visible Identification Number

 

Equipped with multi air bags, SIPS, anti submarine seating, Pre-tensioned seatbelts etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc.

Memories for most of us with Volvo conjure up the older versions from as long ago as the seventies, with pedestrian friendly whistling bumpers and huge soft plastic impact absorbing bumpers.

I recall it was Volvo who patented the inertia seat belt and then released it for all other makers to use, without royalty fees. A truly commendable offering to all of us who have benefited since. Well Volvo did not stop there. the modern cars are designed for impact and supplied with almost every feature possible to avoid one. However if you are unfortunate enough to have an impact of any kind, I personally will assure you that if you're sat in one of these the other person is more likely to loose, unless they are driving another Volvo. Joking apart the sill sections themselves are so robust and large they would take decades to corrode and fail. Strength is clearly visible and evident by simply opening and closing the doors. The sound is solid and the body structure is very taught.

This S80 also has traction control to aid you in containing the car and ABS to do likewise or simply stop you ASAP because you don't want to ram the car in front catapulting it into orbit. Headlamps which are always on are also a mighty fine idea. I know that some folk don't like it,  as a motor cycle rider I can assure you it gets you seen. Being seen is not a posy thing in this Volvo you would need at least the C70 convertible for that, seen by others means simply that. You cannot be considered if not seen, so who cares who doesn't like it. It is a fact to be seen is to be safe. So please Mr traffic PC with your speed gun, pick on somebody more stealth like than obvious. It would not be sporting to charge a driver of a car so big, it could not be missed under almost any circumstance..

 

 

The first thing to point out here is that I am not an old man! being bribed, working for Volvo, Drunk or on medication.

I think this car is outstanding, and if you are to consider the cost price when new, bargain second hand ones are freely available at fractions of the original prices. Compare likewise pound for pound what you might get with the German marques and then drive one of the German marques you would have to be influenced not to buy one. More likely however by pier pressure than anything else. Volvos image is like Skodas. It's strange that Skoda are getting over theirs and Volvo are struggling to shrug theirs off. Even with almighty fast T4 T5 and T6 versions Volvo is still percepted as an older mans car. I cannot really understand why? even the older V6 Volvos with Renaults really bad engines were at least very quick and understated. 

This car is a genuine family run about and a hard working mule if needed to be, It will comfortably carry 5 people over huge distances without excess fatigue and frugally at the same time. Servicing is less than a BMW or Mercedes in cost and residual values are generally shattered by the first owner which tends to be leasing companies which are owned generally by banks so who cares.

 

 


 

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UK Car Road Test Volvo S80 2.4 SE 2001

UK Car Road Test Keywords: SaloonS80 2.4 SE