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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For The S80 is an excellent long-distance cruiser with plenty of space and comfort

Against The handling is not as sharp as a BMW's and the clutch is jerky in town traffic

Verdict It may not have the 'right' badge for the class, but it's still a very impressive car

Go for… 2.4 D5 turbodiesel

Avoid… 2.9 T6 petrol

Volvo S80 Saloon
  • 1. Oil coolers on automatic gearboxes can get damaged by speed bumps
  • 2. Steer clear of diesel engines that are reluctant to start or produce black smoke under hard acceleration
  • 3. Rear-seat passengers have limousine-like levels of legroom
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Volvo S80 Saloon full review with expert trade views

If you have a lunch meeting in London, and need to be in Paris for suppertime, there are few cars that can make the journey as relaxing as the Volvo S80. The larger engines are all refined and fast, while wind and road noise are nicely suppressed. With a comfortable chassis, it really does waft you along as the miles fall away.

What the big front-wheel-drive saloon won't do is encourage you to leave the motorway and take the twisty route. The steering is dull and body control poor; even the high-power T6 doesn't have a chassis sharp enough to do its performance justice.

It's better to sit back, relax, and enjoy the big comfortable, supportive seats. The dashboard may not be the most exciting, but it's logically laid out with plenty of stowage space. Rear passengers have limousine-like levels of legroom and the boot is massive - and bigger still once the rear seats are folded.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Loads of spec as standard. Build quality and refinement are excellent. As good as its competitors

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

The best choice is the D5 five-cylinder turbodiesel. It was introduced in June 2001, but in S trim only, and its good fuel economy and strong, 163bhp performance made it a big hit with customers. A more powerful version was introduced in May 2005.

Don't be put off by the S badge, because even the base S80 is a well equipped car, with climate control, side airbags, anti-lock-brakes, remote central locking, alloy wheels, CD player and an electric sunroof. But, if that's not enough, SE (available from August 2001) provided leather, a trip computer and front foglights.

Other than the D5, you might consder the five-cylinder, 140bhp 2.4-litre petrol, but it can feel overwhelmed when the car is fully laden. The 170bhp version provides more punch.

The early 140bhp 2.5 diesel is okay, but not as good as the D5 which replaced it in 2001. Two versions of the 2.9, six-cylinder petrol are available, one with 200bhp, while the other boasts 272bhp, but we wouldn't bother with either.

Trade view

John Owen

Fair ride quality and low noise means pleasant journeys

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

If you can set your badge snobbery aside, your money will go an awful lot further on a Volvo S80 than it will on the equivalent BMW 5 Series or Audi A6. You'll end up with a much better-equipped car, too.

The petrol engines will run to 12,000 miles or a year before needing a service, while the diesels are on slightly shorter 10,000-mile intervals, which isn't too bad - especially when you consider that Volvo dealers charge less than their BMW and Audi counterparts for servicing. However, independent Volvo experts tend to be slightly more expensive than those who specialise in used BMWs and Audis.

As long as you stay away from the group 17-rated T6, insurance costs are reasonable, too; diesel engines are particularly good news with just a group 13 rating. The D5's official 44mpg should put a smile on your face, too, but the T6's claimed 25mpg is less appealing.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Loads of spec as standard. Build quality and refinement are excellent. As good as its competitors

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

As a manufacturer, Volvo enjoys a reasonable reputation for reliability with strong showings in recent JD Power Customer Satisfaction Surveys. So, it comes as something of a surprise when you click on to www.vosa.gov.uk and find a list of recalls as long as Darren The Hoodie's ASBO collection.

There are too many to detail here, but some deal with major concerns such as possible fuel leaks, suspension failures and seatbelt anchorage problems. So, ensure that the car you're interested in has complied with any recalls it may have been subject to.

Also, beware diesel engines that are reluctant to start, or produce black smoke under hard acceleration. Listen out for rattles, which can mean that the exhaust heat shield has worked loose, although that's not too serious a problem.

More worrying are leaking oil coolers on automatic gearboxes - the units are mounted low down and can get damaged by speed bumps.

Trade view

John Owen

Fair ride quality and low noise means pleasant journeys

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford
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