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First Oz drive: Volvo gets serious with S80

Scando luxo: Volvo says S80 is its declaration of being non-Germanic.

Volvo joins the list of fully fledged luxury sedan makers with its all-new S80

16 Feb 2007

VEE-EIGHT firepower, all-wheel drive traction and sleek styling: it's a familiar configuration, but it's no longer the exclusive domain of Audi.

Indeed, while convincing new models like the Lexus GS and Honda Legend see Japan continue to make slow but steady inroads into Germany's dominance of the full-sized luxury saloon market, Volvo's slick new S80 appears to have enough of the hallmarks to successfully hoist the Scandinavian nation into the league its predecessor failed so unspectacularly to crack.

In their home markets, Alfa Romeo (via the 166), Jaguar (S-Type), Peugeot (607) and Citroen (C6) have all attracted a loyal following for building less expensive, highly specified front-drive alternatives to the dominant large luxo sedan models in BMW's 5 Series, the Mercedes-Benz E-class and the segment's unsung hero, the Audi A6.

In Australia, however, the German marques continue to sway the vast majority of luxury car buyers, with underdone offerings like 1998's long-discontinued S80 and Saab's ancient 9-5 failing to put Sweden on the radar of demanding 5 Series customers.

Marking the return of Volvo's flagship sedan Down Under for the first time since July 2005, the second-generation S80 is designed to change all that.

Featuring V8 and turbo-diesel engines for the first time, as well as a solid new chassis with all-wheel drive capability to replace its predecessor's exclusively front-drive layout, the all-new S80 further entices with striking yet subtle styling, a high level of standard equipment, Volvo's legendary reputation for safety and super-competitive pricing.

Opening the range is the front-drive S80 D5 turbo-diesel, at $71,950. A logical replacement for the previous S80 2.5T, which was priced at $75,950, it's powered by an all-alloy 2.4-litre inline five-cylinder turbo-diesel that delivers 136kW at 4000rpm and a healthy 400Nm at of torque from 2000rpm.

Mated exclusively to a six-speed Geartronic automatic with manual-shift mode, the D5's common-rail direct-injection long-stroke diesel mill produces 0-100km/h acceleration in a claimed nine seconds, has a top speed of 225km/h, returns average combined fuel consumption of 7.2L/100km and emits 193g/km of C02.

First seen in last September's facelifted and expanded XC90 SUV range, Volvo's Coated Diesel Particulate Filter (CDPF) equipped oil-burner will also appear in the S40 D5 sedan and V50 D5 wagon next month, as well as the all-new C30 hatch by late 2007. In those five-speed auto-equipped models, peak torque will be 50Nm less (350Nm).

At the top of the range is the flagship S80 V8 AWD, which was revealed at the Geneva motor show on February 28 last year prior to going on sale across Europe in June. Also on sale here now, it's priced at $95,950 – or $3000 less than the top-shelf (front drive) T6 variant in the original S80 line-up ($98,950).

Only marginally thirstier than the 200kW/380Nm 2.9-litre twin-turbo inline six flagship it succeeds (11.9 v 11.1L/100km), the S80's 4.4-litre transverse alloy V8 is a well-publicised Yamaha-developed unit featuring a 60-degree V-angle, 10.4:1 compression, DOHC per bank, four valves per cylinder and continuously variable inlet and exhaust valve timing. Claimed outputs are 232kW at 5850rpm and 440Nm at 3900rpm.

As Volvo's first ever V8 sedan, the S80 range-topper packs the same powertrain as the flagship XC90 XC90 – a 2100kg vehicle that weighs some 360kg more than the top-spec S80. At 1742kg (1587kg for the D5), however, the four-door V8 is 67kg heavier than the S80 T6 it replaces.

Running on a minimum of 95 RON premium unleaded, the S80 V8 completes the 0-100km/h dash in a claimed 6.5 seconds (T6: 7.3 seconds), is electronically speed limited to 250km/h, returns 11.9L/100km average combined fuel consumption and releases 284 grams of C02 per kilometre. A six-speed auto is standard, instead of the former T6's four-speeder.

18 center imageFrom April, Volvo Car Australia hopes to offer what's expected to be the volume-seller of the new S80 range, in the shape of the S80 3.2 AWD. To be priced at $75,950 (the same as the defunct S80 2.5T), the S80 3.2 AWD employs Volvo's new 175kW/320Nm straight six is also transversely-mounted and drives through the same Haldex-coupled AWD system as the V8.

As expected, S80 comes packed with safety features, as well as cutting edge technology like the Ohlins-developed variable suspension damping system that debuted on the S60R and V70R in 2003. Dubbed "Four-C" or Continuously Controlled Chassis Concept offers the choice of Comfort, Sport or Advanced damping settings and, unlike in Europe, will be standard on all S80 variants.

New-for-S80 technology includes the optional Clean Zone Interior Package (CZIP - $250), which is claimed to purge interior air when the S80 is unlocked after being parked to reduce exposure to air-borne contaminants and Personal Car Communicator - a key fob that, within 100 metres, reveals whether the car is un/locked, whether the alarm has been triggered and whether there is someone in the car (via a heartbeat monitor).

There's also the $2950 option of radar-operated Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) featuring Collision Warning with Brake Support (CW), a 30 per cent brake force intervention system, light-sensing active bi-Xenon headlights, Intelligent Driver Information System (IDIS – as seen S40, V50 and C70) and Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), while Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) is a $1200 option on all Volvos .

Apart from ABS, EBA, EBD and Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC), there are dual-stage twin front airbags, twin side curtain airbags and new seat-mounted twin-chamber side impact airbags, front/rear Park Assist with dipping and folding wing mirrors, automatic LED tail-lights (when the boot is opened), a hard braking hazard warning system, an electronic handbrake, power rear child door locks, headlight washers that operate one at a time to maintain night vision and five-three-point seatbelts with auto-height adjustment up front.

All S80s will also offer full leather trim, dual-zone climate control with B-pillar outlets, heated/power front seats with memory, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a six-CD in-dash stacker, multi-function steering wheel, side puddle lights, rain-sensing wipers, approach/home safe lighting and adjustable steering effort – low, medium or high assistance can be selected via the settings menu.

While full specifications for the 3.2 AWD are not yet available, the D5 features 17x7.0-inch alloys with 225/50-section tyres and the V8 has 18x8.0-inch items wrapped in 245/40-section tyres (a $1500 option for the D5). Also, while the D5 has an eight-speaker/160-Watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system, the V8 offers a 12-apeaker/650-Watt unit. All variants offer a 17-inch space-saver, a load capacity of 480kg, un/braked tow capacity of 750kg/2000kg and 70 litres of fuel capacity.

At 4851mm long, the new S80 V8 AWD is 29mm longer than the previous S80 T6, as well as 27mm wider (1861mm) and 34mm higher. It rides on a 45mm-longer (2835mm) wheelbase with wider wheel tracks (1578mm front 1575mm rear) and is claimed to offer a far larger interior despite its rounder shape. Inside there's the S40/V50/C70's Floating Centre Console (FCC).

The front-drive D5 has an 11.2-metre turning circle, while in the 3.2 and 4.4 AWD variants it's 12.2 metres.

Volvo plans to build 50,000 S80s annually at its Torslanda Plant in Gothenburg, Sweden, with the USA, Germany, Russia, Sweden, China and UK being the biggest markets – and 70 per cent are expected to be conquest sales from other brands.

Volvo S80 pricing:
D5 (a) $71,950
3.2 AWD (a) $75,950
4.4 V8 AWD (a) $95,950

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