1 May 1998
THE original Volvo S80 was the first mainstream model from the Swedish manufacturer to really break the company’s famous boxy styling.
Fluid, forward design replaced Volvo's trademark origami shapes.
Released in Australia in the middle of 1998, it replaced the S90 sedan and V90 wagon, the rear-wheel drive Volvo flagship that was based on the 16 year-old 760/960 relic.
And so the S80 was Volvo's big, bold hope to make the transition into BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi territory. It was a development of the front-wheel drive P2 platform that was to also underpin the future S60/V70 and XC90 Volvos.
The T6 model - with its 200kW/380Nm, twin-turbo, 2.8-litre, inline six-cylinder engine - was the S80 range-topper. It was mated to a four-speed sequential-shift automatic gearbox.
Below it came the S80 2.9, a 150kW/280Nm DOHC in-line six-cylinder engine paired to a four-speed automatic gearbox. It is slung transversely across the engine bay.
All models boast anti-whiplash front seat design, inflatable "curtain" airbags and advanced Multiplex electrical wiring.
To manage the aggressive power output, the T6 comes with traction and stability control plus a viscous-coupled driveline.
From July ’99 to October ’03 a range-topping S80 T6 SE was released, and came fully equipped. It included satellite navigation from mid-’01.
November 2003 saw the release of the S80 Series II.
Externally, there is little to see apart from a square mesh grille in dark silver metallic along with a re-profiled lower air intake. At the rear, the bootlid is now in one piece, while the tail-lights are made smaller by use of LED brake lamps.
Internally, the S80 has sports style instrument dials, new door panels and handles, real wood trim panels, and a new three-spoke wooden sports style steering wheel.
The twin-turbo 200kW T6 now has German-engineered steering from ZF and can be ordered with the FOUR-C active chassis similar to the one found on the R cars. The S80 option gives the choice of comfort and sport settings.
Other additions are Bi-Xenon lights, 17-inch Stentor alloy wheels and rear park assist.
It was joined from October ’04 to July ’05 by the short-lived S80 2.5T, powered by a 154kW/320Nm 2.5-litre turbo five-cylinder engine mated to five-speed automatic transmission.
The Road to Recovery podcast series