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Car review: Volvo S80

The Volvo S80 is an unpretentious set of wheels: safe, discreet, sensible, comfortable and elegant, writes car reviewer Tim Barnes-Clay who took it for a test drive.

Volvo S80 D3 SE exterior

A humble soul is likely to drive a Volvo S80 – and I don't mean that in a derogatory way.

I suspect whoever gets behind the wheel of this Swedish saloon will be someone who's probably accomplished a lot but doesn't feel it necessary to blow his or her own trumpet.

Why do I think this? Well, the S80 is an unpretentious set of wheels. It's actually the flagship of Volvo's booted range, but it doesn't shout about it.

A safe, discreet and sensible motor

It's safe, discreet and sensible. In fact it's so caring, that it has a collision avoidance tool called City Safety.

The device could save you forking out hundreds of pounds for repair costs and vehicle down-time by evading low-speed crashes.

The car will transport you and your family in its strong metal cage with real comfort and a trace of elegance – but without the self-importance of German executive marques.

And that's often all that nothing-to-prove motorists, who still want a layer of luxury in their vehicle, wish for.

Fuel-saving start/stop technology

The Volvo S80 D3 SE Geartronic, propelled by a 2-litre oil-burner, hitched up to a six-speed automatic transmission, is one of the most pragmatic S80s to plump for.

The motor uses fuel-saving start/stop technology and relies on brake pressure to prompt when to rest and resume the engine.

It shuts off the instant the car reaches zero mph, and the action is so seamless that it feels like the saloon starts accelerating the moment the diesel-driven lump fires up again.

Drive 600 miles on a full tank

According to Volvo, this integrated equipment slashes CO2 emissions by 10g/km - translating into a reduction in fuel consumption of up to 3.6 miles per gallon.

I can't say I carried out any scientific tests, but it took a long time before my press car asked for a drink at the pumps.

I teased over 600 miles out of one full tank of fuel – and I wasn't driving tamely.

Volvo S80 D3 SE Geartronic: Spec

The pulling power of the medium-performance two-litre diesel D3 is relaxed, but not spiritless.

It takes 10.4 seconds to get from a standing start to 62mph, and on, say, a German autobahn you can wring 124mph out of it.

You won't feel it though, because the Volvo is so cosseting.

Legroom in the sober-looking Scandinavian saloon - especially for your rear seat travelling companions - is praiseworthy.

The car's soft, yet supportive leather seats enhance the journey for everyone.

The boot is big, but not as practical or easy to load as the S80's brother, the Volvo V70 estate.

Competitively priced

Volvo S80 D3 SE interior

The Volvo S80 is competitively priced against rivals such as Audi, BMW and Jaguar.

Together with low running costs and minimal CO2 emissions, this motor is a tempting prospect for anyone, or any business, looking for a substantial executive motor.

As a matter of fact, it could be argued that in these economically erratic times, turning up in a less grandiose car might create a better impression for a company.

Into the bargain, you may want to start looking at buying this incarnation of the S80 now.

With a 2014 model year in production and orders already being taken, it's likely you'll end up with a terrific deal.

Volvo S80 D3 SE Geartronic: Pros & cons

  • Safe √
  • Comfortable √
  • Cosseting √
  • Economical √
  • V70 boot better X 

Volvo S80 D3 SE Geartronic: Fast facts

  • Max speed: 124 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 10.4 secs
  • Combined mpg: 57.6
  • Engine: 1984 cc, 5 cylinder, 20 valve, turbo diesel
  • Max. power (bhp): 134 at 3500 rpm
  • Max. torque (Ib/ft): 258 at 1500-2250 rpm
  • CO2: 129 g/km
  • Price: £31,005

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Tim Barnes-Clay

Leon Poultney

Tim is an experienced motoring writer with a background in radio and TV journalism. He puts his pedal to the metal each week with his must-read car reviews.

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