Volvo S80 2.4 diesel

By Tim Saunders

Patience is a virtue.

That’s what I've always been told. Sadly, though this isn’t one of my strengths and it shows when I run late. Just ask my wife.

I’ve got a meeting at Gwel an Mor, Portreath, Cornwall at 4pm, and despite leaving Hampshire at 10am, it looks like I’m not going to make it in time. 

So the Volvo S80 D5 SE Lux Geartronic four door saloon has a tough job to please me over this 200 mile journey, which the AA says can be covered in four hours. But they don’t factor in tailbacks from roadworks and little daughter Harriett needing to stretch her legs. 

When there’s a straight run the Volvo is a delight – the six-speed automatic box is generally smooth, occasionally a little jerky. The intelligent cruise control cleverly keeps the car a safe distance behind the car in front and even automatically accelerates as long as the vehicle ahead is moving. Disappointingly it doesn’t operate at standstill requiring driver intervention. When the Volvo isn’t following a vehicle, cruise control works at speeds of 20mph and above. 

It’s on overtaking that this system becomes frustrating because the S80 maintains the speed of the vehicle it was behind making it necessary for the driver to kick the accelerator and override the system. Once you realise this, there’s no problem but it might be useful if the car could sense when it’s overtaking and act accordingly.

Over a long journey it becomes apparent that there are too many distractions from safety gadgets for my liking. The lane departure function makes an annoying buzz whenever the sleek Swede strays over the centre line of the road or something comes into its path, which happens a lot, to my surprise and eventual irritation. Thankfully this can be switched off, although it automatically comes back on every time the engine is started. The BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) function that sees a red light flash on the inside of either wing mirror, when a vehicle is present, is helpful. But this combined with the lane departure function and the flashing light that appears on the dash, when an object such as a traffic light is a little close for the Volvo’s liking, proves too annoying for me.  Undoubtedly these safety features are very worthy but they end up making me take my eyes off the road. Perhaps this is because I am unfamiliar with the vehicle, though, as I explain in my video at testdrives.biz. My concern is that drivers could become lazy by relying on these functions and then forget themselves when driving other vehicles. 

These qualms do not detract from the fact that the S80 is an excellent long distance companion, with plenty of power when required. This diesel will travel from 0 to 60mph in just 8.1 seconds and onto 140mph laws permitting. The interior is incredibly comfortable, light, airy and spacious. The front seats cosset their passengers in a way that few others do – they are even electrically heated and cooled. I particularly like the cold function as leather does have a tendency to get sticky on a hot day. So despite my moans we arrive at Gwel an Mor, Cornwall thoroughly relaxed, helped no doubt by the Volvo imparting some patience into its driver. 

Unfortunately, the near side rear tyre suffers a puncture and to my surprise there is no warning light on the dashboard to alert me - and I can’t tell when I’m driving. I only discover the sorry looking rubber on my arrival in Cornwall. In common with other manufacturers, Volvo no longer provides a spare wheel, instead a puncture repair kit that plugs into the cigarette lighter. A solution from a bottle screwed to the kit is then pumped through the tyre in about seven minutes temporarily repairing the puncture. Once this process is complete the Volvo can be driven up to 50mph for no more than a few hundred miles.

On locking the S80 for the night I have an issue with the lights. Although lights on a Volvo have always automatically switched on and off there is the option to turn them on manually, which I do and then proceed to forget that I’ve done so. Often a helpful buzzer sounds to alert you of your error – even in my ageing Fiesta. But not in the S80. Thankfully a passer-by tells me.

During our time together the S80 travels to Mevagissey, down the narrowest roads I have ever encountered and tackles frustrating double roundabouts, which are a common occurrence throughout Cornwall - and from my observations incredibly easy for many pre-occupied motorists to misjudge. 

“Volvo’s S80 is a premium, large saloon alternative to the Audi A6, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5-Series,” reports Parkers, the car experts. “While it may not be seen as being as desirable as its German competitors, the S80 is stylish in a subtle way, and although most people would be interested in the diesel engines, there is also a range of four, five, six and eight-cylinder petrol engines. Safety features include a collision warning system, and a personal car communicator key-fob which can tell if you’ve left the car unlocked. The S80 is also now offered with two chassis: a performance version which sits lower and with stiffer suspension, or a comfort version for a more limousine-type ride.”

Overall this stylish, supremely luxurious vehicle, with its fair share of chrome, does score highly with me. Returning 44mpg results in more than 600 miles from the 70-litre tank. It has to be said that during the test the S80 has improved my patience, too so perhaps those safety features that annoyed me so much have helped after all.

 

New price range: £29,015 - £42,585

 

Engine: 2.4-litre diesel

Economy: 44mpg

0-60mph: 8.1secs

Top speed: 140mph

Power: 215bhp

 

 

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