Review: Volvo S80 (2006 – 2016)

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Very comfortable seats and excellent ride quality. Feels like a solid and well made car.

Lags behind the competition when it comes to handling. Smaller engines lack refinement. Serious issue of carbon build-up in pre-AdBlue EU6 D4 VEA engines that have not been run on high Cetane superdiesel.

Volvo S80 (2006 – 2016): At A Glance

The front-wheel drive revolution at Volvo continued with the arrival of the S80 executive saloon, which consigned the rear-drive 900 Series models to the history books. In one sweep, Volvo also put itself firmly into the mainstream of the executive class too.

While the S80 does not worry the BMW 5 Series for dynamic ability, the Volvo does not pretend to be the last word in handling finesse. What it does deliver in large Scandinavian portions is comfort and space. If you’re considering an Audi A6 or Mercedes E-Class, think about the S80 before signing on the dotted line.

The S80 shares much of its chassis and mechanical parts with the V70 and XC90, so reliability is good and there are a fair spread of engines and transmission options. Most UK buyers will plump for the turbodiesel models, which are offered in 2.5 D 140PS and 163PS D5 forms, with a 185PS version of the D5 arriving in mid-2005 that also enjoyed a boost in mid-rev shove to 400Nm.

Most S80 models will be fitted with a five-speed Geartronic automatic gearbox, reflecting the predilections of buyers in this class and the type of car the S80 is. It’s a cruiser rather than a sports saloon, though there is the option of a 272PS T6 model with 2.9-litre six-cylinder turbo petrol engine.

Other petrol motors include a non-turbo 2.9-litre with 196PS and Volvo’s usual five-cylinder range of 2.4-litre petrols with 140PS, 170PS and turbocharged 200PS and 210PS units. Rounding off the engine line-up is a 2.0-litre turbo five-cylinder engine with 180PS that joined the range in early 2003.

Performance varies from sedate to rapid depending on the engine you choose, but all S80’s have a very spacious, cosseting cabin. Rear seat passengers are treated to generous legroom, while the driver has Volvo’s typically thoughtful and logical dash layout to peruse.

All models are underpinned by a long list of standard safety equipment. This includes twin front, side and curtain airbags, as well as anti-lock brakes, ESP traction control and anti-whiplash headrests.

Volvo S80 D5 2007 Road Test

Volvo S80 D5 205 Twin Turbo 2009 Road Test and Video

Volvo S80 DRIVe 2011 Road Test


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What does a Volvo S80 (2006 – 2016) cost?

Volvo S80 (2006 – 2016): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4851–4854 mm
Width 1861–2106 mm
Height 1490–1493 mm
Wheelbase 2835 mm

Full specifications

If the Volvo S80’s driving dynamics trail behind those of its German rivals, the interior of the Swede is where it gets right back on terms. For sheer size and space, only the Mercedes E-Class is comparable to the Volvo thanks to the amount of room given over to occupants’ heads, legs and shoulders. This is true whether you are sat in the front or back of the S80.

Take a pew in the back of the Volvo and you find the broad bench offers excellent comfort and good support. There is more than enough room back here for three adults to fit without feeling scrunched up and Volvo provides a trio of three-point seat belts too.

The view out is also good for those in the rear thanks to large door windows and a shoulder line that runs flat along the car’s flanks rather than sweeping up.

Those lines carry on along the edges of the boot, which has a 460-litre capacity to be among the best in this sector. Access to the boot is good as the lid lifts up high to leave a wide opening.

Moving to the front and the driver’s environment, the seat itself is another area where Volvo surpasses the competition. While it may not have the overtly sporty shape and appearance of some rivals’, there is no doubt the S80’s driver will arrive at the end of a very long journey feeling comfortable and ache-free thanks to a seat that supports in all the right places. It’s also safe too thanks to anti-whiplash headrests.

As the S80 is a Volvo, it comes with plenty more safety kit besides anti-whiplash headrests. There are front, side and curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes and ESP, as well as Volvo’s passenger cell construction that has been designed and proven to lessen the effects of an impact on its occupants.

Sticking with the sensible theme, the S80’s dash is a lesson in how to group controls logically. All of the stereo, ventilation and minor switchgear are positioned in a way that makes them intuitive to use. There are more buttons on the Volvo’s dash than some rivals’, but they perform their functions without drama or distraction.

It’s the same story with the main instruments directly in front of the driver. An optional satellite navigation screen pops out of the dash top, though the screen is not the easiest to see and the quality of the mapping is dated.

The steering wheel adjusts for height and reach and Volvo has fitted some remote controls on to the wheel for the stereo, cruise control and hands-free phone where fitted. There is also a control to scroll through the onboard computer on the left-hand column stalk.

Child seats that fit a Volvo S80 (2006 – 2016)

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What's the Volvo S80 (2006 – 2016) like to drive?

The executive sector establishment is made up of Audi, BMW and Mercedes, so it is this triumvirate that Volvo has to muscle in on with the S80. While the BMW 5 Series majors on handling prowess and the Mercedes on its more stately progress, it’s the Audi A6 that is the most direct rival to the Volvo S80.

This is why the S80 has been blessed with build quality even the Swedish firm says is its best work yet. However, that kind of deliberate and considered construction comes with a weight penalty that means the S80 tips the scales at around 1550kg, depending on the model you choose.

With that amount of weight to carry, it’s little wonder the S80 enjoys performance that is best described as adequate when fitted with its more modestly powerful engines. The least potent is the 140PS non-turbo petrol which feels slovenly even when coupled to the standard five-speed manual. It covers 0-62mph in 10.2 seconds, but if you opt for the auto that sprint time recedes to 11.0 seconds.

There is a significant improvement with the 170PS version of this non-turbo 2.4-litre motor. It enjoys brisker acceleration and noticeably better mid-rev urge for overtaking and it generally makes cruising in the S80 a much more relaxed affair.

This is especially so when the automatic gearbox is fitted as the driver does not have to press so hard on the throttle pedal as to induce the gearbox to kick down a gear or two when all you want is a little more speed, such as when joining the motorway from a slip road.

Head for the turbocharged 2.4-litre engines, or the later 2.5 motors that arrived in 2003, and you will find the S80’s performance is easily alongside that of its contemporaries with similar power outputs. Even so, the Volvo engines may be turbocharged but their raison d’etre remains calm and unflustered cruising, which they deliver as well as any Audi A6.

For those who want more speed, the T6 models with a turbocharged 2.9-litre six-cylinder engine are the ones to go for. With 272PS on tap, they have a top speed of 155mph and cover 0-62mph in 7.0 seconds, though they also have a penchant for unleaded that results in a combined average economy of 25.0mpg.

The best bet for economy, and for all-round driving duties in the S80, are the diesel engines. Avoid the 140PS 2.5 D if you can and head for the D5 in 163PS or later 185PS forms. It’s a much smoother engine than the earlier 2.5 D and also much more punchy thanks to more low-down urge. Mated to five- or six-speed manuals or a five-speed automatic, the D5 engines will work tirelessly for mile after mile and deliver good economy for a car of this size and type.

What the S80 won’t deliver is much in the way of driver excitement. It deals with most bump-strewn roads with ease and only more sudden ridges catch it out, but the handling is merely adequate. In corners, the Volvo’s body leans markedly at the merest suggestion of it being hustled with vigour.

This feeling is accentuated for the driver by steering that is geared more towards all-day cruising than switchback country lanes. On the plus side, noise is ably excluded from the S80’s cabin and it does make light work of long journeys.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.6 DRIVe 63 mpg 11.5 s 119 g/km
1.6D DRIVe 58–63 mpg 12.4 s 119–129 g/km
1.6D DRIVe Start/Stop 63–69 mpg 11.5–12.8 s 109–119 g/km
2.0 34 mpg 11.6 s 199 g/km
2.0 D 50 mpg 11.0 s 151 g/km
2.0 FlexiFuel 34 mpg 11.6 s 199 g/km
2.4 D 44–48 mpg 8.9–9.5 s 155–169 g/km
2.5 T 29–33 mpg 7.3–7.7 s 206–229 g/km
2.5 T FlexiFuel 31–33 mpg 7.3–7.7 s 206–219 g/km
D2 Powershift 69–69 mpg 12.8 s 109 g/km
D3 53–66 mpg 9.7–10.4 s 114–139 g/km
D3 Geartronic 48–58 mpg 9.7–10.4 s 129–154 g/km
D4 69 mpg 8.4 s 104 g/km
D4 Geartronic 63 mpg 8.4 s 113–117 g/km
D5 44–61 mpg 7.6–8.5 s 120–169 g/km
D5 AWD 41 mpg 8.9 s 182 g/km
D5 Geartronic 45–46 mpg 7.8–8.5 s 159–166 g/km
T4 41–43 mpg 8.5 s 152–159 g/km
T4 PowerShift 34–38 mpg 7.7–9.2 s 172–193 g/km
T5 36 mpg 7.5 s 184 g/km
T5 PowerShift 34 mpg 7.7 s 193 g/km
T6 AWD 29 mpg 6.7 s 231 g/km
V8 AWD 23 mpg 6.5 s 284 g/km

Real MPG average for a Volvo S80 (2006 – 2016)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

22–64 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Volvo S80 (2006 – 2016)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

What comfortable car is best for doing a lot of miles?

I do a lot of miles (35k+ year on mixed roads) around the UK. I currently have a 2006 Audi A6 Avant and I'm looking to change for something comfortable for around £5000. Any suggestions?
You'll want a diesel for 35k miles a year but any diesel at this price has the potential to produce some hefty bills. How about a Toyota Avensis? It's not an exciting choice but it'll be extremely dependable. If you'd prefer something a bit more upmarket, a Volvo S60 or S80 could be a very comfortable choice.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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