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Volvo S80 D5 205 Twin Turbo 2009 Road Test

Sun, 22 Mar 2009

In being called out to Monaco to test drive the Volvo S80 D5 205, it  seemed only yesterday that I had last test-drove a Volvo S80.

But actually it was December 2006. And now Volvo has introduced some significant and very sensible improvements.

The first is the option of the same 110PS 1.6 engine and 5 speed transmission as fitted to my Focus ECOnetic. I drove an S80 with the 2.0 136PS diesel last year and found it surprisingly okay. But is this quest to reduce CO2 to just 129g/km from a big car just a step too far? We’ll have to wait to find out, as no 1.6 DRIVe cars were available at the test.

The other new engines are a 205PS sequential twin-turbo version of the evergreen D5, now offering 420Nm of muscle over a wide range of engine revs for a penalty of 45.6mpg and 164g/km.

While, in between this engine and the four cylinder diesels, an improved single variable vane turbo D5 offers 175PS with 420Nm torque for 47.9mpg and 155g/km CO2 that usefully puts it under the 160g/km limit for company car write-downs.

The other main changes to the S80 are that is it now offered with a choice of either a sporty, more responsive ‘Dynamic’ chassis, or a softened, more compliant ‘Comfort’ suspension set-up. (The Active suspension that allows you to choose between the two is still offered.)

The Dynamic chassis is lowered by 20mm at the front and 15mm at the rear by means of shortened coil springs with higher spring rates. Damping is also more controlled, all the subframe mountings have harder bushes and the anti roll bars are thicker to give more direct steering ‘feel’ and sportier handling. The chassis also incorporates automatic levelling.

Comfort uses softer springs and more subtle damping for a limo-like ride beloved by rear seat passengers of the carriage trade.

We drove the Dynamic first, Comfort second, on a variety of roads that included twisty bits and broken surfaces.

As expected, The Dynamic, sporty chassis is the more grippy and less understeery. The version we drove had all wheel drive, an option not immediately scheduled for the UK, though it could well be you could have one built to order. In fact there are so many trim and drivetrain options on the S80 for only around 1,500 annual UK sales that I suspect most will be built to order.

Comfort, on the other hand, does exactly what it says in the catalogue. But, with the 205PS engine, it also has the grunt to power itself round bends so while it is a bit more understeery, for me, at least, it would be the one to go for, even on the same 245/45 R18 tyres on which we drove the Dynamic version.

Apart from the new engines and chassis the S80 has quite a lot more to offer, including excellent, intuitive active cruise control that works in 5kmh/5mph increments and makes it easy to stick to speed limits, or, using the active facility, the speed of the car in front. Soon this will be further modified so it will stop you completely in a hold-up, then automatically increase your speed once again to what you pre-set.

As well as warning lights in the mirrors that something is overtaking in your blind-spot, the car can detect if you are weaving from lane to lane (as can happen while filming) and warns you to take a break.

The S80 is an excellent cat to be driven in as a back seat passenger, and is also decent to drive. It isn’t a BMW or an Audi or a Jaguar. Its most direct competitor is a Mercedes E Class. But a very pleasing consideration is what it says about you.

Not a BMW driver. Not an Audi driver. Not a Mercedes driver. Not a Jaguar driver.

Probably someone to be trusted, then.

For prices, specifications, engines, transmissions, dimensions and performance figures, please click the tabs.
More at www.volvo.co.uk

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