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Volvo S80 T6



WILL they or won't they? That's the question everyone wants an answer to with the new Volvo S80. Will they build an estate version or won't they? Now that Volvo has lost the 940 and V90 large estates from its range, there's only the V70 left to uphold the company's honour as market leader in the sector. Sheer economics mean the answer to the estate question has to be yes - the resultant 18% slip in market share from a staggering 49% to just 31% with the demise of the 940 and V90 can't be ignored - but while the new car will be bigger than the V70 it won't look like the S80 and may or may not be based on its platform. In any case, we won't see it until 2000.

But it's not all bad news. Even with 'just' 32%, Volvo is still some 18% ahead of its nearest rival on sales - Mercedes-Benz with the C-class estate - though it means that for the first time in living memory there isn't a truly massive Swedish load-lugger on sale. Instead, Volvo is concentrating on the luxury end of the market with the new S80, which competes with Audi, BMW and Mercedes.

The S80 is a car that won't be missed on the road: the distinctive shouldered waistline may not be to everyone's taste, but it does mark the Volvo out. At the front, the traditional grille is flanked by large headlights that give the S80 the unmistakable Volvo face. It's one of the biggest cars in the class at more than 4.8m long, too, and unusually, the engines sit transversely alongside the gearbox driving the front wheels.

Eventually five S80 models will become available, including a diesel, but initially just two engine choices are offered - a 2.9-litre straight-six developing 204bhp and costing ú27,630, and a twin-turbo 2.8 straight-six developing 272bhp in the top of the range T6, featured here at ú36,230. Next spring two versions of the 2.4-litre five-cylinder engine in the S/V70 are introduced developing 140bhp and 170bhp, priced at ú22,155 and ú24,255 on the road. There will also be a five-cylinder turbodiesel, priced at ú24,355.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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