I FEEL like I’ve been living in our Volvo over the past month and the S80 has become a home from home.
With car manufacturers continuing their onslaught of new model launches, I’ve been out and about a lot, which has given me plenty of time to get to know our long-term S80 a little bit better.
From the driver’s seat things are pretty good. The seats are excellent, offering a good balance between supple comfort and side bolstering to keep you in place. and the standard fit heated/ventilated leather seats give your rear end either a toasting or chilling.
With satellite navigation and Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity (optional extras at £1,850 and £250 respectively) I’m effectively an office on the move, able to get to destinations quickly, in comfort and all the while constantly – and more importantly legally – contactable.
The BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) is also proving a boon. This uses cameras mounted underneath the mirrors to detect if cars are moving alongside into the blind spot all cars have. If a car is there, an orange light illuminates on the door, helping avoid those accidents where the excuse is ‘I didn’t see you’. For those covering a lot of motorway miles, it’s a £650 option well spent.
And I’m impressed with the fit and finish, with high quality plastics, leather and some smart brushed aluminium trim giving the cabin a more modern feel. Combined with the ‘floating’ centre console and it looks and feels bang up-to-date.
But the drivetrain combination doesn’t. We have the top D5 diesel engine coupled to the Geartronic automatic gearbox and it’s not a happy union.
The main problem is the time lag between pressing the throttle and the car moving away from a standstill. This makes darting for a gap in the traffic a lesson in pre-planning – once the rear wheel of the passing car is level with the middle of the S80’s bonnet is the time to press the accelerator.
On the move and things are still not right, with the gearbox dropping down a cog too many when you kickdown. This causes the engine to rev highly – and it isn’t a pleasant noise either.
This frenetic feel doesn’t suit the long-legged nature of the S80, which is a very comfortable car in which to soak up the miles.
The S80 has many virtues –space, comfort, price and equipment – but it is the engineering which prevents it from being a true rival to the usual German trio in the executive sector.
Price: £30,050 (£37,919 as tested)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 193
Company car tax bill (2007) 40% tax-payer: £256 per month
Combined mpg: 38.7
Test mpg: 33.6
CAP Monitor RV: £12,450/41%
Contract hire rate £626
Expenditure to date: Nil