2007 Volvo S80 Review
THE AUTO PAGE
MODEL: 2007 Volvo S80
ENGINE: 4.4-liter V8
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 311 hp @ 5950 rpm/325 lb.-ft. @ 3950 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
WHEELBASE: 112.0 in.
LENGTH/WIDTH/HEIGHT: 191.0 x 73.0 x 59.0 in.
CARGO VOLUME: 17.0 cu. ft.
STICKER: $47,350 (base)/$49,245 (“showroom”)
Volvo is attempting to redefine its own interpretation of "Scandinavian luxury” with the introduction of the all-new S80 sedan. “All new” is a term used by many manufacturers in order to generate interest in a passé model. However, in this case, the term is valid, since the new S80 and the previous generation share nothing except their name.
True, the cars look similar, but the new S80 is more aerodynamic (but still in the Volvo mode), rides on a wheelbase that’s nearly two inches longer, yet is about the same overall length, and has a host of innovative features to have even the most dedicated techno-groupie wetting his (or her) lips.
The S80 will be available at the beginning of the year with a choice of two engines – a 4.4-liter V8 and a 3.2-liter I6. These replace the I5 that was offered previously.
Cramming an inline six transversely into the space previously occupied by a five could have been an impossible task. But Volvo’s six is only three millimeters longer than the five and, therefore, fits well.
My only compliant with the six is that its 235 horsepower seems slightly inadequate for a car that is to be “luxury.” We had a chance to drive the car over some fantastic roads east and north of Las Vegas, roads that seem designed to be test roads. The six disappointed both my co-driver and me because it didn’t deliver quite the performance we would have wanted. And this wasn’t race-car performance we were looking for; we sought the kind of drive we expected from a luxury car.
On the other hand, the 311 hp V8 (the first V8 Volvo has ever used) was a pleasure. When we wanted power to pass or climb hills, it was there with a pleasant throaty roar to the exhaust. When we didn’t need all the horses, the V8 would purr along nicely.
Both engines operate through a 6-speed automatic transmission that replaces the previous 5-speed. The six is front-wheel drive, the eight all-wheel drive.
Volvo’s Four C chassis is part of the S80 DNA. This chassis (actually suspension modifications) is used on the R series of sportier cars. In the S80, it offers three different suspension settings (Comfort, Sport and Advanced) that vary the attitude of the S80 as it traverses the highways. Comfort is softish, while Advanced offers a harsher ride. We both preferred “Sport.”
Being a Volvo, the S8 is infused with numerous safety features. Chief among these is a dual-stage torso airbag that protects the driver and passenger from side impact collisions. Of course, it has all the other air bags located strategically throughout the car – front, side curtain and probably a couple of others I didn’t count.
There’s a new feature called “accident avoidance.” This alerts the driver if he has driven too close to the vehicle in front or if that vehicle has slowed or stopped. A beeper goes off, red lights appear in the heads-up display, and, most importantly, the brake calipers are moved right next to the disc to help stop the car that much more quickly.
We tried the accident avoidance in a demonstration session where we trained an elaborately constructed car-sized air bag that was on a boom attached to another Volvo. The driver of the lead car would stop the car with no warning and we had to stop our car before ramming the bag, all the while noticing the new system.
Volvo also includes WHIPS, a acronym for Whiplash Protection System. In the event of a rear collision, WHIPS moves the headrests forward and braces the seat back to reducee the impact on the driver.
There’s a tiny button at the bottom of the center stack that’s labeled “BLIS.” At first, we wondered what this was for (“what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” and all that). BLIS stands for Blindspot Indicating System. Small cameras are located inside the housing for the outside rearview mirrors. When these cameras pick up the presence of a vehicle in the S80’s blind spot, or if a vehicle is passing the S80, a light flashes on the A-pillar near the mirror. Our European-spec test cars sometimes behaved erratically, but in general this seemed like a useful option.
Also, our Euro-spec exterior mirrors were convex on both sides, so there was a strong tendency not to use them.
Dealing with the fat leather-covered wheel proved to be a surprise. There was a switch on the right side whose function we couldn’t figure. The owner’s manual didn’t help because it was in Swedish. We eventually figured out that the switch (and two more we discovered were there), controlled the navigation system (that also explained the sunglass-holder piece of equipment that appeared to be stuck in the top-of-the-dash speaker. It seemed strange that the nav system could only be controlled by the driver, since it could be a distraction.
The Personal Car Communicator (PCC) is in the key fob. Push the button and it will tell you if you locked the doors when you left the car (even if the car is in Vegas and you live in New York) as well as the usual functions. The PCC also has a heartbeat detector. Why? You may ask. Well, if the car is unlocked and the detector senses the presence of a heartbeat or pulse, then someone is in the car who probably shouldn’t be there.
The S80 will compete against vehicles like the BMW 5-Series, the E-Class Mercedes-Benz, the Cadillac CTV and the Acura RL, Lexus GS and Infiniti M. Pricewise, the Volvo is competitive. Performance-wise, at least with the V8 engine, it’s at least in the pack and often ahead of the pack.
© 2006 The Auto Page Syndicate