The front-drive S80 arrived in 1999 as Volvos new flagship sedan, replacing the rear-drive S90. Volvo is using the S80s front-drive platform as the basis for the 2001 S60 sedan and V70 station wagon, and parent company Ford is considering using the platform for other new models.
Later this model year, Volvos satellite-based On Call Plus communication service will become optional, using an integrated cell phone to summon emergency services after an accident. Volvo plans to add travel directions in the near future.
The S80 looks dramatically different than its squared-off predecessors because it was designed only as a sedan. Previously, Volvo designed its boxlike station wagons first and then changed the sheet metal at the rear to create the sedans.
The S80s grille is further forward and more compact than the S90s and is accented by a prominent V-shape molded into the hood a Volvo styling signature. The sharply raked rear window has nearly the same angle as the windshield. Large taillights and crisp creases give the rear sharp contrast to the trim, rounded front.
The S80s spacious interior makes some other luxury sedans look small by comparison. There is ample headroom for tall passengers, even with the optional sunroof, and rear passengers enjoy generous legroom and space for their feet under the front seats. The trunk opening is not that large, despite a lid that opens more than 90 degrees, but the cargo floor is long, wide and flat. The split rear seatbacks release from inside the trunk and fold flat without removing the headrests.
Large windows provide an excellent view to the front and sides, and the rear headrests fold down with the push of a dashboard button for a clear view directly back.
Under the Hood
The S80 2.9 uses a 2.9-liter inline-six-cylinder engine with 197 horsepower, and the T-6 model has a 2.8-liter inline-six with twin turbochargers and 268 hp. Both engines are mounted transversely and are hitched to a four-speed automatic transmission. On the T-6, the transmission is called Geartronic and allows manual gear changes by pushing the shift lever fore or aft.
The S80 has an impressive list of safety features: antilock brakes, traction control, three-point shoulder belts with pretensioners at all five seating positions and side-impact airbags for the front seats. The S80 also has Volvos curtain-type airbags, which extend from the front roof pillar to the rear pillar and drop down from above the windows.
Also standard is the WHIPS protection system, which moves the front seatbacks and headrests rearward to minimize whiplash in a rear-end collision.