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Volvo S80 PDF Print E-mail

Before any irate reader sends an e-mail claiming the model shown is nothing like the car described – it’s happened, believe me – let me state here and now that the Volvo built in Thailand is a CKD model (assembled in Thailand from a kit from with some locally-produced parts), and the one depicted is the new-for-2006 S80 that was launched last week in Geneva.

Volvo S80
Volvo S80
The locally-built S80 D5 is a state-of-the-art luxury sedan that uses diesel technology, which produces excellent fuel economy as well as low emissions.  Volvo Thailand claims the car can take you from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and back on a single tank of fuel.  Impressive.

The lightweight aluminum, five-cylinder engine delivers 163 bhp (120 kW) at 4,000 rpm, but it is the massive torque that sets this motor apart.  Produced between 1,740 and 3,000 rpm, its maximum is a teeth-pulling 340 Nm.  Top speed is a sedate 210 km/h, but acceleration from rest to the magic 100 km/h takes just 10 seconds.  On the road the S80 is relaxed and effortless, though, thanks to the huge reserves of torque.

Unusually for such a large sedan the S80 is front-wheel drive, but the adaptive five-speed automatic transmission masks any potential torque-steer effect on hard acceleration, while the braking system incorporates electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) as well as anti-lock braking. Traction control is also standard equipment.

As you might expect in a car at this level, the S80 is comprehensively equiped throughout.  Leather upholstery, folding rear seats in a 60:40 split, power driver’s seat with three memories, dual front airbags, side airbags, full-length air curtain; the list goes on. 

Volvo is part of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group (PAG), along with Land Rover, Aston Martin and Jaguar.  The iconic Swedish manufacturer is however, the most profitable division of the beleaguered US automaker.  Its line-up contains some of the best vehicles in their respective categories, including the Focus-based S40, the superb XC90 SUV and the latest addition, the beautiful C70 coupé.

The C70 – more of which in a future column – was originally a joint creation between Tom Walkinshaw in the UK and Volvo Sweden, intended to be built at Walkinshaw’s facility in Uddevalla, outside of Göthenburg in the west of Sweden.  When Walkinshaw went bust (along with the Arrows F1 team), Volvo, along with Pininfarina of Italy, took over the remnants.  The result is the exquisite C70.

Volvo was born in 1927 when the first car – nicknamed ‘Jakob’ for some reason – left the factory in Göthenburg in western Sweden.  The basic concept had been formulated from 1924 onwards by the two men behind Volvo: Assar Gabrielsson and Gustaf Larson.  Gabrielsson was the businessman; Larson the engineer.  That first car, officially known as ÖV4, was based on an American design with long leaf springs, front and rear.  It was powered by a 28 hp four-cylinder engine and could reach a heady 90 km/h, although Volvo recommended a cruising speed of a more modest 60 km/h.  Sales were a little slow in the first year with just 297 cars sold.

But back to the S80, the car available here in Thailand.  Originally designed by Peter Horbury, who is now one of Ford’s top design gurus, the S80 uses the same platform as the smaller S60, but is a truly, full-sized luxury sedan.  It compares well with others in its class, although it is probably not up there with Mercedes-Benz and BMW.  It is however, less expensive, and its diesel engine is certainly ahead of the rest. 

It is also one of safest cars around – a feature of all Volvos – and the S80 was nominated “No 1 Car That Can Save Your Life” by a U.S. consumer magazine in 2002.  Launched first in 1998, the S80 has received a long list of awards around the world.

This luxury Volvo is definitely a model worthy of consideration, for whatever reason, and that frugal diesel engine simply adds to its appeal.

-JH

 
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© 2018 Jeff Heselwood. All rights reserved.
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