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Volvo S 80

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Life in Sweden must have been hard not having much time for frivolous behavior getting ready for the freezing winter by building furniture with just a little Allen key and a set of vague instructions. Anyway that's my theory on why the Volvo has always been an unremarkable automobile. Safe but a little bit of a yawn. It may be a product of global warming but I can tell you the Swedes finally get luxury. The Volvo S80 is a car that strives to compete on equal terms with its southern neighbours like the Mercedes, Audi and BMW.

There are also some innovative gadgets ranging from adaptive cruise control to the intelligent driver information system which delays incoming messages if it detects you are involved in navigating a demanding curve. The Swedish finally “get it” (the luxury market that is).

All this comes wrapped in a very stylish exterior. Long gone are the boxy days of Volvo and the S series has always been at the vanguard of the new Volvo “Swedish luxury” claim. Once again, the exterior is surprising for a Volvo but if the same design carried a Mercedes Badge one wouldn't be surprised. “Clean surfaces and harmonious designs”, claim the Swedes and it would be hard to disagree.

The first thing to notice about the interior is that it has all the hallmarks of the Volvo design; it is simple and functional. Let's also state it is very elegant. The layout may be less sumptuous than say a BMW but there is little to fault. The control panel is clear and accessible to the driver. The air-conditioner is directed by pressing the head, body or legs of the “Volvo man” but leaving that little Ikea moment aside, this is a quality finish. The instrument cluster is a re-design of previous Volvos and the controls are still simple and effective.

Seating is some of the most comfortable we've experienced both for the driver and passenger with lots of ability to adjust and acres of leg room. There is plenty of boot space; the most we've seen on a car of this class. Equal attention is also given to the rear seating providing centre arm rests with cup holders and of course plenty of leg room too.

One of the most interesting features of the S80 is the active cruise control, using a radar system the cruise control will keep a standard distance between you and the car in front speeding up and slowing down as needed. Unfortunately it can do little about the large FWD tailgaiting you down SZR. A level of trust needs to be established before we tried it out on the open road but expect to see similar systems in other cars in the near future. One more safety aspect is the Inflatable Curtain which will cushion the head and side of the passengers and stays inflated in multiple or longer-duration accidents.

Of course Volvo has always “got” safety and the S80 is no exception. To protect against whiplash there is the new WHIPS system and if your car is hit from behind at low speed, WHIPS ensures the front seat follows the backward movement of the body and tips to cushion the head and upper part of the body - all of which helps to significantly reduce the strain on the spine and neck. So now we know the S80 looks stylish and has excellent safety features, what about the handling? The 6 cylinder 3.2L test car has a maximum power of 238 Hp at 6200 rpm a maximum torque of 320 Nm at 3200 rpm. This enables an acceleration rate of 0 to 100 km/h in 7.9 secs with a top speed of 240km/h. Of course we weren't allowed to physically test that speed but the pick up was definitely powerful enough to convince us of its capabilities. The steering wheel is easy to handle in the sense that it is so smooth you'd finally discover what power steering really is. The S80 handles so effortlessly that turns could even be negotiated with just one hand (although we're not supposed to encourage that). The turning radius is so small that you don't have to worry about tight U-turns in and around the city.

We liked everything about the S80; the looks, the performance, the interior and, most of all the safety features. The average price of AED 140,000 may be slightly steep but isn't it a known fact that luxury usually costs a little extra? 69 new car guide


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