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Does size really matter?

Volvo further downsizes the S80 by introducing a new 1.6-litre T4 version. Is it an extreme case of downsizing or a masterstroke in exploiting the COE system?
OneShift Editorial Team
OneShift Editorial Team
17 May 2011
What we like:
pros
Impressive performance for a big car with a rather small engine
pros
all the luxuries and convenience of a large executive but much more affordable to tax and run
What we dislike:
cons
Ageing looks
cons
uninspiring engine note
cons
mundane handling dynamics


There aren't any immediately noticeable differences over the 2.0T when it comes to the cabin other than the slightly different inserts on the steering wheel and gear knob and the lack of the 2.0T's sports pedals. The driving position is spot on and the seats are as superbly comfortable like Volvo's should be. The use of matte aluminium trim and high quality plastics and switchgear gives the cabin a luxury ambience. Everything is logical and all the important switchgear is within close proximity of the driver. The overall design of the cabin is a pleasant one as well thanks to its Scandinavian simplicity design theme.

At the rear, the S80 offers as much room as most of its closest competitors. In addition, rear occupants are spoilt by B-pillar mounted air-con vents to keep them cool in our tropical heat. The light coloured cabin in the test car here makes for an interesting alternative to the usual somber grey or black interior themes that are usually found in premium executive models.

The S80 T4 is superbly equipped for a Cat A model. It comes with the same standard equipment and luxuries as the $10k more expensive 2.0T model that includes all the usual Volvo passive and active safety kit like WHIPS, SIPS, Inflatable Curtains, DSTC electronic stability control and luxuries like cruise control, rear park assist, rain sensors, electrical adjustments for the front seats, factory fitted stereo with iPod connectivity and so on.

Even though the T4 is an entry level model with a relatively tiny engine, it doesn't lack any of the mid-range 2.0T model's refinement, comfort, luxury and convenience while its on road performance feels hardly any lacking to the 2.0T. But the S80 T4's biggest draw is its price advantage over its rivals thanks to its Cat A COE classification. Compared to say, a Saab 95 2.ot or an Audi A6 2.0TFSI, the S80 T4 is roughly $30k more affordable. Moreover, the S80 T4 will be cheaper to fuel and tax than its rivals. Volvo might have achieved a masterstroke by downsizing the S80's engine with the T4 but on the downside, we reckon that the completeness of the new model has made the mid-range 2.0T a tad redundant.

Credits: Story and photos by Raymond Lai

Cars in this article
Volvo S80 T4 (A) 2011
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Volvo S80 T4 (A) 2011

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