Volvo S80 2.5T Review
Executive alternative

Story by Justin Lee, pictures by Azfar Hashim
4 Aug 2009

It is sometimes good to be different. So buying a Volvo rather than the usual BMW or Mercedes means going off the beaten track in terms of car choice. But is the enhanced model compelling enough to tempt you down the alternative path?

Volvo S80

Most yuppies aspire toward a BMW 3 Series or Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The operative word here being "most", as there are some who will veer off course in terms of car choice which we will get to later. These small executive luxury cars make a statement about how people of their age have made it in life, and of course allow their owners to feel good (or smug?) about themselves.

And you would know how the story goes when the next promotion comes along - these same yuppies rise through the ranks, and of course, upgrade their rides to a 5 Series or an E-Class.

But there is a certain group who don't want to follow the herd or who don't want to stick religiously to one brand. They prefer not to buy a BMW or Mercedes - being different in terms of car choice can sometimes reap rewards as the cars turn out to be excellent...although sometimes, they are just not.

This is not to say it is all doom and gloom opting for an Audi A6 or this enhanced Volvo S80 on review here (which is from an "alternative" marque). The first generation car was good, with a spacious and comfortable cabin - and it sold moderately well here. However, it was not one of the most dynamic cars to drive and it did not pretend to be. After all, Volvos are all about comfort and usability, and not for carving the roads.


When Volvo launched the second generation S80 in 2006, it looked very similar to its predecessor - which was notable for being the first car from the Swedish brand to depart from the traditional boxy styling.

The second generation car is a handsome looking beast, but it looks more like a facelift of the first than anything else - it just doesn't move Volvo's design language like how the first S80 did. It is so nicely styled and nondescript in its beauty, that it fails to register the attention of other road users. This is a good thing if you are looking for a restrained looking set of wheels to show that you have arrived.

However, this reviewer can't help but feel that a little more flamboyance would not go amiss. Well it seems a remedy is on the way as the brand's design language is being shaken up a little as seen on the S60 Concept.

Volvo says that this S80 is a "year 2010 model" and "not a facelift" - which is why the tweaks are so subtle that they can be easily overlooked. The good news is that this little nip and tuck has done nothing to detract from the car's attractive lines.

The most obvious change is there is now a much larger Volvo emblem on the grille (like those found on the XC60 SUV). Elsewhere, there are new brightworks (aka chrome trimmings) on the air intakes, lower parts of the doors and below the tail lamps. The Volvo script on the bootlid has also been enlarged, to look like the one found on the XC60. Besides these changes, everything else looks very much the same as before - from the pronounced snout to the heavily sculpted shoulders.

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