Specifications

Launched: 1998
Engine sizes: 2.4, 2.4 D5, 2.5D, 2.8, 2.9 litre
Performance: 2.4 D5 top speed 130mph 0-60mph 9.8 seconds
Economy: 46.3mpg
Safety: NCAP, four stars

When's it going?

The Volvo S80 has just gone on sale. It looks similar to the old one on the outside, but the lines have been smoothed off, while inside there are noticeable quality upgrades and a redesigned dashboard. Oh yes, and there are two-year servicing intervals, but hey, what's wrong with the old one?

What's good about it?

You can sum up the S80 in just a few words: space, comfort and safety. Those are the key ingredients that any executive car should have, and the S80 has all that by the bucketload.

Overall, the S80 is built for comfort rather than speed. Probably the best engine is the 2.4 170bhp petrol unit, which is smooth, reasonably strong and refined, while the economical option would be the D5, which is equally smooth and lively. Considering the size of the car, it moves along pretty well with these units, but the 2.9 T6 is the performance option, getting to 60mph in just over seven seconds.

Certainly, the S80 is tuned for comfort, with a soft ride and good levels of refinement. So, for long journeys, you couldn't find better. And there's more than enough equipment to keep driver and passengers amused as there are lots of option packs, plus all the important electrical devices are standard.

It's also practical because there's masses of room inside, plus a huge boot. Even the rear seat splits and folds, so there's plenty of luggage room. You could use the S80 just like a van because the build quality is so impressive and it would never fall apart. Indeed, if you were unlucky enough to have an accident, the amount of crash protection, from intelligent airbags to traction control, help to make this one of the safest cars on the road.

What's bad about it?

Because the S80 is tuned for comfort, it suffers in the handling department. So anyone expecting BMW 5 Series-like handling would be disappointed. That's a minor point, really, as the very worst thing you can ever do is buy an S80 brand new. The depreciation is horrendous. In just three years, an owner will lose more than 60 per cent, so don't buy new or keep it forever (and being a S80, it will probably last that long).

How much?

It has never been too difficult to get a discount of at least £2,000-£3,000 on an S80 from brokers and dealers. Not a popular model at car supermarkets, it is the Volvo main agents who tend to have the low-mile examples. SNW, in Belfast (028 90686000), for example, had a D5 SE, which would normally have cost £25,538, at just £20,995, and with every conceivable extra.

Any snags?

Because it is a big car, it is suspension and steering that need replacement. Electronically, the control units often go on the blink. Because the S80 has so many extras, you must check they all work properly. Indeed, there have been recalls - 11 in all - that have affected the model, relating to electronics and, most seriously, collapsing suspension.

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