First launched in 1998 the Volvo S80 represented the first time that Volvo had launched a top of the range saloon with no estate alternative. The car received a lot of positive press at launch for its refinement comfort and safety features. It came with a 2.4-litre 5-cylinder petrol engine in 140 and 170bhp forms, a 2.9-litre six, a 2.8 turbo T6 and finally a 2.4 turbo diesel. Originally there was only standard or SE trim but an S version was introduced in 2000 for all except the T6 models the standard trim later being dropped. An 'Executive' model was introduced for 2001.
2006 saw the arrival of an all new model with three petrol and two diesel options. Four-wheel drive was available on the top 4.4-litre petrol cars and from 2007 on the 2.4 D5 diesel too. A facelift in 2009 saw some minor changes including a more imposing grille and some interior upgrades. This also saw the introduction of the entry level 1.6 DRIVe diesel model aimed at economy conscious owners and fleet managers.
In 2010 the economical D3 2.0-litre diesel was introduced along with a 179bhp 2.0-litre T4 petrol engine.
Bang for your buck
The used S80 is a big Volvo for which you needn't apologise. Naturally it's very safe with multiple airbags, whiplash protection and class-leading impact protection. The long wheelbase means there's plenty of space in the cabin and there are lots of neat touches like a phone speaker in the driver's headrest and remote controlled lights to help you find and leave the car after dark.
The Mk2 models are smarter with less frumpy styling and lots of neat detail touches. Again there's a spacious cabin with quality materials and carefully designed colour schemes, plus a massive 422-litre boot.
What you'll pay
The earliest cars are now slipping into sub-£1,000 territory but a 2005 Mk1 car with the 2.4T engine and an auto box will still command around £4,000. Early Mk2s start at around £6,000 for a 2.4 manual diesel. A 2010 D3 2.0-litre with Geartronic auto should go for about £12,500. Insurance groups range from 10 to 18, not bad for a car in this class.
What to check
Big Volvos can easily cope with high mileages so don't be put off by 100k or more especially on diesels. Older cars may well have seen life as minicabs though so it's worth inspecting the history. Timing belts on D5s need changing at 60,000 miles and on automatics check the oil cooler for leaks as it's mounted low down and can be damaged by speed humps. 5-cylinder petrol engines can suffer a misfire due to the perishing of the camshaft end seal. There have been several recalls over the car's life so check that the one you're looking at has had these done.
Volvo spares tend to be cheaper than the German brands. A clutch assembly will be about £190 and expect to pay £400 for a full exhaust. An alternator will be around £180 with £140 for a starter motor. Front brake pads will cost you £75 with £40 for the rears. A replacement headlamp will be about £240.
How it drives
Refinement and ride quality are outstanding and whilst you shouldn't expect a used Volvo S80 to handle like a BMW it's quite competent and not all that far behind, especially if it has the optional Lowered Dynamic Chassis. Petrol engines offer impressive performance, a 2.4T getting to 60mph in 6.9 seconds for example. Diesels are more leisurely, the 1.6 DRIVe taking 11.7 seconds to 60 but it has plenty of torque so it won't feel too stressed. A 2.0-litre D3 feels livelier with 0-60 in 9.2, not far behind the 2.4 D5 and you should still manage close to 40mpg if driven reasonably gently.
Inside is where the Volvo really impresses, the quality of the fixtures and fittings is second to none. It all looks good, feels solid and has obviously had thought put into its design.
If you're after a big executive car but want to avoid the obvious German choices then the used Volvo S80 for sale is impressive. It's big, safe, comfortable, well made and offers good performance. At the same time the running costs won't break the bank and if you buy well it will give you good service for many years.