It’s difficult to sum up the Volvo S80 without stating that it’s a credible alternative to its German rivals. It’s priced keenly, comfortable and understated and the 1.6-litre DRIVe model is exceptionally cheap to run.

The D3 and D5 diesels are worthy options too, and there are few who would say the engines’ five-cylinder burble doesn’t appeal. But as refined and smooth as the petrol powerplants are, the performance they offer doesn’t warrant the running costs, particularly given the S80’s impressive ability to cover huge distances in a single sitting.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
Sometimes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. But not here.

However, it is still an alternative choice and has a long way to go before it is considered the default choice in this segment of the market.

The main problem is that while the chassis offers a decent level of entertainment, you need to put an awful lot in before you get something back, and in a class dominated by quality rear-drive saloons from Germany, that’s a shame.

Nevertheless, the S80 will have genuine appeal for buyers looking for a left-field choice that blends a fine interior and sublime cruising capability, particularly considering its potential as an executive car that’s within the grasp of business drivers. But now it has been superceded by the S90 is a suitable replacement, with its supreme motorway cruising ability still intact just in a more appealing wrapper.

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Volvo range

Driven this week

  • Volkswagen T-Roc 2019 road test review - hero front
    17 July 2019
    Car review
    Volkswagen arrives late at the crossover hatchback party. But can the T-Roc...
  • Audi S4 2019 first drive review - hero front
    16 July 2019
    First Drive
    S4 ditches petrol for a V6 TDI engine and mild-hybridisation. Just how...
  • Audi A4 2019 first drive review - hero front
    16 July 2019
    First Drive
    Tech upgrades give the A4’s cabin a welcome lift. Dynamically much the same...

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Volvo range

Driven this week

  • Volkswagen T-Roc 2019 road test review - hero front
    17 July 2019
    Car review
    Volkswagen arrives late at the crossover hatchback party. But can the T-Roc...
  • Audi S4 2019 first drive review - hero front
    16 July 2019
    First Drive
    S4 ditches petrol for a V6 TDI engine and mild-hybridisation. Just how...
  • Audi A4 2019 first drive review - hero front
    16 July 2019
    First Drive
    Tech upgrades give the A4’s cabin a welcome lift. Dynamically much the same...