Aside from the strong-selling XC90, Volvo has been struggling to trouble the scorer in Australia these days. But that does not mean that the Ford-owned Swedish brand does not have some worthy cars in its model line-up. Any and all of its T-designated models, 'T' signifying 'turbo', are satisfying and swift drives; the svelte C30 T5 and punchy S40 T5 in particular.
Now, adding an extra shaft to its performance armoury, Volvo has announced the introduction of a compact, turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder T6 engine to the S80 range, the new S80 T6 AWD, joining the grunt-filled S80 V8 AWD and diesel S80 D5.
While the S80 V8's 4.4-litre all-alloy bent-vee pumps out 232 kW and 440 Nm, the new S80 T6 produces a hefty 210 kW and 400 Nm of torque. This compares with the front-wheel-drive only D5's 2.4-litre turbo-diesel which develops 136 kW and a matching 400 Nm of torque. Each in the S80 range promises swift, executive express touring.
The T6 engine features multi-valve cylinder heads with twin overhead camshafts, along with a twin-scroll turbocharger for lag-free turbo response (similar, Volvo claims, to a twin-turbo system).
Driving all four wheels through Volvo's six-speed auto, it's reportedly good for a 0-100 km/h dash in 6.9 seconds (we'll reserve judgment until TMR can put it through its paces).
Inside, it's all Scandinavian refinement and style with large, ergonomic seats (that, in addition to heating, can be specified with an optional ventilation system to also provide extra cooling to the pants region), new claret walnut wood trim, tyre pressure monitoring, an optional Rear Seat Entertainment System (RSE) with larger 8-inch screens on the back of the front-seat head restraints, and Volvo's trademark ? and very stylish - ultra-thin Floating Centre Console.
There is also (now) the obligatory Premium Sound system with a USB port enabling easy connection with an iPod, MP3 player, or even a digital camera. Bluetooth connectivity is standard on all models.
Another nifty touch with the new S80 is a unique feature that activates when the car is unlocked via the remote control: if the outdoor temperature exceeds 10 degrees Celsius, then the passenger compartment is automatically ventilated for around a minute.
Down below, the S80 is underpinned by an all-independent suspension system with MacPherson struts at the front and a multilink rear axle. T6 and V8 models also come with Volvo's electronically controlled FOUR-C Active Chassis, which 'reads' road surfaces and adapts instantly for precise, accurate handling and a smooth, comfortable ride. It comes in three selectable settings: comfort, sport and advanced.
The Haldex all-wheel drive system, standard on T6 and V8 S80 models, employs an electronically controlled hydraulic clutch to constantly balance power bias between the front and rear wheels for optimal road-holding whatever the road-surface conditions. When starting on slippery or loose surfaces, the AWD sets the bias to the rear wheels. Dynamic Stability and yaw-sensing Traction Control (DSTC) is standard across the S80 range.
Being a Volvo, there is also the obligatory barrow-load of safety features: Side Impact Protection System (SIPS), Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), dual-stage front airbags, seat-mounted side airbags, inflatable curtain airbags and emergency flashing brake lights. In the other barrow ("too much safety is never enough Stefan") is Volvo's Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), which advises the driver if another vehicle is travelling behind the B-pillar (or in the 'blind spot') along with Lane Departure Warning (LDW), and a driver fatigue monitoring system called Driver Alert Control (DAC) ? some standard, some need to be specified.
Completing the sporting look, the 2009 S80 range also comes with a wide range of wheel choices (including new "Cassini" 17-inch alloys), active bi-Xenon headlights with washer function as well as Home Safe and Approach lighting systems.
Hmm. Certainly worth a look.
S80 D5 FWD $72,950
S80 T6 AWD $78,950
S80 V8 AWD $98,950