2014 Volvo S80 T6 Inscription review: With around to it

2014 Volvo S80 T6 Inscription

2014 Volvo S80 T6 Inscription

The Volvo S80 is Volvo’s premier sedan and unfortunately, thanks to the more pressing needs in the sport-utility/crossover models and the higher-volume S60, the Volvo S80 has languished, not forgotten but rather, well, how do you say “we’ll get around to you later” in Swedish?

Well, they finally got around to it, sorta. The current Volvo S80 is the second generation of the model, the first coming on line as a 1999 model, then replaced in 2007 with a car that, even though it looked pretty much the same, was built on a new chassis. It also received a muscle infusion in the form of a V-8 engine, mounted transversely of all things, and with all-wheel drive mandatory, especially considering the car is nominally front-wheel drive.

But since 2007, the car has been largely untouched, save the 2011 model year elimination of the V-8 with, at least in the U.S., a choice of two powerplants, a naturally-aspirated 3.2-liter inline-six mounted transversely, and a 3.0-liter inline-six, ditto on the orientation.

2014 Volvo S80 T6 Inscription sill plate

The 2014 Volvo S80 T6 Inscription sill plate reminds buyers what they paid the extra money for. (click to enlarge)

Now it’s the 2014 model year, and in a timespan that often sees another car company introducing an all-new model, Volvo brings a facelift for the S80. Not that we’re complaining. The freshening of the Volvo S80’s face is well done. Most obvious to S80 owners will be the larger Volvo logo—actually the alchemy symbol for iron—and a new grille pattern, plus new front and rear bumpers intended to give the front and rear a longer look. And speaking of the rear, the S80 is continues its “chair” design taillights, though with LED illumination. The headlight cluster has been changed as well, now with LED daytime running lights. Overall, it’s an older design on a reserved theme, but it’s held up well.

The interior has received a going over, with such things as a new steering wheel—heated, with the Climate Package that also includes a microwire windshield deicer—and shifter knob, but the niftiest new item is the instrument panel. A new adaptive digital electronic Thin Film Transistor (TFT) display instrument cluster includes a large central ring with smaller TFT panels just to the outside. The instrument panel has three modes, Elegance, which is fairly conventional with a large central speedometer. In Eco mode, the background color changes to green and a TFT panels with a gauge that shows energy use.

2014 Volvo S80 T6 Inscription dash

The 2014 Volvo S80 T6 Inscription dash shows the instrument panel in “Elegance” mode. (click to enlarge)

The Performance mode for the instrument panel is our preference. For Performance, the background color changes to an intense red and more importantly, the video image of the speedometer changes to a tachometer with a large digital speedometer in its face. Off to the right side is a gauge that indicates how much of engine’s performance is being used at any moment. We kept the gauges in Performance, mainly because we like a big central tachometer and the digital speed was easy to read.

Naturally, the Volvo S80 is very comfortable, whichever mode the instrument panel is in. Note that it’s only the colors and layout of the instrument that changes. Changing modes had no effect on chassis or engine. The seats, however, follow in Volvo’s tradition of orthopedically-designed seating and are up for all-day driving. Our test 2014 Volvo S80 T6 AWD was equipped with the top-level Platinum trim with the Inscription Package. The latter, in addition to having “INSCRIPTION” on the door sills, is wrapped in premium Sovereign leather on the seats, front console cover and the entire dash, all neatly stitched and the seats trimmed with tidy white piping. It feels as good as it looks.

The 2014 Volvo S80 T6 AWD gets its name from the turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine under its hood.  The standard engine in the entry-level Volvo S80 is not turbocharged, so it just falls back on displacement for its designation. Hence the S80 3.2 moniker.

The naturally-aspirated 3.2-liter six is rated at 240 horsepower and comes only with front-wheel drive. Like the expired V-8, the turbocharged S80 T6 is available only with all-wheel drive, necessary because the turbo three-liter’s 300 horsepower would be handful  with just front-wheel drive. The all-wheel drive eliminates the torque steer. Those 300 horses, however, give the S80 T6 a 0-60 mph time of 6.0 seconds, according to Volvo, almost a second and a half quicker than its naturally-aspirated sibling.

2014 Volvo S80 T6 Inscription center stack

The dash on the 2014 Volvo S80 T6 Inscription dash is leather-covered, the center stack still awash in buttons but now easier to use. (click to enlarge)

It also raises the base price of the 2014 Volvo S80 from $39,900 for the 3.2 to $43,950. However, if you’re in the financial neighborhood, it’s probably worth the jump, especially if your geographic neighborhood is anywhere in the snowbelt.

Of course, it’s easy to bump those prices up. Our test 2014 Volvo S80 T6 AWD had a bottom line of $55,765 after adding the Platinum package, the Climate Package, the Technology Package and the Inscription Package. Naturally, with accessories—wheels and such—the price could go even higher, but our test car could be considered fully loaded.

Volvo has always been a leader in safety, and it stays out front with “Cyclist Detection to Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake.” We refrained from testing the autobrake that below about 25 mph can stop a Volvo completely before hitting a pedestrian or now a cyclist. It would probably be rude to do so to a stranger, and if we tried it on a friend, they’d probably become a stranger. Anyway,  we’ve experienced it in controlled situations with the S60, and it does indeed work, or at least from higher speeds, decreases impact speed.