The S-80 is the newest edition to the Volvo line up. The S-80 was introduced in 1999 as the flagship of the redesigned Volvo line. Many Americans think that the 40 series (V-40 and S-40) are newer cars, but the 40s have been produced for those lucky Europeans for many years. Anyway, the S-80 is competition for Mercedes, Audi and the BMW 700 series. The S-80 is equipped with all the toys, everything from remote activated approach lights (turns on the parking lights and ground illumination under the mirrors) to ass heaters. The interior is leather and wood with a tasteful use of plastics. Both the front windows are one-touch up and down, as in the moon roof which slides and tilts.

But enough with the details on to the good stuff! The S-80 is available with two different engines. The basic one is the 2.9 (liter), an inline transversely mounted six-cylinder engine. This is the model I drove, and I can say that it really likes to run. This model is priced as a comparatively low $36,395 and produces 201 horse power.

However if you feel the need to race, I would recommend the T6. The T6 is the standard engine with a twist, two small turbochargers. This revolutionary design results in quicker acceleration than would be accomplished by a single large turbo. The T6 really makes the S-80 a pocket rocket. The T6 runs about $40,960 and cranks out a wailing 268 horses. Part of the T6 package is Volvo's geartronic, which is a hybrid between a clutch and an automatic transmission. It allows the driver to shift gears without a clutch while maintaining more control than with a true automatic. The Geartronic system is similar to Porsche's Triptronic and Chrysler's AutoStick.

Both the 2.9 and the T6 have dual overhead cams and four valves per cylinder. All this in addition to a 0.28 drag coefficient (almost the lowest for a production car) makes the S-80 a car that loves to fly. (I should know, my mom got her first speeding ticket in her new S-80 with the 2.9).

But the S-80 is a Volvo, so the real emphasis is on safety. The car comes equipped with the new "WHIPS" system, which reduces the risk of spinal and cranial injury when the car is rear-ended. Another first is the Inflatable Curtain. This is a new type of air-bag that deploys as a curtain of inflated tubes between the occupants and the side windows creating a protective layer between the windows and your fragile little head. These two systems in addition to Volvo's construction of the frame, body and protective "cage" and the usual two-stage airbags make the S-80 one of the safest cars on the road.

I think Ferris said it best: "It is so choice, if you have the means I highly recommend picking one up."

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