The 2013 Volvo S80 can be equipped, in T6 versions, with the same 300-horsepower, 3.0-liter turbocharged in-line six-cylinder engine that's under the hood of the S60 T6 sport sedan. It definitely feels a little more under the reins in the S80; but at the same time, the S80 is a respectable performer up against luxury sedans its own size.
That said, the S80 can move quickly, and safely carve its way along canyon roads quite rapidly; but it's never all that much fun from behind the wheel. The S80's dull steering feel is part of the problem, but there's also the ever-present feeling that this is a big, heavy front-wheel-drive (or in T6 form, all-wheel-drive) sedan. With the T6, you also get an active suspension system with Comfort, Sport, and Advanced modes; it's a pretty sophisticated system and ties in with the variable-assist power steering, which varies its assist from quite light to very firm. Again, it all feels very artificial, though.
The all-wheel drive system that's offered in the S80 can send up to 50 percent to the rear wheels when needed, but it's more a system for inclement weather than it is one for high-performance driving.
On base models, you instead get a 240-hp straight-six and front-wheel drive. This is a combination we actually like for its straightforward presentation as a well-equipped luxury car; and as that, it's surprisingly nimble, maneuverable, and economical.
In any of its forms, what the S80 really does well—even against recently updated models like the BMW 5-Series or Audi A6—is on the open road. With a ride that's firm yet comfortable, a very quiet interior, superb seats, and a combination of confident tracking and strong passing power, and the S80 is the way to do long road trips in style.