Volvo 850 Celebrates Its 25th Birthday
The model that aimed for the stars: the Volvo 850 celebrates its 25th birthday.
The Volvo 850 was the car that changed everything – a front-wheel drive Volvo with a 5-cylinder transverse engine. It was the result of the Galaxy project, which got its name because it was aiming for the stars. The 850 series achieved great success in the field of motorsport, and was the first car from Volvo available with AWD.
The brand new Volvo 850 GLT had its world premiere in the Stockholm Globe Arena on June 11 in 1991. The model was the result of one of Sweden's largest industrial investments and differed fundamentally from previous Volvo designs. It had front-wheel drive, a five-cylinder transverse engine and offered a whole new level of driving pleasure.
The new car was launched under the banner "A dynamic car with four world-firsts". These new features were the transverse 5-cylinder engine, the Delta-link rear axle designed in-house, the integrated side-impact protection system, SIPS, and the self-adjusting front seat belt.
Even though the design was reminiscent of the 700 series, the 850 was a completely new car. The work on developing the model began back in 1978. At a meeting held that year, it was decided that it was now time to think freely and aim for the stars. That's why the project was christened Galaxy.
Project Galaxy resulted in two model series – one Swedish and one Dutch. The underlying technology was developed jointly, after this the teams split up. The Dutch company Volvo Car B.V went on to develop what would become the 400 series, while Volvo Cars in Sweden developed the 850 series.
The first model to be presented was the 850 GLT, with its 20-valve normally aspirated engine producing 170 hp. During the development phase, Volvo worked actively to make the 850 GLT a lively car that delivered great driving pleasure while achieving the correct intake and exhaust noise.
The next important 850 version was presented in February 1993 – the estate car. It boasted typical Volvo features such as the abruptly-ending rear section for maximum load capacity. One new design feature, however, was the extended vertical tail lights that covered the entire D-post. During the development work, Chief Designer Jan Wilsgaard had a model on which the large tail lights could be removed and replaced for comparison. The estate version was subsequently awarded the prestigious Japanese distinction “1994 Good Design Grand Prize” as well as the Italian “Most beautiful estate”
The 850 series was soon expanded with various engine options. The model that would achieve most attention was presented at the Geneva Motor Show in 1994. With its distinctive yellow color, the T-5R really stood out like an exclamation mark on wheels. This special model was intended to be manufactured in a run of 2,500 cars. The turbo-charged engine with intercooler produced 240 hp and a torque of 330 Nm. The equipment on the car included special spoilers, a square exhaust pipe and 17” alloy rims going by the name Titan. The yellow cars sold out in a couple of weeks, and so the same number of black cars were produced, finally followed by a run of 2,500 dark green T-5Rs.
1994 was also the year when Volvo returned to the racetrack – and did so in an extremely eye-catching way. When two 850s drove up to the starting line for the season premiere at the Thruxton track in southern England, they were in the estate version! Competing with a “van” in Europe’s most prestigious standard car series, the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC), attracted an enormous amount of attention. Volvo invested heavily alongside Tom Walkinshaw Racing, with the two cars being driven by the Swede Rickard Rydell and the Dutch driver Jan Lammers. In 1995, estate cars were practically made illegal by rule changes and Volvo switched to the saloon model. That season Rickard Rydell came in third place overall in the championship.
Right from the outset, the press called the Volvo 850 “the world’s safest car”, and in 1995 it introduced another world first in terms of safety. At this point, the Volvo 850 became the first mass-produced car to come with side-impact airbags.
The 850 AWD – the company's first four-wheel drive car that was launched in 1996 – was a pioneer for Volvo. The 850 All Wheel Drive had four-wheel drive engaged at all times – a viscous coupling automatically distributed the power between the front and rear wheels. If one of the rear wheels started to spin, the electronic TRACS anti-spin system automatically distributed the power between the front wheels to the one with the best grip. The 850 AWD was powered by a newly developed engine with light pressure turbo boost producing 193 hp, and was a predecessor to Volvo's four-wheel drive XC models.
1996 was the final year the 850 was in production. When the models underwent a major upgrade in 1997, the designations were changed to S70 for the saloon models and V70 for the estate version. A total of 1,360,522 cars were built in model versions originating from the 850 series.
Volvo XC90 Named Game-Changer at 2016 Autocar Awards
Seven-seat XC90 SUV praised for 'transforming Volvo's standing'
Honoured for combining cutting-edge technology with comfort, practicality and desirability
Tablet-style infotainment system and ground-breaking safety aids standard on every XC90
Priced from £46,850 and offered with diesel, petrol and innovative plug-in hybrid powertrains
The Volvo XC90 has been named an Autocar Game-Changer at the 2016 Autocar Awards.
Autocar's Game-Changers are those cars that have done the most to move the car industry, or their makers, forwards in the past year – and the XC90 has certainly done that. Built on Volvo's all-new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform, the XC90 was the first evidence of the Swedish brand's global transformation. Combining Volvo's world-renowned safety, comfort and practicality credentials, it also moves the game on in terms of connectivity and its range of powerful yet efficient Drive-E powertrains.
Commenting on the award, Autocar's editorial director, Jim Holder, said: "The XC90 has transformed the standing of Volvo in the most striking fashion, combining practicality, comfort and cutting-edge technology in a hugely desirable package."
That cutting-edge technology includes the nine-inch Sensus touch screen control system. This is no ordinary touch screen, however: not only does it include pinch, zoom and swipe functionality – unlike many rival systems – it even works when you're wearing gloves. It provides access to the internet and a range of cloud-based apps and internet radio stations, too.
The Drive-E powertrains also showcase the future of Volvo's engines. The XC90's four-cylinder, 2.0-litre units use sophisticated fueling and boosting technologies to combine efficiency with power. The D5 diesel engine benefits from an innovative solution to increase responsiveness at low revs. Called PowerPulse, it uses compressed air to spool up the turbocharger when it would otherwise be inactive, which helps give the XC90 impressively strong performance from a standing start. The T8 Twin Engine petrol-electric hybrid, on the other hand, combines a total of 407 hp with CO2 emissions of just 49 g/km. It can also travel for up to 27 miles in zero-emission electric-only mode.
Naturally, safety is at the forefront of any Volvo, and the XC90 includes two world-first safety aids: automatic emergency braking at a junction, which will apply the brakes for you if you inadvertently turn into the path of an oncoming vehicle, and run-off road protection, which includes a collapsible section in the front seats to reduce the likelihood of spinal injuries if the car leaves the road.
Nick Connor, Managing Director of Volvo Car UK, said: "We're delighted that the XC90 has been recognized as such a transformative model by Autocar. We're immensely proud of the car and what it heralds for Volvo – both in terms of our new-found style and desirability, but also that it is the first in an entirely new product range due in the next few years. Volvo is on a roll at the moment, and this hon our for the XC90 is yet more proof that our transformation is well on track."
Volvo Cars Unveils 40 Series Concept Cars
Volvo Cars, the premium car maker, today unveiled two new concept cars that move the Swedish brand in an audacious new direction and mark the official launch of its global small car strategy.
Today’s newly-revealed 40 series concepts demonstrate for the first time how Volvo plans to expand into the large and lucrative global market for premium small cars with a range of vehicles that combine bold exterior and interior design with industry-leading connectivity, electrification and autonomous drive technologies.
The new concept cars will be the first built around Volvo’s new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), which has been specially created for smaller cars and which has liberated the company’s designers and engineers to explore bold and daring new directions.
“Each member of our product family has its own distinct character, just like the members of a real family. CMA has helped us to capture something special, something youthful in our new concept cars. They have an energy, a disruptive and engaging urban character that makes them stand out amongst the crowd. This is the flavor of small Volvos to come,” said Thomas Ingenlath, Senior Vice President, Design, at Volvo Car Group.
Volvo’s small car strategy is an essential element in its ongoing global operational and financial transformation. The Swedish company is currently implementing an ambitious revitalization plan that will reposition the brand to compete with its global premium competitors within the next four years.
Volvo’s new global small car range will include a pure battery electric vehicle as well as Twin Engine plug-in hybrid powertrain variants, in line with the company’s commitment to the electrification of its entire portfolio. Volvo plans to have sold a total of up to 1 million electrified cars by 2025 globally.
“By taking a modular approach to both vehicle architecture and powertrain development we have succeeded in leap-frogging many of the players in the premium segment,” said Dr Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research & Development. “Our new battery electric powertrain variant opens yet another exciting chapter in the unfolding Volvo story.”
On top of their daring exterior design and electrified powertrain options, the new cars will also offer a full range of innovative connectivity services, plus the world’s most advanced standard package of safety features and ground breaking Scandinavian interior design.
“The new 40 series cars have the potential to improve our market penetration in an important growing segment,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive. “An electric powertrain program including both a new compact Twin Engine plug-in hybrid as well as a pure electric car are central to the CMA architecture.” He added that the first new 40 series car is expected to go into production in 2017.
The announcement of Volvo’s new global small car strategy comes on the back of a strong start to the year in terms of sales and profitability.
The company announced revenues for the first three months of the year rose 24 per cent year-on-year to SEK41.7bn, generating an operating profit of SEK3.1bn and an operating profit margin of 7.5 per cent. Global sales for the first quarter of 2016 increased 11.9 per cent to 120, 591 cars. Volvo has a medium term ambition to sell 800,000 cars a year, up from 503,000 in 2015.