1993 Volvo 480 S 1.7 from UK and Ireland
Different and reliable, but quirky
Several annoying electrical glitches: Petrol / Temp. gauges are erratic in operation or don't operate at all, Rev. counter usually inoperative, heated seats don't work, Electric sunroof inoperative.
The car also had the 'standard' 480 leak in the boot area. Despite being advised that it was the result of x, y, and z, it turned out to be the boot-seal that needed replacing.
I love the 480, it's one of those cars really... if anything happened to it I would be gutted (and actively seeking out another!). Sure, the electrics are lousy, but mechanically the car has been bullet proof. While I've only done 11,000 miles in it, I have done the guts of 80,000 in my 440, which has the same engine, and again no problems.
The 480 is an oddball - I wouldn't say it's a case of 'love it or hate it', because most people either love it... or are curious! I keep having people walk around the car on garage forecourts looking to see the badge... it generates a lot of interest wherever I go in it: The "what the heck is that?" factor.
The roadholding is excellent. It tends to wallow and bounce a bit over bumps, but on winding road it really is fun! The performance is not exactly breathtaking: it's not useless either. The engine is 'revvy' and perky, but it's no hotrod. It's more like a Grand Tourer that's been compacted in my opinion.
The seats are a joy to experience on a long journey: back fatigue is minimal. Whatever way Volvo make seats, they got it right. The dealers are a bit 'hit or miss' here: they seem to range from extremely discourteous to excellent, with little 'in-between'. The parts are quite reasonably priced.
A new boot seal cost me 52 euro. On the other hand, the rear lights (which tend to fade) are really expensive. This is common to all makers really I think: for example, some Rolls - Royce parts are cheaper than BMW. All makers do some parts cheap, others are expensive. Overall, Volvo parts are 'reasonable'.
I would advise anyone who hasn't taken the plunge yet to do it: just beware of badly 'modded' or rusted - out rubbish. Get one if you can, before they all disappear off the roads (they are a much less common sight now than they were in 2001 when I bought mine).
In conclusion, exotic (if not sexy!) image, thrills and reliability - not to mention italianate styling from the Dutch. All this can be had for a relatively modest outlay, and mechanically the 480's are standard enough that you won't end up with an expensive nightmare if things go wrong. A unique car, Volvo's first real design statement in ages, and in the end that will only make the car more and more interesting.
The 480 has transcended the 'Old' to 'Old and interesting' divide. It's on a collectible upward 'swing'. That's why I bought another 'S' and a 'Turbo' last summer, to join my pristine 1993 480s!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 21st April, 2008