Electrics can misbehave.
The 480 is an interesting reliable car that is pleasant to own and drive and fairly cheap on the gas (currently averaging 40-42 mpg).
But don’t buy one thinking you are getting a sports car, or a classic. Despite its aerodynamic looks and light weight (it has a better power/weight ratio than a Porsche 912) it just doesn’t have the mojo. The interior is dull and plasticky, pure 1980s Volvo. The 2-litre Renault engine pulls okay but is nothing inspiring. The handling is front-heavy and vague, the gearbox is obviously filled up with glue at the factory, while the clutch feels like you are flushing an old-fashioned loo. The best thing about the ride is that it is very grippy on the corners, which means it can be driven surprisingly fast on the twisties.
On the upside the Celebration model is well equipped (mine has air-con, full black leather, airbag, power steering, and some kind of traction control thing, but no sunroof although that doesn’t matter too much since the 480 sunroof is a bit useless as it does not slide back). The info centre has loads of gizmos and although it is said to be unreliable mine works fine. On the downside the seating is cramped for someone 6.1 (although headroom is just okay) and whoever said the seats are comfy must have an iron backside. Certainly not comfortable to get into and out of. Visibility is fair.
The electrics can act strangely. Example: the pop up headlights may suddenly start popping up unbidden. And then they won’t pop up at all. On the other hand if you just ignore the problem it will often sort itself out. Giving the dashboard a sharp blow can also help.
Over all and considering it is a Volvo, the car feels flimsy, especially the switchgear. But then I am used to the family Audi, which is almost the same age but light years ahead in build and materials quality. All the same, nothing has gone wrong with it yet, and at £850 (plus £240 for a service – tracking, brake overhaul and two new tyres) for a two-owner 54000 mile car with full history, no rust, and a moderate amount of grin factor, who is complaining? Not an investment, but definitely a bargain.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 30th July, 2008