Volvo may have throttled back on plans for a high-performance R range, but that does not signal the end of super quick cars from the Swedish company.
There's still a market for hot Volvos, according to German tuner HEICO SPORTIV - and it's set to prove it with a line-up of models, starting with this S80 High Performance Concept (HPC).
It was developed fpr the Speciality Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas last November, and is the first Volvo-approved car from a tuner. So, can it rival Audi's S6 quattro? We took the four-wheel-drive HPC around Germany's Nürburgring circuit to fin out.
Aside from using a new chip and larger intercooler to extract 350bhp from the 3.0-litre turbo engine, HEICO has focused on making the electronics talk to the 4WD system - itself controlled by Volvo's sophisticated Four-C adaptive traction control set-up.
There is also fresh damong and suspension that's 40mm lower than the standard car's. Bespoke 20-inch rims, a subtly aggressicebodykit and LED running lights create real visual drama, while seven coats of paint give a polished chrome look. Deep blue leather features throughout the cabin, while the centre console has chrome-effect carbon fibre trim, an extends into the rear. But the confortable seats and widely adjustable driving position make the car feel more refined than sporty.
This is reinforced on the road. Although body roll is reduced and four-wheel-drive traction is excellent, the steering seems lifeless. HEICO has not touched the auto box, which is a shame. In auto mode, the set-up changes up too quickly to fully access the extra torque. And in manual, there are no paddles to make things feel sportier.
Still, performance at the track is incredibly muscular with a 0-60mph time of less than six seconds. Acceleration carries on unabated until you are well into three figures. The racing brakes are also excellent. They pulled the car up from 100mph-plus consistently and without a hint of fade during the entire day of our drive.
Ultimately, the S80 HPC isn't quite a match for the likes of the S6. But it shows that there is plenty if potential for fast Volvos in the future.