The Volvo 480 is a car with an unusual 4 seat, 3-door hatchback body, somewhere between liftback and estate in form, though marketed as a coupé. It was the first front-wheel drive car made by Volvo Cars and the only production Volvo to feature pop-up headlamps.
Press launch was on October 15 1985, but the 480 was first put on show at Geneva in 1986, becoming available to the public in 1987. It was produced in Born, Netherlands at the factory which built DAF cars, including the DAF 66-based Volvo 66 and later Volvo 300 Series. The platform that was also used in the Volvo 440 and 460. It was originally planned for the North American market (as can be evidenced by its US-spec front and rear side markers, not used on European automobiles), but took some time before it was sold in the U.S due to unfavourable currency exchange rates. The 480 was the first Volvo of its sport back style since the Volvo P1800, and the last until the unveiling of the Volvo C30. All of these models featured a distinctive frameless glass hatchback which has become something of a trademark for such Volvo coupés.
The concept was to design a sporty, luxury front-wheel drive car with advanced electronics. Unfortunately, the necessary technology was still in its infancy, and in the early days due to funding, the 480 suffered electrical problems. Revisions in the early-1990s saw improved reliability. Offsetting these problems, the car had excellent handling, due in no small part to its Lotus-designed suspension, and a series of reliable Renault engines, tuned by Porsche. It was also Volvo's first front wheel drive model.
In 1988, a Turbo version was introduced, the Garrett AiResearch turbocharger increasing the power from 109 PS (80 kW; 108 hp) to 120 PS (88 kW; 118 hp). Maximum torque was 175 N·m (129 lb·ft) instead of 140 N·m (103 lb·ft) for the naturally-aspirated 1.7 L engine. In 1993 (UK), due to new legislation which meant that catalytic converters had to be fitted to unl...