Volvo 850 is First Produced
The Volvo 850 is a compact executive car produced by Volvo Cars from 1992 to 1997 and designed by Jan Wilsgaard.
Available in sedan/saloon and station wagon/estate body styles, the Volvo 850 was notable as the first front-wheel drive vehicle from this Swedish manufacturer to be exported to North America. It is often considered the vehicle that gave Volvo its reputation as a high-end auto maker in North America due to the level of features available in this model that were not offered in previous models. At the time of its development, the 850 was regarded as one of the largest engineering endeavours in Sweden.
The Volvo 850 was introduced worldwide as a 1992 model, but arrived in the U.S. in the 1993 model year. It was sold as a sedan with a wagon model on sale from 1992 in Europe. The 850 was the first Volvo model in the U.S. to feature front-wheel drive and an all-aluminum 20-valve five-cylinder engine. The 850 was Volvo's top-seller in the mid-1990s. In markets outside the U.S. a 10-valve variant of the five-cylinder was popular for its lower cost and better fuel economy.
All U.S. 850s received standard equipment such as dual front airbags, antilock brakes, head restraints and three-point seat belts for all passengers, power windows, door locks, and mirrors, cruise control, and dual zone climate control. Side torso airbags became a world first when introduced as an option for 1995. Some other options during the model run included features such as traction control, leather interior, power glass moonroof, power seats, heated seats, remote keyless entry, automatic climate control, and automatic transmission.
The 850 sedan features an interior space of 2.80 m³ (99 cubic ft). This is slightly more than the 2.78 m³ (98 cubic ft) of the 2004 Mercedes-Benz E-Class even though the car is reasonably compact on the outside. This space is achieved by mounting the in-line 5-cylinder engine transversely (from the left to the right of the car) under the hood. The road-holding and handling are vastly improved over the previous rear-wheel drive Volvos.
The 850 Turbo Wagon is one of the fastest production station wagons in the world, capable of 250+ km/h (160+ mph) when ungoverned. Production models of the wagon and sedan are electronically governed to approximately 142 mph (229 km/h). In 1996 a "Platinum" edition of the 850 Turbo was available. The exterior paint for these models came in a metallic pearl platinum-color and had special 16-inch (410 mm) alloy wheels. The interior was fitted with leather seats and burled walnut accents. Only 1500 of these were imported for the U.S. market.
For the last model year (1996/1997) 850 was available also with 5-cylinder Volkswagen/Audi turbodiesel engine (D5252T) with 140 bhp (104 kW; 142 PS). As well AWD (All Wheel Drive) model was introduced with a new 193 bhp (144 kW; 196 PS) low pressure turbo 2.4 litre engine (B5254T).
In 1998, the model line was updated, and renamed the Volvo S70 (sedan) and Volvo V70 (station wagon). These vehicles were sold in the U.S. through the 2000 model year when there were still many 850's waiting to be sold. This allowed for an alternatively designed vehicle; the 2001 Volvo S60 and Volvo V70, during the 850's production hiatus.
For the 850, Volvo created what it called "Delta-link semi-independent rear suspension". Volvo held a U.S. patent for rear axle bushings that compress under load, giving the Volvo 850 passive rear steering. The automobile also has a tight turning circle, 10.2 m (33.5 ft), and is considered very maneuverable. By comparison, later large Volvos had a 11.9 m (39.0 ft) turning circle.
Legendary Australian race driver Peter Brock drove a Volvo 850 touring car in a one-off Bathurst 12-hour endurance event in 1994, and drove the car in the 1996 Australian Super Touring Championship. Volvo joined forces with the famous and very successful Tom Walkinshaw Racing team (TWR) in 1994 to build an 850 Estate touring car to compete in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC). Despite much criticism, the 850 Estate performed well, with a best placed finish of fifth, and a best qualifying spot of third. It was driven by Rickard Rydell and Jan Lammers and Volvo finished sixth in manufacturers' standings in the 1994 season. In 1995, TWR and Volvo built the 850 Saloon BTCC Racer and this won five races, qualified on pole position 13 times with Rickard Rydell and Tim Harvey and finished third in the championship. The switch was due mainly to the change in BTCC regulations which allowed aerodynamic aids (spoilers) which effectively ended any chance of the Estate being fully competitive. In 1996, an improved 850 saloon raced which boasted eight wins with Rickard Rydell and Kelvin Burt and finished third in the championship. Volvo were also prevalent with the 850 in championships across Europe and in Australia.
In 1995 a special limited edition race-bred model was released as the 850 T-5R. The vehicle was based upon the 850 Turbo with the B5234T5 engine with a special ECU known as the Bosch #628 ECU, that added 3 psi (21 kPa) to turbocharger boost pressure, giving the engine an additional 18 horsepower (13 kW).
The 1995 850 T-5R was limited in exterior paint color choices:
cream yellow - 2500 worldwide including sedan and station wagon, 185 to US market
black - 2500 worldwide including sedan and station wagon, 1,815 to US market
emerald green metallic - 500 worldwide including sedan and station wagon
Also included in the 1995 T-5R package is a front bumper with a lip, polished aluminum door sills, special leather and Alcantara (the fire-retardant version of Toray Industries' Ultrasuede (tm)) seats in dark grey, and a two-tone interior with deep birch wood grain accents. The T-5R had an additional badge to the left of the "850" on the trunk, referred to as "The Motorsport badge". Aftermarket Motorsport badges are available and are often added by owners but only the 1995 T-5R came standard with that badge. The standard wheels were the 5-spoke 17×7 "Titan". 1995 was the only year that the race-bred model was badged as a "T-5R". All subsequent models are badged with just the simple addition of "R". Example: 1995 850 T-5R, 1996 850R, 2004 S60R, etc.
For the Italian market, the T-5R was based on the 2.0 litre 850 Turbo. The transmission was the standard AW/50-42 used in all U.S. 850's, the M56H being available in other countries.
The 1996 and 1997 (the final year of the 850) R models were not as limited in production as the T-5R was. Some sources[who?] stated about 9,000 R produced. Flame red, black, anthracite grey, olive green metallic, turquoise and white were the only color choices. In the US market only Red, White and Black were available. Also, a new rear spoiler was introduced on sedans. The interior was still two-tone but the layout changed — in 1995 the leather was in the center of the seats — later models had it on the outside bolster portion. The standard wheels used in these model years were the 17×7 "Volans". For 1996, Volvo introduced a new manual transmission outside the US market, called the M59, that came standard with a Torsen differential. Furthermore, the M59 cars were equipped with a slightly larger turbocharger, the TD04H-16T, and upgraded software enabling these cars to produce 250 hp (190 kW) versus 240 hp (180 kW) for the automatic transmission equipped cars. Torque was also significantly increased in the manual models from 300 N·m (220 lb·ft) to 350 N·m (260 lb·ft).
Volvo replaced its 700-series with the all-new 850 GLT sedan. The new 850 broke new ground by being Volvo's first U.S. front-wheel-drive model, as well as the first ever to feature a 5-cylinder engine. Under the hood of both the base and GLT trim levels, Volvo provided the 850 with a dual-overhead-cam, 20-valve, 168-horsepower 2.4-liter 5-cylinder engine. Five-speed manual was standard; 4-speed automatic optional. Driver- and passenger-side airbags were standard, as were 4-wheel antilock disc brakes. Traction control was an option.
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