Buyers shopping for a premium midsize sedan will find a genuine European flagship that exceeds the Mercedes-Benz E350 at most every turn – the 2012 Volvo S80 T6 AWD. Best of all, the S80 offers a pair of attributes that vault it miles ahead of the Mercedes: Class-leading safety and value.
No one can deny that the Mercedes-Benz E350 is a fine vehicle in this segment, but the 2012 Volvo S80 T6 AWD offers a level of understated opulence – in keeping with its Scandinavian design heritage – unique among premium European sedans. For buyers seeking the ultimate in luxury, the S80 (MSRP starting at $37,950) offers the new Inscription Package with features that rival the best the E350 has to offer while costing thousands less.
A quick comparison of window stickers reveals the immediate value advantage the S80 T6 AWD presents to discerning buyers. At an MSRP of just $41,950, the S80 T6 AWD costs far less than the base price of the E350, which is $50,490. And despite that cavernous divide in price, the Volvo manages to give you more on so many fronts including under the hood.
With an output rating of 300 hp, the turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder powerplant found in the S80 T6 AWD delivers comparable horsepower to the 302-hp 3.5-liter V6 in the E350. Both engines feature advanced technology including dual overhead cams and four valves per cylinder, but the inline-six in the Volvo offers more torque – 325 lb/ft to the 273 lb/ft in the E350 – and makes it available at a much lower rpm (2,100 rpm versus 3,500 rpm) for greater off-the-line response. To prove the point, the S80 T6 AWD outguns the E350, charging from zero-to-60 mph in 6.3 seconds, compared to 6.5 seconds for the Mercedes.
Another value advantage for the Volvo: The E350 requires Premium 91 octane Unleaded fuel; the S80 T6 AWD runs at peak performance using lower cost Regular Unleaded.
For confident motoring no matter the road conditions, the S80 T6 AWD comes standard with a Haldex-brand all-wheel drive system with Instant Traction. If you want the added security of all-wheel drive on the E350, you’ll have to select the optional 4MATIC Package, which costs an additional $2,500.
As you’d expect from vehicles in the premium segment, both sedans come with a slate of standard driver aids such as Electronic Stability Control, speed-sensitive steering and four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with Brake Assist. The braking system on the S80 T6 AWD adds Ready Alert Brakes, a system that senses emergency braking and moves the brake pads closer to the discs for quicker stops. Fading Brake Support automatically compensates for the higher pedal forces required after sustained heavy braking.
True to its standing as a trailblazer in automotive safety, Volvo equipped the S80 T6 AWD with driver-assistance technology you simply won’t find on the E350. In fact, the standard Volvo City Safety feature isn’t available from any other carmaker. Using infrared sensors, City Safety detects a potential collision in slow-moving traffic and instantly applies the brakes at speeds up to 19 mph to help mitigate or prevent an accident.
Choosing the Technology Package on the S80 T6 AWD garners features meant to keep you rock steady until you reach your destination. The roster includes Driver Alert Control, a Blind Spot Information System, Adaptive Cruise Control with Queue Assist and Lane Departure Control, plus Collision Warning and Pedestrian Detection, both with Full Auto Brake. You can’t get these advanced safety systems on the E350 at any price.
The superior collection of restraint technology you’ll find in the S80 T6 AWD starts off with dual-chamber side-impact airbags for the driver and front passenger, as well as inflatable outboard curtains. The standard Whiplash Protection System shields front-seat occupants in the event of a low-speed rear impact and has been shown to reduce the risk of protracted recuperation by 50 percent. No whiplash protection system is available on the E350.
For buyers who might still question the ability of any competitor to match the available luxury of the Mercedes-Benz E350, Volvo recommends a perusal of the new Inscription Package. This collection of exquisite interiors delivers a level of personalized splendor sure to satisfy even the most demanding luxury devotee. Contributing to the timeless elegance of this new package are seats adorned in the finest Scottish hides, available in four color combinations and complete with contrast stitching, piping and exclusive “Inscription” logo.
One last, long-term enticement to get you behind the wheel of the S80 T6 AWD: Only the Volvo offers five years/50,000 miles of complimentary factory-scheduled maintenance courtesy of the Volvo “Safe + Secure” program. You won’t find that on the Mercedes-Benz.
To make the point of this comparison crystal clear, you can outfit the uplevel S80 T6 AWD with the Technology Package and the Inscription Package and pay an MSRP of $47,350 – still $3,140 less than the MSRP of the base E350 model.
If you’re looking for superior performance, luxury, safety and value in a premium midsize sedan, schedule a test drive of the new 2012 Volvo S80 T6 AWD.