Volvo 850

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Volvo 850
Manufacturer Volvo
Production 1991–1996 (716,903 units)[1][2]
Model years 1992–1997
Assembly Torslanda, Sweden
Ghent, Belgium
Halifax, Canada (VHA)
Designer Jan Wilsgaard (1989)
Body and chassis
Class Compact executive car (D)
Body style 4-door saloon
5-door estate
Layout Front engine,
front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive
Platform Volvo P80 platform
Transmission 5-speed Volvo M56 manual
5-speed Volvo M58 manual
5-speed Volvo M59 manual
4-speed Aisin AW50-42LE automatic
Wheelbase 2,664 mm (104.9 in)
Length saloon: 4,661 mm (183.5 in)
estate: 4,709 mm (185.4 in)
Width 1,760 mm (69.3 in)
Height 1991–1997 saloon:
1,415 mm (55.7 in)
1993–1995 estate:
1,415 mm (55.7 in)
1996–1997 estate:
1,445 mm (56.9 in)
Kerb weight saloon:[3][4]
1,385–1,520 kg (3,053–3,351 lb)
1,465–1,570 kg (3,230–3,461 lb)[5]
Predecessor Volvo 200 Series
Successor Volvo S70/V70

The Volvo 850 is a compact executive car that was produced by the Swedish manufacturer Volvo from 1991[6] to 1996.[6] Designed by Jan Wilsgaard it was available in saloon and estate body styles. The 850 was the first front-wheel drive vehicle from Volvo to be sold in North America and also the first all-wheel drive Volvo. The range was replaced for 1997 by the Volvo S70 and Volvo V70.


The Volvo 850 was introduced worldwide as a 1992 model, but arrived in the United States in the 1993 model year. It was sold as a saloon with an estate model on sale from 1992 in Europe. The Volvo 850 was launched with the slogan "A dynamic car with four world-beating breakthroughs". The four breakthroughs were: the transverse 5-cylinder engine driving the front wheels, a Delta-link rear axle, which combined the dynamics and ride comfort of independent suspension with the reliability of a live rear axle, the SIPS integrated side-impact protection system, and the self-adjusting front seat belt mechanism.[7]

The 850 was the first Volvo model in North America to feature front-wheel drive and an all-aluminium alloy 20-valve straight-five 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, anti-lock braking system, 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 sunroof, power seats, heated seats, remote keyless entry, automatic climate control, and automatic transmission.

The 850 saloon features an interior space of 2.80 cubic metres (99 cu ft). This is slightly more than the 2.78 cubic metres (98 cu 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 850 T5 is capable of top speeds in excess of 250 kilometres per hour (155 mph) when ungoverned. Production models of the estate and saloon have been tested to maximum speeds of 147 mph (237 km/h).

In 1995, a limited-edition version, labeled T-5R, was sold worldwide.

From 1996-1997, a high-end model, the R, was produced. It was based on the aforementioned T-5R.

In 1996 a "Platinum" edition of the 850 Turbo was available. The exterior paint for these models came in a metallic pearl platinum-colour and had special 16 inch alloy wheels. The interior was fitted with leather seats and burled walnut accents. Only 1,500 of these were imported for the U.S. market.[8]

For the last model year (1996/1997), the 850 AWD (All Wheel Drive) model was introduced with a new 193 bhp (144 kW; 196 PS) low pressure turbo 2.4 litre engine (B5254T).

Rear suspension[edit]

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.



A wide variety of 850 models were sold. These included a CNG-powered Bi-Fuel model and a diesel engined 850 badged as 850 TDI[9][10].

850 T-5R[edit]

Volvo 850 T-5R at the Volvo Museum

In 1995, a high performance model, developed in part with Porsche, was released and designated the T-5R. The vehicle was based on the 850 Turbo, utilizing the B5234T3 engine with a special ECU (Bosch #628) that added an additional 2 psi (0.1 bar) of turbocharger boost pressure,[11] giving the engine an extra 18 hp (13 kW; 18 PS) for a total of 243 hp (181 kW)[12] and 250 lb·ft (340 N·m) of torque. The engine was mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission or 5-speed manual transmission, the latter of which was not available in the US. The T-5R was renowned as a sleeper car; despite its boxy, understated appearance, it boasted a drag coefficient of 0.29 and was capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 5.8 - 6.0 seconds (depending on transmission and body type). The top speed was electronically limited to 152.2 mph (244.9 km/h). The vehicle came standard with Pirelli P-Zero tires, providing lateral grip of 0.88 g. The engine tuning was co-developed with Porsche, as was the transmission and other powertrain components. Porsche also aided in designing some of the interior, such as the Alcantara seat inserts. These cars came as standard with nearly every feature available, only a handful of options - such as heated rear seats - were available. On the North American market only two options could be chosen, a trunk-mounted Alpine 6-CD changer and no-cost 16" wheels for a smoother, more comfortable ride and driveability in snow when using all-season tires.

Also included in the 1995 T-5R package was a front bumper with a lip, rear spoiler, side skirts, polished aluminum door sills, special graphite leather and Alcantara seats, and a black interior with deep walnut wood grain accents. Both yellow and black versions came with the same black interior as the only choice. The T-5R has an additional badge to the left of the "850" on the trunk, referred to as "The Motorsport badge". The standard road wheel was the titanium-gray 5-spoke 17×7 "Titan". 1995 was the only year that the a model was badged as a "T-5R"; the following year, as Volvo recognized the vehicle's popularity, the model was renewed with the designation "850R".

The Volvo 850 T-5R was also noted for its safety features. It was the first automobile to be fitted standard with four airbags.[citation needed] The side airbags were installed in the seat cushions. The side airbags were integrated into the rest of the Volvo model line the following year as an option, and became standard a year after that; other manufacturers soon followed suit. The car was also fitted with an early example of daytime running lamps. It was also the first saloon to have three-point seatbelts at all five seating positions (previously, cars had only a lap belt for the center rear seat). The T-5R also used the OBDII diagnostics system, a year before OBDII was made an automotive standard.

5500 T-5Rs were produced worldwide, of which 904 went to the United States, 185 were yellow. The 1995 850 T-5R was limited in exterior paint color choices:

  • Cream yellow - 1975 worldwide including saloon and estate
  • Black - 3025 worldwide including saloon and estate
  • Emerald green metallic - 0500 worldwide including saloon and estate

850 R[edit]

Volvo 850 R in Torslanda, Sweden.

In 1996 Volvo introduced a new high performance Volvo 850 as a replacement for the hugely successful limited edition T-5R. Volvo decided there should be no direct successor to the T-5R, but due to its huge hand in improving Volvo's image and the big sales success Volvo decided to develop a new high performance model. The new car should be based on the T-5R but with some improvements. The new car was called the Volvo 850 R which again came as either a saloon or Sport Wagon. In 5-door form, the turbocharged station wagon can accelerate from 0-62 mph in 6.5/7.4 (manual/auto) seconds and reach up to 158 mph (254 km/h).[citation needed]

Production of the 850 R ran between 1996-1997 (the final year of the 850) and unlike the T-5R was not limited. Various Volvo sources estimate between 5000-7000 of all 850 R variants were produced and sold worldwide.

The only colours available were Bright Red, Black Stone, Dark Grey Pearl, Dark Olive Pearl, Turquoise Pearl and Polar White. In the US market only Bright Red, Polar White and Black Stone were available. Cream yellow was discontinued for the 850 R. The saloon featured a newly designed rear spoiler. Spoiler was now standard on the estate. The interior upgrades included bucket style heavily bolstered 'sport' front seats (alcantara centre with leather bolsters), alcantara door cards, 2-tone leather steering wheel, stainless steel '850' kick plates and R branded over mats. A 200w amplifier was also added to the 8-speaker audio system as was the option to have an SC-805/815 in-dash CD player (some markets).

For a limited time in 1996 only, Volvo offered a new heavy duty manual transmission designed specifically for the 850 R (excluding US market), called the M59, which featured both a viscous coupling and a Torsen limited-slip differential. Furthermore, the M59 equipped cars were fitted with the B5234T4 2.3-litre 5-cylinder engine featuring a larger TD04HL-16T turbo, re-designed turbo manifold & intercooler, unique ecu with Motronic 4.4, uprated fuel pressure sensor and a heavy duty clutch. These modifications enabled the manual transmission cars to produce 250 hp (190 kW) and 350 N·m (260 lb·ft)[13] versus 240 hp (180 kW) and 330 N·m (240 lb·ft) for the automatic transmission.

Due to encumbrances placed on engine volume by the Italian government, 850 Rs sold in Italy were based on the 2.0 litre 850 Turbo. The transmission was the standard AW/50-42 used in all U.S. 850s, the M56H being available in other countries.

850 AWD[edit]

In 1996 Volvo launched the 850 AWD. Available as a 1997 model it came only in estate configuration, featured standard all-wheel drive and was only available on certain markets. All cars were equipped with the new 2.5L turbo engine developing 193bhp, the only available transmission was a 5-speed manual.

Volvo 850 AWD station wagon (AUS)
Volvo 850 AWD estate (AUS)

Trim levels in United States[edit]

A European-spec 1993 Volvo 850 wagon. For the 1994 model year the bumpers were revised and the headlamps were modified to have separate low (dipped) and high beam bulbs. This particular example is missing the grille insert and has aftermarket wheels.


  • 850 GLT: 2.4 L I5, 168 hp (125 kW) @ 6300 rpm and 162 lb·ft (220 N·m) @ 4500 rpm

All 1993 850 models were badged GLT, regardless of equipment. Many options (leather, sunroof, and more) were bundled into the Touring package.


  • 850: 2.4 L I5, 168 hp (125 kW) @ 6300 rpm and 162 lb·ft (220 N·m) @ 4500 rpm
  • 850 Turbo: 2.3 L I5, 225 hp (166 kW) @ 5200 rpm and 221 lb·ft (300 N·m) @ 2100 rpm

The 1994 850 includes revised headlights, front valances, and front and rear bumpers. The GLT badge is dropped, although all the same equipment is available. The 222 hp (166 kW) Turbo sedan and wagon, as well as the naturally aspirated 168 hp (125 kW) wagon, are new models this year. Wheels were upgraded from a 4 bolt pattern to a 5 bolt on 108mm pattern that is still used today.


  • 850: 2.4 L I5, 168 hp (125 kW) @ 6300 rpm and 162 lb·ft (220 N·m) @ 4500 rpm
  • 850 GLT: 2.4 L I5, 168 hp (125 kW) @ 6300 rpm and 162 lb·ft (220 N·m) @ 4500 rpm
  • 850 Turbo: 2.3 L I5, 225 hp (166 kW) @ 5200 rpm and 221 lb·ft (300 N·m) @ 2100 rpm
  • 850 T-5R: 2.3 L I5, 245 hp (179 kW) @ 5600 rpm and 221 lb·ft (300 N·m) @ 2100 rpm

The GLT badge returned for the 1995 model year, so there were now sedan and wagon versions of the 850, 850 GLT, 850 Turbo, and 850 T-5R. The T-5R was the new high performance model, with more power stemming from ECU tuning, and special suspension, trim and wheels. In addition to the introduction of the T-5R, changes included new tail-lights for sedans, optional side airbags for all variants, new interior switch-gear design and several other detail changes. Australian delivered 850 SEs were provided with the B5252 10 valve motor, which was labelled DOHC on the cam cover.


  • 850: 2.4 L I5, 168 hp (125 kW) @ 6300 rpm and 162 lb·ft (220 N·m) @ 4700 rpm
  • 850 GLT: 2.4 L I5, 168 hp (125 kW) @ 6300 rpm and 162 lb·ft (220 N·m) @ 4500 rpm
  • 850 Turbo: 2.3 L I5, 225 hp (166 kW) @ 5200 rpm and 221 lb·ft (340 N·m) @ 2100 rpm
  • 850 R: 2.3 L I5, 250 hp (179 kW) @ 5600 rpm and 221 lb·ft (350 N·m) @ 2100 rpm

Changes this year include a revised power door lock system, new exterior colors, and full OBD-II compliance. The T-5R high performance version became the R in 1996, but the performance differences remained relatively the same. The United Kingdom received 2.5 10v and 2.5 20v versions, which were unavailable in the U.S. and Canada, but made their way to Russia and Switzerland. In manual form the 850 R power output increased to 250 bhp and torque to 350 NM.


  • 850: 2.4 L I5, 168 hp (125 kW) @ 6300 rpm and 162 lb·ft (220 N·m) @ 4700 rpm
  • 850 GLT: 2.4 L I5, 190 hp (142 kW) @ 5100 rpm and 199 lb·ft (270 N·m) at 1600 rpm
  • 850 T-5: 2.3 L I5, 225 hp (166 kW) @ 5200 rpm and 221 lb·ft (340 N·m) @ 2100 rpm
  • 850 R: 2.3 L I5, 250 hp (179 kW) @ 5600 rpm and 221 lb·ft (350 N·m) @ 2100 rpm
  • 850 AWD (Canada/Europe only) 2.4L I5 T 193 hp (144 kW) @ 5100 rpm; 3,700 lb (1,700 kg) approx.

For 1997, the 850's final year, all GLT models were increased to 190 hp (142 kW) by pairing a low-pressure turbocharger with the 2.4 L engine. The 850 Turbo model was thence called the 850 T-5, as it always had been in the UK. The 1997 model year was short, as the substantially similar (virtually identical except for superficial styling changes) Volvo S70 sedan and Volvo V70 wagon were introduced during the first half of 1997 shortly before Ford Motor Co. took over Volvo in 1999.
Volvo 850 AWD In 1997 Volvo released the 850 AWD to the Canadian market. It had been available in Europe in 1996, perhaps earlier. It has the same motor as the 1997 GLT 2.4 L I5 LPT (13G). It was only available with a 5 speed M58 transmission in Canada. It is believed that 214 850 AWDs were imported to Canada for 1997.


Volvo 850 Quick information by Trim Level
Trim Engine Turbo Fuel Delivery Power Torque Transmission Performance
2.0 10V B5202 2.0L 1984 cc I5 10v No Siemens Fenix 5.2 126 hp (94 kW) @6100 rpm 170 N·m (130 lb·ft) @4800 rpm M56 5 speed manual / AW50-42LE 4 speed automatic 0–100 km/h: 11.7s (saloon), 11.9s (estate), VMax 194 km/h (121 mph)
2.0 20V B5204 2.0L 1984 cc I5 20v No Bosch LH 3.2 Jetronic* 143 hp (107 kW) @6500 rpm 184 N·m (136 lb·ft) @3800 rpm M56 5 speed manual / AW50-42LE 4 speed automatic 0–100 km/h: 10.5s, VMax 203 km/h (126 mph)
2.0 T-5 B5204T 2.0L 1984 cc I5 20v Turbo Yes Bosch Motronic 4.3 210 hp (157 kW) @5000 rpm 300 N·m (220 lb·ft) @2200 rpm M56 5 speed manual / AW50-42LE 4 speed automatic 0–100 km/h: 7.7s, VMax: 230 km/h (143 mph)
2.0 T-5R B5204T3 2.0L 1984 cc I5 20v Turbo Yes Bosch Motronic 4.3 225 hp (168 kW) @5400 rpm 300 N·m (220 lb·ft) @1900 rpm M56 5 speed manual / AW50-42LE 4 speed automatic 0–100 km/h: 6.5s,[citation needed] VMax: 229 km/h (142 mph)
2.3 20V [14] B5234FS 2.3L 2319 cc I5 20v No Bosch 144 hp (107 kW) @6500 rpm 197 N·m (145 lb·ft) @3700 rpm M56 5 speed manual 0–100 km/h: 'n/a' s, VMax 'n/a' km/h
2.5 10V B5252 2.4L 2435 cc I5 10v No Siemens Fenix 5.2 144 hp (107 kW) @5400 rpm 206 N·m (152 lb·ft) @3600 rpm M56 5 speed manual / AW50-42LE 4 speed automatic VMax 203 km/h (126 mph)
2.5 20V B5254 2.4L 2435 cc I5 20v No Bosch LH 3.2 Jetronic* 170 hp (127 kW) @6200 rpm 220 N·m (160 lb·ft) @3300 rpm M56 5 speed manual / AW50-42LE 4 speed automatic 0–100 km/h: 8.9s (saloon) 9.2s (estate), VMax: 216 km/h (134 mph)
2.5T B5254T 2.4L 2435 cc I5 20v Turbo Yes (Mitsubishi TD04-13G) Bosch Motronic 4.3 193 hp (144 kW) @5100 rpm 270 N·m (200 lb·ft) @1800 rpm M56 5 speed manual / M58 5 speed manual / AW50-42LE 4 speed automatic 0–100 km/h: 7.8s, VMax: 225 km/h(140 mph)
T-5 B5234T 2.3L 2319 cc I5 20v Turbo Yes (Mitsubishi TD04-15G) Bosch Motronic 4.3 225 hp (168 kW) @5200 rpm 340 N·m (250 lb·ft) @2000 rpm M56 5 speed manual / AW50-42LE 4 speed automatic 0–100 km/h: 7.3s,[citation needed] VMax: 234 km/h (145 mph)
T-5R (Auto) B5234T5 2.3L 2319 cc I5 20v Turbo Yes (Mitsubishi TD04-15G) Bosch Motronic 4.3 225 hp (168 kW), boosts to 243 hp (181 kW) for 30 seconds.** 300 N·m (220 lb·ft) @ rpm AW50-42LE 4 speed automatic 0–100 km/h: 7.4s auto,[citation needed] VMax: 245 km/h (152 mph)
T-5R (Man) B5234T5 2.3L 2319 cc I5 20v Turbo Yes (Mitsubishi TD04-15G) Bosch Motronic 4.3 225 hp (168 kW), boosts to 243 hp (181 kW) for 30 seconds.** 340 N·m (250 lb·ft) @2000 rpm M56 5 speed manual 0–100 km/h: 6.9s,[citation needed] VMax: 250 km/h(156 mph)
850 R (Auto) B5234T5 2.3L 2319 cc I5 20v Turbo Yes (Mitsubishi TD04-15G) Bosch Motronic 4.3 240 hp (179 kW) @5400 rpm 300 N·m (220 lb·ft) @ rpm AW50-42LE 4 speed automatic 0–100 km/h: 7.1s auto, VMax: 245 km/h (152 mph)
850 R (Man) B5234T4 2.3L 2319 cc I5 20v Turbo Yes (Mitsubishi TD04-16T) Bosch Motronic 4.4 250 hp (186 kW) @5400 rpm 350 N·m (260 lb·ft) @2400 rpm manual M59 5 speed manual with limited-slip differential 0–100 km/h: 6.7s, VMax: 255 km/h (158 mph)
TDI D5252T*** 2.5L 2461 cc I5 10v Turbo Yes Bosch MSA 15.7 140 hp (104 kW) @ rpm 290 N·m (210 lb·ft) @1900 rpm M56 5 speed manual / AW50-42LE 4 speed automatic 0–100 km/h: 9.9s manual, VMax: 200 km/h (124 mph)


Volvo joined forces with Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) in 1994 to build an 850 Estate Super Touring Car to compete in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC). Despite much criticism, the 850 Estate performed well, with a best qualifying placing of third and a best race finish of fifth. The 850 Estates were driven by Rickard Rydell and Jan Lammers and Volvo finished eighth in the Manufacturers' standings of the 1994 championship. For 1995, TWR built a Saloon version, with the switch from Estate to Saloon being made mainly due to changes in BTCC regulations regarding aerodynamic aids which effectively ended any chance of the Estate being competitive. With Rickard Rydell and Tim Harvey driving, the 850 Saloons qualified on pole position 12 times and won six races, with Volvo placing third in the Manufacturers Championship. In 1996, an improved 850 Saloon competed in the championship with Rickard Rydell and Kelvin Burt driving, achieving five race wins. Volvo again finishing third in the Manufacturers’ Championship. Volvo also competed in the Super Touring category with the 850 across Europe and in Australia in this era. Australian race driver Peter Brock drove an 850 T-5 with Tony Scott in the 1994 James Hardie 12 Hour production car race at Bathurst, finishing 25th. He also drove an 850 saloon in the 1996 Australian Super Touring Championship, placing sixth in the Drivers’ Championship.

See also[edit]

  • Volvo S70, succeeding saloon model, largely a facelift version
  • Volvo V70, succeeding estate model, largely a facelift version
  • Volvo 440/460, compact models bearing a similar design (post-facelift)


External links[edit]