Volvo 850 T5 - The Model That Changed Everything
by Jonathan Clensy |
posted 20 May 2017
The Volvo 850 was the car that changed everything – a front-wheel-drive Volvo with a five-cylinder transverse engine. It was the result of the Galaxy project, which got its name because it was aiming for the stars.
The new car was launched under the banner "A dynamic car with four world firsts". These new features were the transverse five-cylinder engine, the Delta-link rear axle designed in-house, the integrated side-impact protection system, SIPS, and the self-adjusting front seat belt.
Project Galaxy resulted in two model series – one Swedish and one Dutch. The underlying technology was developed jointly; after this the teams split up. The Dutch company Volvo Car B.V went on to develop what would become the 400 series, while Volvo Cars in Sweden developed the 850 series.
The first model to be presented was the 850 GLT, with its 20-valve naturally aspirated engine producing 170 hp. During the development phase, Volvo worked actively to make the 850 GLT a lively car that delivered great driving pleasure while achieving the correct intake and exhaust noise.
The next important 850 version was presented in February 1993 – the estate car. It boasted typical Volvo features such as the abruptly ending rear section for maximum load capacity. One new design feature, however, was the extended vertical tail lights that covered the entire D-post.
1994 was also the year when Volvo returned to the racetrack – and did so in an extremely eye-catching way. When two 850s drove up to the starting line for the season premiere at the Thruxton track in southern England, they were the estate version! Competing with a “van” in Europe’s most prestigious standard car series, the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) attracted an enormous amount of attention.
The 850 AWD – the company's first four-wheel-drive car – was a pioneer for Volvo when it was launched in 1996. The 850 All Wheel Drive had four-wheel drive engaged at all times – a viscous coupling automatically distributed the power between the front and rear wheels.
1996 was the final year the 850 was in production. When the models underwent a major upgrade in 1997, the designations were changed to S70 for the saloon models and V70 for the estate version. A total of 1,360,522 cars were built in model versions originating from the 850 series.