The Volvo 850 is a compact executive car that was produced by the Swedish manufacturer Volvo Cars from 1991 [5] to 1996. [5] 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 in Europe in June 1991, [8] as a 1992 model year car. It was launched with the slogan "A dynamic car with four unique innovations" [9] which referred to the newly developed five cylinder transverse engine, the Delta-link rear axle, SIPS and the self-adjusting seatbelt reel for the front seats. [10] Only the saloon [9] was available, badged as 850 GLT and came with the 2.5L 20V engine. [35] In 1992, the 850 was brought to the United States as 1993 model becoming Volvo's first FWD car on the US market. [35]

The estate version of the 850 finally went on sale in February 1993, [9] on all markets. 6 months later, in August, [9] the 850 Turbo was introduced for the 1994 model year as was the new 2.5L 10V engine. A facelift with new bumpers front and rear, new headlights and indicators on the outside and new switchgear on the inside updated the car visually. On the technical side of things Volvo switched from 4 bolt to 5 bolt hubs, made ABS standard on all markets and changed to a new A/C system.

For 1995, the special edition 850 T-5R was offered.

All US 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).

From 1996 to 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 US market. [2]

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

For the 850, Volvo created what it called "Delta-link semi-independent rear suspension". Volvo held a US 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 [2] and a diesel engined 850 badged as 850 TDI . [2] [2]

850 T-5R

For model year 1995, a high performance model, developed in part with Porsche, was released and designated the 850 T-5R . Originally it was to be called 850 plus 5 . [2] 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, [2] giving the engine an extra 18 hp (13 kW; 18 PS) for a total of 243 hp (181 kW) [2] 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. 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 . Also, just like the 940, it had 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.

6964 T-5Rs were produced worldwide, of which the largest market was Germany 1433, Italy 914 (2.0 turbo) United States 876, Japan 749, Netherlands 489, UK 440, Sweden 321, Spain 185, Canada 103.

The 1995 850 T-5R was limited in exterior paint color choices:

  • Cream yellow – 2537 worldwide including saloon and estate. Cream Yellow was marketed in the Australian market as 'Faded Yellow' to compensate for the unrelenting Australian sun. The Gothenburg boffins were aware of the 1990s paint technology, and the fact it wouldn't retain its deep luster over the course of time, and hence, the clever marketing descriptor, 'Faded Yellow' was coined.
  • Stone Black – 2516 worldwide including saloon and estate
  • Olive green metallic – 1911 worldwide including saloon and estate

Colour distribution was limited in some countries i.e. not all countries got all 3 colours, Norway only received yellow.

Limited trial colours of metallic grey and purple were produced, but numbers were incredibly low (somewhere in the order of 6 units, some of which are still on the road in Norway.

850 R

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).

Production of the 850 R ran between 1996–97 (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 a viscous coupling 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) [2] 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 US 850s, the M59 being available in other countries.

850 AWD

In November 1996, [20] Volvo launched the 850 AWD . Available as a 1997 model [20] 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, [21] the only available transmission was a 5-speed manual. [21] Ride height was marginally increased over FWD models, a newly developed multilink [3] rear axle rear with self leveling suspension was standard. Visual features included front and rear mudflaps, the exhaust exiting on the right rear with the bumper being provisioned for dual outlets and specific AWD badging.


Petrol engines
Model Engine code Year(s) Fuel Delivery Power Torque @rpm Displacement Performance
2.0 10V B5202FS 1995–1997 Siemens Fenix 5.2 126 PS (93 kW) @6100 170 N·m (130 lb·ft) @4800 1,984 cc (121.1 in 3 ) 0–100 km/h: 11.7s (saloon) 11.9s (estate)
VMax: 194 km/h (121 mph)
2.0 20V B5204FS 1992–1996 Bosch LH 3.2 Jetronic* 143 hp (107 kW) @6500 184 N·m (136 lb·ft) @3800 1,984 cc (121.1 in 3 ) 0–100 km/h: 10.5s
VMax: 203 km/h (126 mph)
2.3 20V [3] B5234FS 1994–1997 Bosch 144 hp (107 kW) @6500 197 N·m (145 lb·ft) @3700 2,319 cc (141.5 in 3 ) 0–100 km/h: 'n/a' s
VMax: 'n/a' km/h
2.5 10V B5252S [24] 1994–1997 Siemens Fenix 5.2 144 hp (107 kW) @5400 206 N·m (152 lb·ft) @3600 2,435 cc (148.6 in 3 ) 0–100 km/h: 10.0s
VMax: 205 km/h (127 mph)
2.5 20V B5254S2 1991–1995 Bosch LH 3.2 Jetronic* 170 hp (127 kW) @6200 220 N·m (160 lb·ft) @3300 2,435 cc (148.6 in 3 ) 0–100 km/h: 8.9s (saloon) 9.2s (estate)
VMax: 210 km/h (130 mph)
  • 2.5T
  • 2.5T AWD
B5254T 1996–1997 Bosch Motronic 4.4 193 PS (142 kW) @5100 270 N·m (200 lb·ft) @1800 2,435 cc (148.6 in 3 ) 0–100 km/h: 7.8s
VMax: 225 km/h (140 mph)
T-5 2.0 B5204T 1993–1997 Bosch Motronic 4.3 210 hp (157 kW) @5000 300 N·m (220 lb·ft) @2200 1,984 cc (121.1 in 3 ) 0–100 km/h: 7.7s
VMax: 230 km/h (143 mph)
T-5 2.3 B5234T [24] 1993–1997 Bosch Motronic 4.3 225 hp (168 kW) @5200 340 N·m (250 lb·ft) @2000 2,319 cc (141.5 in 3 ) 0–100 km/h: 7.4s [25]
VMax: 240 km/h (149 mph)
T-5R 2.0 B5204T2 1995–1996 Bosch Motronic 4.3 225 hp (168 kW) @5400 300 N·m (220 lb·ft) @1900 1,984 cc (121.1 in 3 ) 0–100 km/h: 6.5s
VMax: 229 km/h (142 mph)
T-5R (Auto) B5234T5 1995–1996 Bosch Motronic 4.3 225 hp (168 kW)
243 hp (181 kW) with overboost.
300 N·m (220 lb·ft) @ 1,984 cc (121.1 in 3 ) 0–100 km/h: 7.4s
VMax: 245 km/h (152 mph)
T-5R (Manual) B5234T5 1995–1996 Bosch Motronic 4.3 225 hp (168 kW)
243 hp (181 kW) with overboost.
340 N·m (250 lb·ft) @2000 2,319 cc (141.5 in 3 ) 0–100 km/h: 6.9s [3]
VMax: 245 km/h (152 mph)
R (Auto) B5234T5 1996–1997 Bosch Motronic 4.3 240 hp (179 kW) @5400 300 N·m (220 lb·ft) @ 2,319 cc (141.5 in 3 ) 0–100 km/h: 7.5s
VMax: 235 km/h (146 mph) [25]
R (Manual) B5234T4 1996–1997 Bosch Motronic 4.4 250 hp (186 kW) @5400 350 N·m (260 lb·ft) @2400 2,319 cc (141.5 in 3 ) 0–100 km/h: 6.7s
VMax: 255 km/h (158 mph)
Diesel engines
Model Engine code Year(s) Power Torque @rpm Displacement Performance
TDI D5252T*** (MSA 15.7) 1996–1997 140 hp (104 kW) 290 N·m (210 lb·ft) @1900 2,461 cc (150.2 in 3 ) 0–100 km/h: 9.9s
VMax: 200 km/h (124 mph)
  • * B5254S: 1992–95 have Bosch LH 3.2. In 1996, both Bosch LH 3.2 and Bosch Motronic 4.4 was fitted. As of 1997 only Bosch Motronic 4.4 was fitted.
  • ** Please see Volvo Owners Manual:
  • ** Also the press release for the 1995 T-5R:
  • *** Modified 2.5L VAG TDI engine


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.

In Australia Volvo Dealer Racing entered an 850 T-5 for Peter Brock and Tony Scott in the 1994 James Hardie 12 Hour production car race at Bathurst , finishing 25th. It entered the Australian Super Touring Championship with an estate version driven by Scott in 1995 and an 850 saloon by Brock in 1996 and Jim Richards in 1997 . Two cars were entered in the 1997 Bathurst 1000 .


850s models often also experience tuning measures, since they are inexpensive because of their age. The only problem is that there are not many companies that offer the appropriate components. Wheels and suspension parts are easy to get, otherwise it looks at spoilers, bumpers, side skirts and rear aprons from. Usually, the only source for these components is DIY, or stock components from sportier models. Cars of 850/S/V/C/XC/70-Series are universal, and each uses interchangeable parts. Therefore, besides the increase in engine power, there are also more interesting tuning projects like all-wheel-drive conversions or engine swaps to newer Volvo inline five engines. Similar projects exist in different countries of the world:

  • - in Norway;
  • - in England;
  • - in Russia;
  • - is being built in Netherlands.

See also

  • 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)