Considered as one of the largest Swedish engineering projects in the 90s, the Volvo 850 pioneered the Swedish car manufacturer’s reputation as a high-end brand in the U.S. market. It was Volvo’s top-selling model in the middle of the decade, and it was the company’s first model in the U.S. to have front-wheel drive and all-aluminum alloy, straight-five engine, among other innovations in its five-year lifespan.
1992 – 1994: The introduction of the 850 and its US arrival
Introduced in 1992, the Volvo 850 was sold in Europe as a sedan, and later in the same year the wagon version arrived. The sedan type had an in-line, five-cylinder engine transversely mounted under the hood, to give more space to the 2.80 cubic meter interior. The space inside the car was wide enough considering its compact look from the outside. Volvo introduced the “Delta-link, semi-independent rear suspension” for the 850. This gave the vehicle better handling with a tight turning circle of 10.2 meters.
After a year of its release, the 850 was finally introduced in the US market in 1993 with the GLT trim level. It was only in 1994 that two other trim levels, the 850 Base, and the 850 Turbo followed. The new models had new headlights and front and rear bumpers. Although the GLT trim line was dropped the same year, the equipment was still available in the North America.
1995: The model from a powerful collaboration
The T-5R, a high-performance vehicle based on the Volvo 850 Turbo, was released in 1995. Developed with German automaker Porsche, the T-5R utilized a B5234T3 engine and an electronic control unit from Bosch. These modifications added 2 psi of turbocharger boost pressure which increased the engine horsepower by 18 hp. Apart from the performance upgrade, Porsche also contributed in designing the car’s interior by including Alcantara seat inserts. Only 5,550 T-5Rs were produced, and 185 of those units were releases in United States.
1996 – 1997: The final run of the Swedish pride
In 1996, the T-5R high performance model was changed to the Volvo R, although the difference in performance is not too significant. The Volvo 850R Sport Wagon was also introduced in the same year. While in 1997, the 850’s final year, all GLT models had a significant horsepower increase to 190 hp with the installation of a low-pressure turbocharger and a 2.4 L engine. There was also the release of the Volvo 850 AWD for the European market that was available with a 5-speed transmission before Ford Motor finally took over Volvo in 1998.