volvo amazon
11:00 PM | September 20 2019

5 mid-sized Volvos that made their mark

We mark the arrival of the All-New S60 sports sedan with a look at five notable mid-sized Volvos from the company’s history.
AMAZON / 120
Volvo sedans featuring just two doors had marked much of the company’s history when the 120-series – or Amazon as it was known exclusively in Scandinavia – was introduced in 1956.
 
The handsome four-door sedan was notable for its twin-oval grille, pontoon-style body that hinted at the tailfin design common to US car design at the time, and fully welded construction complete with thorough anti-rust treatment.
 
And in 1959, the Amazon (along with the PV544) became the first car in the world to be fitted as standard with a front three-point safety belt – pioneered by Volvo that very year.
 
There were also two-door variants, badged 121 and 122S – the later denoting a sportier engine that had 63kW rather than the 121’s 49kW output. These models featured longer doors as well as folding front seats that helped passengers climb into the rear.
 
In 1966, there was an even sportier two-door in the fast and lavishly equipped 123GT that borrowed its engine from the P1800 sports car.

volvo 123 GT
144 /164
The same year the 123GT appeared, Volvo’s next mid-sized model, the 144 (above left), also debuted.
 
Advanced safety features for the time include disc brakes front and rear, a new lock for the three-point seatbelts, a dual-circuit brake system that could still provide significant braking performance in the event of one brake circuit failing, and energy-absorbing crumple zones integrated into the body front and rear.
 
The model was a success in overseas markets and would become Volvo’s volume-selling model until 1974 – and would continue to be produced into the 1990s.
 
1968’s 164 was a more prestigious version of the 144, with a more luxurious interior featuring leather upholstery and more performance courtesy of a 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine under the bonnet rather than a four-cylinder.

volvo 240
240
With more than 2.8 million built over a 19-year lifespan, the 240 is one of Volvo’s most iconic models. The wagon variant was also remarkably popular – accounting for one in three sales.
 
The 240 series debuted in 1974 with a design inspired by the company’s 1972 Experimental Safety Car. That was fitting, because in 1976 the 244 model was chosen by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as its standard for safety for offering better protection for its occupants than any car of comparable size.
 
The same year it became the first car to be fitted with a catalytic converter – and featuring the ground-breaking lambda sond sensor developed by Volvo.
 
Safety credentials were enduring. In 1991, 17 years after the 240’s release, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) called the 240 Estate (wagon) the safest car on the US market.

Volvo 850 GLT
850
The 1991 850 GLT was distinguished by several features, including a transverse inline five-cylinder engine, a ‘Delta-link’ rear suspension, integrated side impact protection, and self-adjusting seatbelt reels.
 
Over the next couple of years it was joined by a GLE trim grade and an Estate (wagon) model featuring a retractable safety net for the folding rear seat.
 
The 850 was a model that also became renowned for performance – especially fast wagons. The 1993 850 Turbo produced 225hp before power was cranked up again the following year for the 250hp T-5R (pictured) – making it Volvo’s most powerful car at the time. It was succeeded by the 850R in 1996.
 
Yet safety also improved in 1994 when the 850 became the first car in the world to combine side impact protection with side airbags.

Volvo S60 blue
S60
The second-generation S60 made its mark in the mid-sized luxury car segment when it arrived in 2010.
 
Beyond its stylish, coupe-like exterior design, the S60 offered unrivalled safety features in the form of City Safety. The autonomous emergency braking system could help distracted drivers avoid the common accident of crashing into the vehicle ahead, up to a certain speed, by applying the brakes automatically.
 
The technology was enhanced with Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake, which using the S60’s camera and radar set-up could also help mitigate, or even avoid, a collision with a person detected in the middle of the road.
 
This generation of S60 also became part of a successful pilot project in Australia, when a special Polestar performance variant was created. It featured unique suspension and body kit, while a 257kW turbocharged six-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive allowed it to cover the 0-100km/h sprint in less than five seconds.

In 2016, the updated S60 Polestar (pictured) switched to a supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder engine and, in conjunction with some weight savings, became even faster (0-100km/h in 4.7 seconds).