The 480 is one of these automotive anomaly I love. It was made by a manufacturer who only knew RWD, massive, bulletproof cars who decided, for some reason, to get into the FWD car business.
What could possibly go wrong then? Well, pretty much everything.
Remember first generation of the Mercedes A class ? Is the shape of a BMW 2 series Active Tourer still haunting your nightmares ? That's what I'm talking about. Brand dilution. Boredom. Blandness
But Volvo didn't take the sensible route. Volvo went mad.
What should have been a sensible hatchback ended up being a sporty-ish shooting brake, oozing with character but not to the taste of everybody, to say the least. With pop-up headlights and a wedgy shape, it is the 80's P1800ES nobody was expecting.
Inside, it's the same story. Renault electronics and poor quality control in the old DAF factory didn't keep Volvo from cramming the 480 with goodies, including one of the first on-board computers. The build quality, Volvo's usual core selling point was, of course, shocking.
I had a 480 for about a year. A 2.0l n/a, 110 cv, but that's irrelevant. The mileage was unknown as the odometer was broken (common fault), in winter the car froze from the inside because the seals were leaky (common fault), the headlights did a ritual dance (up - down - up -down - up) before finally popping up, the car squeaked and rattled from everywhere, and the handling was pretty poor for a sporty car.
It was a bad car. Not on par with the competition, or with other Volvos.
But you know what? I loved it. It had character, not in the way it drove, but in all the details, the little quirks. Providing you didn't use the rear seats, it was practical, and full of good ideas. It was very, very cheap. As a student's daily driver, it was perfect. Would I buy an other one ? If I had an infinite amount of money, absolutely. And i'd shoehorn a T5 under the bonnet.