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When Volvo Built a Turbo Five-Cylinder Performance Station Wagon

Road & Track logo Road & Track 2/5/2019 Máté Petrány
a red and blue car: The year was 1996, and Volvo just couldn't stop being awesome.© Volvo The year was 1996, and Volvo just couldn't stop being awesome.

The 1995 Volvo 850 T-5R was nuts for a family station wagon. It had a 2.3-liter turbocharged five-cylinder with an ECU tuned by Porsche for 243 horsepower, sticky low-profile Pirelli P-Zero tires as standard, and a drag coefficient of 0.29. And it only happened because, the previous year, Tom Walkinshaw Racing had done the unthinkable, campaigning a pair of 850 wagons in the British Touring Car Championship.

After the photo above made its rounds in the press, the T-5Rs sold out in no time, and regardless of its original, more sensible product plans, Volvo had no choice but to keep the fire going.

a blue car driving on a road: When Volvo Built a Turbo Five-Cylinder Fast Wagon© Volvo When Volvo Built a Turbo Five-Cylinder Fast Wagon

Which brings us to the 1996 Volvo 850R wagon. Yes, this special Volvo was also available as a sedan, but nobody remembers that variant. The 850R experience is all about the sleeper wagon with the five-speed manual, complete with the optional heavy-duty clutch and limited-slip differential, and 250 very well hidden horsepower as standard.

Torque steer? What torque steer?

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