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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sorry for the (somewhat) **** post but I've been browsing these forums for a little bit and haven't found much discussion on the 4 speed auto, probably since it was the only trans offered.

Currently contemplating between an 854 and an s70 T5M, the deciding factor being the transmissions and how hard the s70's are to find. So let me ask:
-How is the response and driving of the 4 speed?
-Is it quick to shift and strong under turbo pressure?
- Is it decently reliable?
-Does anyone regret getting an 850 because of it?
-Would you have rather gotten an (almost) impossible to find S70 T5-M because of the trans?

The easy solution to this would be to manual swap but that's out of my skill base as of right now. So let's here your thoughts about these trannies!

P.S. For what it's worth when I do buy my (first) volvo I'll be aiming for ~270HP at the crank. Goal is to be faster than all the new Focus ST's I see everywhere :p
And a less related question. What sort of RPMs are you guys running on the highways and how quiet are the interiors for the 850s?
 

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270 HP sounds like you'd be pushing your luck. The 850R had 250 hp but the auto version had 240. Further, I think it only had 240 hp during short bursts, like for a duration of 20-30 seconds or something like that, then it'd only use 225 HP... I believe. I'm not sure about the numbers except 250 and 240 hp respectively.
 

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The 4 speed is a very reliable tranny and the consensus is it can handle up to 300 hp. Most people will push for you to get a T5m simply because they're so much fun to drive.

Some people complain about interior squeaks in the 850 but mine is quiet at 140,000 miles and turns around 2700 rpm when cruising at 70.
 

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^ yeah get a manual.

The 4 speed auto is fine, very reliable and lasts 300,000 miles easy if you change the fluid regularly and don't put much more than stock 850R power through it (~250hp). You can go higher but the more you go the more likely you are to break a high-mileage transmission.

The downsides of the auto are significantly worse gas mileage than the 5-speed manual (or 5 speed autos that came in later cars), as well as hard shifting as they get older and poor performance. A 5-speed manual car is much faster than a 4-speed auto car because the auto is so inefficient it just uses up engine power. The manual also weighs around 50lbs less than the auto, so you cut weight from the car too. Plus, the manual can handle more power (especially with the bigger Euro-spec clutch) and fluid changes are much easier and less costly.

I can say this because I drove the 4-speed auto in my 850 Turbo for several years before swapping it out to a 5-speed manual last year - it is a HUGE difference. Way more fun to drive, faster, better gas mileage, and much smoother shifts. Get a T5 manual S70 or V70, you won't be disappointed.

EDIT: also, S70 T5-M, V70 T5-M, and C70 T5-M are not that hard to find if you're willing to travel outside your area a bit.

EDIT2: Regarding noise, most of us are running loud exhausts. The stock 850/S70 Turbo exhaust is a big limiter on power, mainly due to the downpipe design. Adding a sport exhaust, like IPD's, is a big performance booster, but they tend to be loud.

With a stock exhaust though, the 1993-00 P80 bodies are pretty quiet. Volvo did a good job padding all the various bits and pieces with foam. You can always add a layer of insulation to the back side of the door cards, which can help a lot with road noise.

The later model P2 bodies (2001-07) are quieter though, and don't tend to suffer from dashboard detachment. This is where some P80 dashes break off from the firewall and while this doesn't cause a lot of problems, it tends to make creaking noises over bumps. You could get a P2 body with a T5-M from 2001 to 2005 if I remember correctly. Maybe 2004.

EDIT3: also consider a C70 T5-M, sometimes a bit easier to find than S70 or V70 T5-M
https://portland.craigslist.org/clk/ctd/5420745658.html
https://baltimore.craigslist.org/cto/5400141159.html
 

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The p80 aw50 is an extremely solid transmission and has been proven to handle well over 270bhp. You won't even need to add a trans cooler at that power level, although it won't hurt considering heat is a major contributor to trans failure. I've had 0 issues for 5 years running an 18t at 19-20 psi with all the standard supporting mods and no trans cooler. During this time the car was my daily driver and experienced outside temps raging from 10-100+ F.

The auto will always shift faster than you. Also the turbo keeps spooling through shifts unlike the 5sp. The shift points are better than any other auto car I've driven.

With that being said I've done the 5sp swap and it is much more fun. My one gripe is the higher rpm during highway driving. I think I'm pretty close to 3k at 65mph
 

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The auto will always shift faster than you. Also the turbo keeps spooling through shifts unlike the 5sp.
I gotta disagree with these a bit... How fast your auto shifts depends a lot on its condition - which is often very high miles in these 20+ year old cars. My 260k auto shifted slower than I can in my 5-speed, even in "sport mode". One of the reasons I got rid of it - really hard, laggy shifts.

For the spooling during shifts, if you have an ECU that is set up for a manual transmission (e.g. in a factory manual transmission car), the ECU holds the RPMs where they are at (when you begin a shift and let off the gas) for about 2 seconds. It does this by opening the idle air control valve, bypassing the (now closed) throttle body. After about 2 seconds with the throttle body closed, the ECU slowly closes the idle air control valve, dropping the RPMs smoothly to idle speed.

However, if the ECU is still set up for an automatic, and you put a manual in, the RPMs will indeed drop off as soon as you let off on the gas. This makes for some really cool exhaust burbles, but I ended up having the ECU reprogrammed after the manual swap to get rid of the check engine light, and consequently, adding the RPM-hold behavior of factory manual cars. It makes shifting a lot easier and keeps boost going through the shift.
 

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Another vote here for a T5M. The S70 is a significantly updated 850, sort of a mid-cycle refresh on steroids.

The 850's automatic transmission is pretty much well matched to the engine, is pretty reliable, etc. but it's still an automatic. A manual transmission is a much different driving experience.
 

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I understand the manual love, but if you use your car as a daily driver in a city with traffic like I do, well the manual would have me completely exhausted by the time I got to work. The 850 with the auto is fine, and it powers through gears very nicely, and it tunes very well also.
 
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