The Volvo 850 is a compact executive car that was produced by the Swedish manufacturer Volvo Cars from 1991 to 1996. Designed by Jan Wilsgaard, the car was introduced in a saloon body style; an estate style was introduced in 1993.
The Volvo 850 was shown for the first time in June 1991, and the car marked a departure for Volvo, featuring multiple unprecedented features for the company; these included a transverse 5-cylinder engine driving the front wheels, a Delta-link rear axle, a side impact protection system, and a self-adjusting front seat belt mechanism
Development of what would become the 800 series first began in 1978. The so-called Project Galaxy ultimately resulted in the Volvo 850, the smaller 400 series, new manufacturing technologies as well as the Volvo Modular engine and M Gearbox lines. When development had finished, Volvo had spent the highest sum in the history of the country on an industrial project in Sweden.
The Volvo 850 was introduced in Europe in June 1991,as a 1992 model year car. It was launched with the slogan “A dynamic car with four unique innovations” which referred to the newly developed five cylinder transverse engine, the Delta-link rear axle, the Side Impact Protection System (SIPS), and the self-adjusting seatbelt reel for the front seats. Initially, only the saloon was available,badged as 850 GLT, and came with a choice of 2.5L or 2.0L 20V engines.
In 1992, the 850 was brought to the United States as a 1993 model, becoming Volvo’s first front-wheel drive (FWD) car on the U.S. market.A wide variety of Volvo 850 models were sold, with the first-generation models produced between 1993 and 1994.These included a CNG-powered Bi-Fuel model and a diesel engined 850 badged as 850 TDI. The 850 was available in both saloon and estate versions, with manual 5-speed or automatic 4-speed transmissions
For the 850, Volvo created what it called “Delta-link semi-independent rear suspension”. Volvo held a U.S. patent for rear axle bushings that compress under load, giving the Volvo 850 passive rear steering. It also has a tight turning circle, 10.2 m (33.5 ft), and is considered very maneuverable. By comparison, later large Volvos had a 11.9 m (39.0 ft) turning circle.