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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. The automobile 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.
The estate version of the 850 went on sale in February 1993, on all markets. The 850 saloon features an interior space of 2.80 cubic metres (99 cu ft). This is slightly more than the 2.78 cubic metres (98 cu ft) of the 2004 Mercedes-Benz E-Class, even though the car is reasonably compact on the outside. This space is achieved by mounting the in-line 5-cylinder engine transversely (from the left to the right of the car) under the hood. Full power equipment was standard on all 1993 850 models, with a sunroof and built-in child booster seat in the back folding arm rest.
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