GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS

1988 Volvo 240 GLT
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green_volvo240.jpg

SPEX

Year: 1988```````````````````````````````````Country: Sweden

Class: Mid-size
Type: 5-door station wagon
Host: GT4 & GT5


Price as tested:
GT4: $5,571 ('80s used car lot). Can also be won as a prize. 
GT5: $14,087 (used car lot)

GT4 Mileage as Tested: 61,656.9
GT5 Mileage as Tested: 14,390.0

Construction: unit steel

Length: 188.6" // Width: 67.3" // Height: 57.5"
Wheelbase: 104.3"
Overhang: 7 feet
Track: 56.3" [F] 53.5" [R]
Ground Clearance: 7.9"
Weight: 4,165 pounds

Steering: rack & pinion
Turn Radius: 32.2 feet

Layout: front engine / rear-drive

Tires: 195/75-14
F. Suspension: MacPherson strut, panhard rods, coils, anti-roll bars
R. Suspension: solid axle, panhard rods, coils, anti-rolll bars, shox
Brakes: vented discs (no ABS in GT5)

Engine: 2.3 liter SOHC inline-4
Construction:
Aspiration: natural
Fuel System: EFi
Valves / Cyl: 2
Bore x Stroke: 3.78 x 3.15"
Compression: 9.8:1

                          GT4                        GT5
Horsepower: 127 @ 6,000 rpm      126 @ 6,000
Eng. Torque: 139.8 @ 3,000           139 @ 3,000

Credits per HP: $43.87                    $111.80
Pounds per HP: 32.79                        33.05
Lbs per Torque: 29.75                        29.96
HP per Liter: `````55.21                        54.8

GT4 Idle: 750 // Redline: 6,000 // RPM Limit: 7,000
GT5 Idle: 800 // Redline: 6,000 // RPM Limit: 7,000

Transmission: 5-speed manual
Differential: open

*all testing done after oil-change was performed in both games. The car in GT5 did not receive an engine rebuild

                       GT4                          GT5
0-60 mph: 14.600 seconds             14.433
0-100 mph: 49.683 secs                 48.035
0-150 mph: nil                                 lol

400 M: 20.599 @ 76 mph          19.999 @ 71 mph
1 Kilom: 36.632 @ 91 mph        36.201 @ 91 mph


100-zero mph: 3.617 seconds        6.85 seconds

Top gear RPM @ 60 mph: 2,600

Top Speed at Redline
1st: 26 mph
2nd: 52 mph
3rd: 83 mph
4th: 115.63 @ 6,100 rpm
5th: 115.xx @ 5,000 rpm (GT4)
       114.0 @ 5,000 rpm (GT5, recorded in 5th gear)



volvowagon_slide.jpg

-----------EXTERIOR / HISTORY-------------


Conspicuously absent from any Gran Turismo game (and possibly most other racing games) are any offerings from Scandinavia. I'm talking of those two long-standing automobile manufacturers from Sweden in particular.
I remember reading on some bulletin board long ago that both Saab and Volvo were contacted to possibly appear in Gran Turismo 2. Both companies turned down PD's offer; the rumor being that they didn't want their world-renowned safety image getting debunked. Both Saab and Volvo have this huge reputation for making safe, solid cars, you see. According to the statement (which, let's keep in mind could just be a rumor), neither company was interested in seeing their safe and solid cars being thrashed about in a videogame.  

GT4 is the first Gran Turismo to feature something from Europe's continental north. Actually, there are two cars from Volvo in this game: the older wagon of this review and a newer sedan. If we are to assume Saab also was asked to appear in GT4, we can also assume Saab again refused. No Saab, but at least we have Volvo. Now let's talk about Volvo's big introduction into the world of GT.

Most everyone, at some points of their lives, have had moments when they really needed to make a good impression. Here's a guy who's got his first day on the job for instance, and he's needing to impress his boss. Here's a kid striving to get an "A" while giving a creative writing exam to her teacher. She studied hard and lost sleep, as the tiny bags under her eyes attest. Here's a lady who has made pot roast for the first time, nervous about an upcoming dinner party being thrown because her husband just started a new job, and her kid lost sleep over an important test at school.

In all these cases, we have people trying to impress one another...trying to do their best.   

So, the pressure's on! After all these years, Volvo has finally stepped up to the plate. It's their BIG MOMENT; their grand introduction into the world of Gran Turismo! One might think they'd prepare for such a moment, holding meetings where bizarre PowerPoint presentations are studied, and multiple colored graphs created via Microsoft Excel get hoarded over by executives deep in thought. Comparisons are drawn, coffee is brewed around the clock, as these men and women make preparations, all in an effort to make sure Volvo's BEST is being represented. 

Long ago in the first Gran Turismo (1997), Chevrolet introduced many gamers outside of America to their Corvette and Camaro Z28. TVR introduced us to their Cerbera and Griffith. Nissan introduced entire portions of the world to their Skylines. Et cetera. These are all examples of various car-makers offering us their best...trying to impress us with some of their top models. It's a story, really, which has appeared in every Gran Turismo if you think about it.

Just because these cars are being put into videogames doesn't mean there's not some level of importance being stressed here; after all, these cars are actually real. People can really buy them with real money (not just imaginary credits). Laugh if you want, but it is possible a prospective car-buyer in the real world could get swayed one way or another after driving something in a videogame. Hence, there is a level of importance, here.

Chevy didn't throw a Cavalier or Vega in that first game, for instance; Chevy gave us their best models from the mid 1990s. Ford has given us Mustangs and Focuses over the years, not Pintos and Fairmonts. Granted, Gran Turismo also includes many lesser models for sale as well as the best, but in many cases, even these lesser models can find their niche in the world of racing.   

So here's Volvo, about to possibly impress us. They should provide their very best, or at least something worthy of an appearance in a racing game, correct? And what have they offered? An aged, bulky station wagon? The sort of wagon I used to see hauling upper middle-class kids to school years ago? The sort of vehicle well-suited for miles of everyday traffic, which isn't especially fast, sporty, or even mildly interesting. Is Volvo out of their minds???

The 240 GLT Estate seems an odd choice for a racing game, especially since Volvo has created some sportier models over the years, like their handsome P1800. The 240 GLT hasn't got anything "GT-ish" to its credit. Those headlight wipers look kinda nifty, but let's face it; even a 240 sedan or coupe would make more sense as racers. But to those naysayers who dismiss the 200 series of Volvos altogether, shame on you! Volvo certainly had their days with successful rally racing many years ago. But it still seems odd...this clunky wagon...in a racing game.

With GT5, PD started offering us car descriptions for us to read, and so I took the opportunity to try to learn why the 240 Estate makes an appearance. But there's nothing to learn. No mention of a PD employee owning such a car (and wanting to see it brought into vituality), nor is there any mention of PD simply trying to play a joke on us gamers. There's a lot of talk about Volvo's safety reputation, about how the Volvo wagon in particular became a success, but no absolutely information at all about why this one was chosen. For a racing game.    

But hold on...let's not start judging before the cup has been spilled!

If you think about it, PD has chosen many odd vehicles over the years; many vehicles which (at first) looked as though they'd be ultimate losers! Wagons, MPVs and even mini-vans have all appeared in Gran Turismo games. The Honda Accord Wagon? Honda Element? Honda Odyssey? Toyota Caldina?? Chrysler PT Cruiser? Mazda Demio????!? Yet from this list of wagons, multi-purpose vehicles, and mini-vans, one can't simply assume a zero-win career shall be guaranteed. I've personally tuned many of these civilian, utilitarian vehicles and created wins with them. Perhaps there is some hope for the '88 Volvo GLT after all?

Though boxy, safe, and a bit boring, the 240 GLT Estate is at least identifyable as a familiar face. It's a virtual tank, too. Many have accused this car of uglyness, but to me the 240 is not even interesting enough to be ugly. I have many real-life friends who (it seems) think Volvo's 200 series is something bordering on holyness; they praise them as much as yuppies praise BMW's M-series. If you ask these friends of mine, after awhile you'd get the impression that the 240 is one of the best automobiles made, ever. These tough, durable cars last forever, sometimes well past 200,000 or even 300,000 miles. But eventually these friends of mine would also tell you, well actually they'll confess, that in some ways the 240 isn't that great. They might need a reality-check to come to this conclusion, of course. They're expensive to maintain, for instance. And the reality is that speed is not something the 240 is famous for.     

Driving this car around, one will notice its slowness right away. But it's not just a lack of power that's at fault. Polyphony Digital (for whatever reason) also tacked almost a thousand extra pounds to this car's weight!  Real-life 240 GLTs weigh-in at just over 3,100 pounds. The car's game weight of 4,165 is just as ridiculous and phony as that $3.25 bottle of water I bought at the airport yesterday. (Hey, I was desperately thirsty and don't drink tap water, okay?) It is this extra weight which will form the bulk of our problems as we drive and race the 240 around.


  

Volvo 240 GLT heavily braking...
volvo240_sparks.jpg
...notice the sparks behind the car due to its front spoiler scraping the ground!

----------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN----------



Ha! This part of the review's gonna be a cinch! Does this "Estate" wagon have any power? No. Is it slow? Yes. Next chapter. Lol.

But Dammit, this car has upgrades. Three NA kits and two turbos. Ah well, looks like I'm not watching X-files reruns tonight. :banghead:

Driving this car while it's still stock, oil-change or no oil-change, is like driving a 4,000 pound Kei car. Just imagine driving a very heavy Daihatsu Move around and you've got the idea. Do you think you knew the meaning of slow? Think again. Everything about this car is slow, which is not just caused by its lack of energy. Even the way the 240 leans and directs its girth in corners is ..... just
...slow....

Every hill becomes the car's next nightmare. Going uphill, one might start to feel like they've just stumbled into one of those dreams where they're tying to run away from something, but can't move their feet fast enough. This car is like that. But even downhills feel slow in a 240! Going down a hill, the car does start gaining inertia, I can see the speedometer is moving to the right, but things don't feel like they're going fast enough!

Every upshift has the driver wondering if they'd rather trade this car for a tractor. Maybe a tractor might do a better job at the tracks? It's a question that after a while does possibly get considered, as the driver slowly starts losing sanity. The only thing that isn't slow about this car is the speed at which many gamers sell it back to the dealership.

Gearing is amazingly tall, too, considering such a lack of power. Rarely will any driver need 4th or 5th gear during racing situations, for instance, especially while power is near its lowest. On the other hand, second gear feels awkwardly short at many points, forcing us to use 3rd at times when it seems the car didn't get enough stump-pulling momentum out of 2nd. Third gear? The Volvo's B23 engine greets 3rd gear like a friend it would rather ignore most of the time, even if the track is flat and straight.  

But despite all this, the 240 GLT "Estate" soldiers on nonetheless, seemingly unconcerned and unapologetic about its syrupy behavior. It's like that guy in the office who's always behind everyone else. At some point, he gets the job done; but don't expect him to do so quickly. 

The engine itself is Volvo's B23 unit, a small four-cylinder that might possibly have more success if it were in some other environment. Like in a lighter compact hatchback type of car, for instance. During the Volvo 200-series's life, there were almost a dozen different-sized engines used, some which were even smaller than the 2.3 in our game-car, but also some which were larger. One could get a couple six-cylinder engines for this car during some model years, a V6 or a straight-6, which makes me wonder why PD and/or Volvo opted for one of the sluggier powerplants. Granted, I'm not saying those sixes were speed demons either, but they are at least rated with higher horsepower numbers.

There's other odd stuff. The engine's peak power is also where the redline starts, meaning manual drivers are going to be redlining this car a lot! Fortunately, the redline is actually 1,000 rpms deep, so the RPM limit rarely becomes an issue. With full turbo upgrades in GT4 (racing exhaust, crank balancing, etc), Volvo's parts shop happily gives us an amazing (sarcasm) 267 horses with 236 foot-pounds. I didn't bother to find out how much a Stage 3 NA system puts out, as this would require wasting money, but we're talking approximately 260 horsepower, here. 
 
Ouch. Two strikes. Three strikes and this car's out. Maybe I can finish this review shortly, then. X-files, here I come.

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-----------------CHASSIS / HANDLING------------------


Here we have a fairly predictable chapter. It's one of those chapters that almost seems pointless to write, simply because we all know this car's gonna be a monster on those tracks (monster as in "awfully bad").   

GT4
If the Volvo 240 GLT appeared in the first Gran Turismo (GT1), we could be certain it would handle one way: Probably it would display mild understeer with lots of goofy (but tame-able) oversteer. In GT2, there might be more understeer with less oversteer, but it's hard to say. For GT3: A-spec, this Volvo would have been one of those many cars which was dropped from the roster, so there's not much reason to consider the 240 here.

GT4? One doesn't need a crystal ball to predict how the 240, which PD misrepresented with lots of unnecessary weight, will drive in GT4. It's a boxy, clunky, overburdened mess, and I was almost thinking I might be able to get away with skipping this section of the review altogether, and finally see what happens next between Mulder and Sculley during their next episode. I just got the first season of X-files on Netflix, you see, and I'm almost as addicted to this show as I am to Gran Turismo. Anyways, I was thinking the '88 Volvo's CHASSIS / HANDLING section might get written like this:

You paid for this thing? Ha! Enjoy your 15 seconds of embarassing fame as you toil out of the dirt! You won it? Good. Now you can sell it!

But the truth is, this would all be yet another vast assumption, which means I gotta finish writing this. :-/ 

What surprised me is that this car does have its small moments of track dominance here and there, but this is mostly up to how skilled the driver is. This doesn't seem like a car which would take much skill to move around, but skill actually comes into play quite often since power and handling are both no-gos.

Beggars, winos, and other assorted homeless people all over the world still might possess small amounts of money stashed away here and there, they might have their own twisted sense of business acumen, therefore there are a few homeless out there who actually have some smarts. And that's the way this car is. It has its small niche on the tracks, which to say the least, is something of a surprise. Sunday Cup, FR Challenge, Clubman Cup, and a few others can be finished with a 240 GLT. There are even a few Special Condition races which a very skilled driver might be able to make lots of money with while piloting this mail truck. 

Driving on N tires, the 240 is predictably bad, but not completely horrible. The car's weight has a tendency to keep it plotting along slowly at least, meaning that understeer tends to be minimal at times, but mostly because the car is too slow to understeer! As a rear-drive car, the 240 might have issues if it appeared in Gran Turismo 1 or 2 while power is low, but in GT4, there isn't enough power to guarantee any oversteer or loss of traction at first. Only with upgraded power do we start to have problems.

But it's also quite a surprise that some of the problems this car faces as we buy more power (ha ha) can usually be dealt with thru tuning. Fully-powered (or nearly so), the rear does start getting quite recalcitrant at times, for instance, but most of this can be avoided with a 1-way differential. The lowly-priced Sport suspension can also work some early wonders. Since this wagon sits 200 mm off the ground while stock, lowering it, beefing up those dampers, and adding some camber actually can help this car a lot.

GT5
Yes, the GLT made the port from GT4, and yes it still appears in this game almost a thousand pounds heavier than it should be. I drove this car several times over the years, and in several races, but the follow impressions are from the Euro Hot Hatch League races. The Volvo 240 can also be raced in the Sunday Cup, Compact Car Series, and FR Challenge too, but the EHHL should provide us a chance to really see what this car is made of, since this Volvo enters this one extremely underpowered.    

First thing that's noticed are the brake distances into the downhill portions at Eiger Norwald. Whooo boy they are LONG. I've recently been driving an '80 Renault 5 Turbo at this track, on the same grade of tires (soft comforts), and with no ABS, yet the Volvo's braking is much, much worse. Of course, it is also much, much heavier. Thanks, PD. 

There are some merits, however. For one thing, I am noticing that even with a lack of ABS, the Estate rarely gets difficult while braking, even if one starts too late. You'll hear a tire or two start to squeal as the brakes lock up, and the fronts might start to overheat, but it's rare there will be any sort of disaster because of this. Damage control is surprisingly easy to employ.  

Once into various turns, most of our concerns will be directing this one into a proper line. It doesn't really understeer so much as it needs lots and lots of space to actually steer. Remember that even in GT4, there wasn't much understeer to fear. I thought there would be some here at Eiger, simply because this track is so tight, but understeer still happens to be minimal. Interesting.

The main difference from GT4 to GT5, of course, is with oversteer, not understeer. We never had to worry about oversteer in GT4, and we still won't with this next game. Well, not at first. While the car is low-powered (and upwards towards 200 hp) there is simply nothing going on back there, nothing but traction and grip, that is. Only out of the tightest of hairpins will an inside wheel start to protest, and even then it might take a second or two to make this happen. So limited-slip tuning? We can skip that part. 

It's once we start piling on those engine and turbo stages, that's when the fun starts to start. All a sudden, we realize that spacious rear starts to become a liability at times. Getting too hot into a turn can cause the Volve to swing wide from the rear with swaying!  YES! All a sudden, this 80's-era school & grocery vehicle starts to become (gulp) fun to drive. There, I said it. Once we've got over 200 horses to work with (I have yet to fully tune one of these in this game) light moments of wheelspin start happening more frequently. Though it'll still take more power, and possibly less weight, to drift a 240 GLT, it does become possible for those who really want to take things to that level.      

Summary
Overall, do not expect the GT version of a evangelical miracle when dealing with this car in GT4. Instead, sell the '88 Volvo 240 GLT Estate to the nearest hippy or anarchist you can unload on. Sell it, and don't look back!  This one does have more merits in GT5, but this is sadly because many of GT5's racing happens to be easier.
 

silver_88volvo-rear.jpg

PROS----------------------------------

1). Cheap, inexpensive, and common in the '80s vintage used car lot (GT4), if somebody for whatever reason actually wants to buy one of these.

2). Those who may fuss about this car's enormous price tag (ha) will have little worry, for the 240 GLT can also be won in GT4 from the European Hot Hatch League races.

3). Unpretentious styling.

4). A novelty to drive for about five or ten minutes. With power, LSD, and suspension upgrades, the 240 GLT does start to get kind of fun since it's a rear-drive wagon in a world inhabited mostly nowadays by front or all-wheel drive wagons. This is truer in GT5 than it is in 4.

5). Skilled drivers will have a new challenge to meet should they try to take on the few races this Volvo feels somewhat confident handling. Do it right, and they may actually wind up with a profit margin, too.

6). Lack of true understeer in either GT4 or 5. GT5's Volvo can also exhibit oversteer in many fun and various forms, if one starts to dial up some power. Since this "safe" car did not feature ABS in real-life, we can also have some fun sliding into turns and whatnot in GT5.

7). A virtual tank. Stable over the bumpy parts, and other cars will have a harder time trying to punt and push this one out of their way.    



CONS----------------------------------------

1). Slow, slow, and more slow.

2). Geared for "economy" (which means for slowness).

3). Several power upgrades are available, turbos and NA kits, yet the car still remains slow.

4). PD screwed up the 240 GLT's weight. Literally. Like when I say "screwed up", PD literally screwed this car's pounds upward. A thousand pounds upward. Translation: slower than it should be.

5). Boring design. Granted, it is a station wagon and not in competition with Ferrari. But it's still a humble, boring-looking automobile.

6). Handling fit for a mail truck. Lots of diving, leaning, and goofy, distracting behavior.   

7). Peak power conveniently located (sarcasm) at redline, or sometimes beyond it.

8). GT5: though the car has enormous mirrors, they're almost useless during races. The side mirrors cannot be seen unless one turns the driver's head, and the center-view mirror is halfway off the screen! 

9). Why (seriously) is this car in our racing game? Especially knowing the fact that Volvo has made more sporting models over the years.

10). Those who sell this car may find themselves delighted at the pile of credits awaiting in their bank accounts. That was more sarcasm.
       

Published: December 12, 2010
GT5 info: December 23, 2012

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