In the early 1980's, Volvo went a long way to shedding its "Safe But Boxy" image when it released the 360GLT. From design, the 360GLT was developed to appeal more to the motoring enthusiast, harking back to a time when Volvo did in fact have a reputation for building quality sporting variants such as the 142GT and 242GT.
Smaller, lighter and thus more nimble than its counterparts, the moment you got behind the wheel you knew there was plenty of performance on offer. There was a superbly appointed dash,
body hugging seats and an ideally positioned gear lever.
The transaxle style rear end/transmission ensured an almost perfect front/rear distribution of weight and once you had the opportunity to spend a few minutes behind the wheel, you soon discovered just how wonderfully firm, fast and precise the slick gearshift was.
Powered by a 2.0 liter fuel injected 85 kW engine, a raspy note from the exhaust would always remind you of the sporting aspirations of the car, although there was enough sound-proofing to ensure it never became irritating. The handling was precise, and although there was some slight understeer, it remained extremely predictable, ensuring the driver remained confident at all times.
Acceleration was excellent, the flexible engine having the benefit of well spaced gear ratio's. Gears one to four were low enough to keep the engine fully on the boil, thus leaving the tall fifth as as a comfortable, fast and economical tourer.
The 360GLT offered a firm ride, although it was not uncomfortable. Shod with Pirelli P6 tires running on attractive alloy wheels, these combined with an excellent disc/drum brake set-up to afford precise braking under all conditions.
The potential on the rally track for the 360 was obvious, as demonstrated by its predecessor the 343, which swept almost unchallenged to victory in the 1980
European Ralycross Championships.
The 360 offered plenty of room, althouugh with a big drivers a/or front seattpassengers loom was limited in the back. Short of that however, even the rear seat had plenty of headroom and shoulder space - and with the fold-down seatback the 360 opened up as a really versatile luggage carrying car.
Instrumentation was comprehensive, the cooling and heating system more than adequate, while the standard Volvo AM/FM radio cassette stereo was very good.