ROCKLEIGH, NJ -- Conceived as a fun-to-drive car for the 90s, the Volvo 850 GLT was designed from the proverbial clean sheet of paper. While it's a nimble car created specifically for driving enthusiasts, Volvo's philosophy of responsible car design shines through.

To meet their objectives, Volvo engineers came up with four new patented designs, two safety-related designs and two performance-related designs which contribute to the 850's excellent handling characteristics.

To maximize the packaging efficiency of the mid-size 850, Volvo engineers created a front-wheel-drive car with a transversely-mounted engine. To maintain the good maneuverability and tight turning circle Volvos are famous for, they needed an ultra short manual transmission that would fit transversely beside the new 5-cylinder inline engine. So Volvo designed, developed, built, and patented a 5-speed manual gearbox which uses three shafts instead of the usual two. The result is an extraordinarily short, smooth shifting, fun-to-use transmission that even has a fully synchronized reverse!

The innovative Delta-link semi-independent rear suspension is the second performance-related Volvo patented design on the 850 GLT. It combines the advantages of an independent semi-trailing suspension and a beam axle to provide excellent road holding characteristics. Delta-link is designed to provide passive rear steering, thanks to deformable rubber bushings which permit the rear axle to shift slightly as cornering loads increase. This allows the 850 GLT to be very responsive to a driver's steering input and ads to the fun-to-drive nature of the car.

The third Volvo-patented design is simple and imminently logical. The front seat belts of the 850 GLT each have a retractor reel positioned vertically inside the B-pillar. The opening in the pillar and the reel itself are both about twice as wide as the belt itself. This permits the belt to automatically adjust on the reel according to the shoulder height of the driver or front passenger. It is a mechanically elegant design and a truly comfortable solution.

Finally, there is the Side Impact Protection System (SIPS) which is designed to help absorb energy during side collisions. SIPS uses reinforced B-pillars, reinforced roof rails and doorsills, and tubular members in the front seat cushions to spread the energy of a side impact across as much of the car's structure as possible. This helps to reduce side intrusion and lower the acceleration forces acting on the occupants. Thanks to SIPS, the 850 already meets government standards required of all cars sold in North America in 1997, a full four years ahead of schedule.

The Volvo 850 GLT is not simply a new car. It embodies all of Volvo's newest thinking. It retains all of the values people have learned to expect from Volvo and adds some new dimensions that you will probably find very enjoyable.