I know. I know. The 2013 models have already arrived and I’m just now writing about the 2012 S60 R-Design? What can I say? I’ve been busy. In any event, the R-Design version of the S60 is quite a car. As you can see in the pictures, Volvo tweaked the S60 T6 to make it look a bit more aggressive. The front spoiler sticks out further and the 18″ IXION wheels are darker than the T6’s SLEIPNER wheels. It makes for a quietly aggressive look, but something you notice right away.
Unlike most reviewers, I didn’t have access to a race track or airfield, so my drive was limited to the back roads of Kirtland and Willoughby, Ohio. At one point, where the road was fairly steep winding up a hill, I floored the accelerator and the car leaped forward with no difficulty. That’s because the R-Design has a 3.0L Inline six cylinder with 325 hp and 354 lb. ft. of torque. And in all actuality, you don’t notice it until you need it. But when you do, there’s plenty of power to do whatever you want. The only hesitation I experienced was at 40 mph when I floored it again. For whatever reason, the turbo took a moment to respond but then shot forward quickly. I suppose there are a few spots like that with any turbo-charged vehicle.
When Volvo first came out with the R-Design trim level, I was a bit disappointed. It was nothing like the original S60R or the R wagons of the 90-00’s. In those, a 300 hp five cylinder beat you to death when you dared to stomp on the accelerator. The original R-Design was nothing like that. You basically got some styling differences such as blue gauges, embroidered leather seats, and some external fascia mods. It was quite the letdown for those wanting “the real deal.” But things are different now. The 2012 Volvo S60 R-Design has enough power to make things exciting again, not to mention a beefed up suspension to keep the wheels on the road.
“Somewhere a pale yellow 850R wagon may be cracking a smile, though, as Volvo’s upcoming 2012 S60 R-Design and XC60 R-Design mark the return of power upgrades to the Volvo fold.” —Car & Driver
Now that the power is back, the design mods are something to appreciate. But is 325 hp really enough? That’s only 25 hp more than the T6 model. Larry Matteo of Leikin Volvo emphatically says that it is. He claims the throttle response is much better and that the car sits lower and has a more comfortable ride. Interesting. That reminds me of the difference between the SAAB 900 Turbo and the SPG. Throttle response was the defining difference between the two. But how good is the difference between the S60 T6 and the R-Design? I guess that’s something you’ll have to experience for yourself. Stop by for a test drive some time soon. (That … or wait for a production version of the 500 hp Polestar edition.)
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