Well you don’t often hear people saying the words sporty and Volvo in the same sentence. It’s kind of like hooker and virgin or Art and great-national-anthem being in the same sentence together. So it’s not something that sits comfortable in ones mind, and look at what Volvo delivered…the S60 T6 AWD R-Design
I have reviewed a normal S60 T6 AWD before so I’m not going to go into much detail about the S60, but rather focus on the specifics around the R-Design changes.
So let’s start off with the exterior, which is what differentiates this Volvo from any other. The R-Design kit, which is essentially a cosmetic and accessorized performance / racing pack, ads some very attractive and sporty cues to the traditional S60 looks. There’s a black front grille, modified bumpers, rear spoiler, and most noticeably the rear diffuser with prominent twin tail pipes. I say let’s make every Volvo look like this, it’s a damn good start to getting the already quirky Volvo to stand out and most people, including myself were pleasantly surprised at how sporty they had made it look. Included in this pack were 18inch wheels that would give you some good street cred in the Vale, as well as aluminum mirror covers. Hooray!
Interior changes include aluminum interior trim, which was actual aluminum and not some sprayed milk bottle plastic. R-Design seats looked like they were fashioned out of a diving suit, and would be at home on a performance boat. They were, as always, supremely comfortable and more supportive than the traditional S60 seats. Steering wheel and some other bits are given the R-Design leather treatment. As I’ve said time and time again, it’s a pleasant place to be in a Volvo, the S60 being no exception to the rule. Some commented on the dashboard being a little daunting in size, however I can fault very little of the interior.
The S60 R-Design does absolutely no changes to the engine, the flagship T6 (a 3litre turbocharged six cylinder petrol engine) pushing out 224kW and 440Nm of torque through Volvo’s All-wheel drive system. That’s more than a BMW 335i and 20kW short of the Audi S4. To be frank, it’s fucking fast. 0-100km/h is dealt with in 6.2seconds … It’s deceptive as you really don’t realize how fast you’re picking up speed.. There is probably a little more perceived involvement in drive due to the sporty suspension, tyres and AWD system, however it’s definitely not as much a drivers car as the other two above. That said, it is lighting quick in a straight line, so quick in fact that the engine will easily pull up past 200km/h before you even notice it in wind noise or drive. Excellent stuff that.
The AWD system features something called “Instant Traction” which shifts power to the front or rear wheels dependant on the need in “lightning speed”. I must be honest, it’s not exactly as “lightning quick” as they claim it to be. I’m no tosser, I understand it’s not exactly an M3 track competitor, but pushing into a hard corner you’ll find it running wide, the traction control come on, the power being transferred to a wheel that has some of it, and then the power being cut. It’s not a very smooth system and seems to react at the speed of the dial up modem, and not lighting-zeus-speed. The problem with the S60’s has always been that the engine sits so far ahead of the front wheels which means there’s a lot of weight in the nose of the car, which immediately sends the nose wide and the stability systems in attack mode to fix that. This is really only when pressing on really hard, and you wouldn’t notice this in daily relaxed driving.
Sigh… another shortcoming is the Geartronic automatic gearbox, which leaves quite a bit to be desired when it comes to sporty shifting. It’s unfortunately (as I said about the traditional S60) the biggest weakness of the car. It does a great job when you’re just cruising along, however when pressing on it hunts for gears and you’ll be so irritated that you end up just putting it into manual. However, when that happens, you’ll wait while the car puts in a request for the shift to Swedish headquarters, the shift is than approved by the team, and then gear engaged. Not ideal.
Overall, it’s a very good-looking car…almost too good looking for what it’s going to deliver. This said, Volvo is already seeing a bias towards male drivers in the S60 range, which is against their traditional female bias…and this is good news. They are obviously hoping to attract some more macho to the range with this R-Design kit … yeah … guess it’ll work
In my eyes, it unfortunately just doesn’t come together nicely. Sporty and Volvo come together, but just not too well in this S60. It’s not water and oil, but it’s not strawberries and cream either. With great sporty looks and a beast of an engine, it’s kind of just let down as it’s not really that involved, nor really excellent in handling, nor really snappy in the gear changes. I understand what the sport kit is about, much like the guys with a 320i BMW slap on an M-Sport kit, but here it’s got half the goods, and then just seems to not really bring it all home.
Pricing, you’re looking upwards of R460 000 in this guise. So if you’re looking to just spruce up any of the S60 models, it’s worth the extra bit of cash if you can handle a sportier ride and want that sporty look.
You can find more information on this vehicle at www.volvo.co.za