Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design

Diffuser on a Volvo?!

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!

Stop. Staring.

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.

Swedish interiors. Pretty.

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.

Nice in Red.

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

Volvo V60 T5

Why would anyone buy a station wagon these days? That’s the question I kept asking myself as I spent some time getting to know Volvo’s sleek station wagon.

The station wagon saw its demise when the mini van came along, and that saw its end when the SUV came along. The SUV is unfortunately also seeing its demise as the greenies throw red paint at unsuspecting SUV drivers these days. So things are not looking good for people-and-things carriers. The station wagon (SW), thus, might be coming back into the limelight again as it can do the people and thing carrying bit, with smaller engines, but it now battles against smaller Sports Activity Vehicles (read Kia Sportage & Land Rover Freelander) for family buying space.

Sleek aint it?

I had a fair look at competitors to the Volvo V60 and it’s pretty tough to narrow down exactly what people would be looking at when adding a SW to their purchase basket. Direct competitors are the BMW 3 Touring, the Mercedes C220 Wagon and then of course the Subaru Outback wagon. The main reason, surely, for buying within this market, is to fit lots of junk…in the trunk.

For this reason I set up some tests to see if the Volvo could still do some pretty standard fare activities that people with Volvos do. Test number 1 : Do two Labradors fit in the back of the Volvo, without squashing noses and tails in the process?

Dogs. Fitting

Well, yes. It’s no Prado in the rear, but it does the job, and does it well. A very welcome addition was the safety net that kept the dogs from jumping over into the back seat. If you do buy the SW to transport man’s best friend, then I suggest you don’t get any dark colour as their nails will scratch the hell out of the paint as they scramble to get in. (but that’s the problem with dogs getting into any car)

Can we come sit up front?


The Volvo looks pretty much as un-stationwagonny as any station wagon can look, with a tapering rear window and the nose from the S60, which is anything but boring. It’s probably one of the few station wagons that dad could drive to work and back, and family could pile into over the weekend / holiday to go places. I say this because it is so accomplished, un-stationwagon looking and brimming with luxury and power, that it would make for a comfortably every day cruiser to work and back.

This said, test number two is whether you can fit golf clubs in the back?

Obviously it passes this one with ease, so much ease in fact I’m sure you could fit 2/3 sets under the pull back cover. You could also replace golf clubs with dead hookers, and fit at least 2 of them in the rear, with a shovel and bag of lemons to finish the job.

Clubs for clubbing hookers

Enough with the massive rear end, let’s move things over to the other end of the car. Under the hood is a 2litre 4 cylinder turbo engine with 177kW and 320Nm on tap. It gives effortless thrust that could scare many a hot hatch off the line (0-100km/h in 7.5 seconds) and should still return around 11.3l/100km (claimed). Nail your foot to the floor and the dogs smack into the back window as the car easily gains momentum. It’s a fantastic engine, over and above also being surprisingly quiet at cruising speed, so does the job with 2 thumbs up.

So it’s got enough shove to make dad not look ultra uncool at the traffic lights. He also won’t be disappointed in the interior, as it’s a traditional modern Volvo fare inside. Volvos are so impeccably put together, with everything where you expect it, simplified as only Volvo can. Mates who drove in it commented that the interior is a huge step above the BMW and Mercedes cars they own, which is testament unto itself. I must agree. Everything you’d expect is standard, I’m not going to rattle off the list, but rather focus on things that usually aren’t, which is City Safety which can bring the car to a full stop right before you’re about to ding someone in traffic (more info here – It’s obviously safe as houses, so I’m not even going to bring up the extensive list of standard passive and active safety equipment, as we’ve come to expect from Volvo.

Labradors. Standard

Volvo offer different packages Essential, Excel, Elite and R-Design that add certain options to the car. Test unit was an Excel package with parking (needed!)  & rain sensor, memory electric seats (for driver) and some other gizmos. One thing I do despise about Volvo, is that when you stop and pull the key out the ignition the doors do not unlock, and you can’t double unlock them unless unlocked via the button / key. Retarded. Oh, and while I’m at it, no spare wheel? Really? Only a wheel repair kit? I’m sorry but that’s not good enough in SA where tire availability and repair is something we can’t rely on just yet.

From a space and comfort perspective, the V60 does a great job for 4 adults in superb comfort. Volvo seats are always perfect in their design, and this one does not let down in this department. A novel touch on the Sandstone beige interior the test car had, was that the rear of the front seats had been covered in black leather, to keep the kicking kiddies feet from blackening up the back of the driver and passenger seat. Still wouldn’t opt for this colour interior if I had kids.

Ride and handling is also pretty impressive for a SW. I threw her down the gauntlet (Waterfall Hills Estate roundabout road) and she handled brilliantly. It was no performance hatchback, but you’d never say you’re driving a SW, which is a job well done in my books. The fatter 16inch tires made the ride a real pleasure. It didn’t seem to sacrifice on handling at all, and just made for a comfortable and far less noisy ride, which definitely has its merits. (As much of a massive rims and sporty rubber type of guy I am)

Dogs & Volvo. Obedient

At R410 800 for this T5 Excel, it’s a little pricey. If it came in at just under the R400K mark I’d say it’s a great buy. Overall you get nowhere near the performance and kit from BMW, Mercedes or Subaru for this money so they are out. You buy into the lower end of the SUV market (Freelander and Fortuner) and definitely don’t get the sophistication, safety or looks. So it’s somewhere in between. I’d then probably opt for the T4 motor and slap on an R-Design pack to make it look extra cool. Yeah, that’s what I’d do.

Volvo S60 T6 AWD – 2010

Last year’s “Naughty Volvo” campaign that launched the S60 had me dare the Volvo twitter account (@volvocar_SA) to give me car to test out. They did. So we’re off to a good start. So, the 2010 Volvo S60 replaces the previous generation shape to align the all-new XC60 design language with a more aggressive grille. (Think whale shark) It also features revised engines and is built on the XC60 chassis. Full model line for now is a 2.0Turbo, 2.0Diesel, and this, the 3.0turbo All Wheel Drive. Volvo says this new S60 repositions it, as per CEO Stefan Jacoby’s 2010 address at the LA Auto Show, not only in direct competition to the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes, but reaffirms the unique Volvo identity. Unfortunately, I think somehow they drank that one by the wayside. Volvo’s were always strange in the way that they never quite had models that directly competed (E.g. Mercedes C-Class vs. BMW 3 Series) and here again. The larger S60 competes against the BMW 3 Series, but where does the S40 fall in then? Confused, yet a nice Volvo quirk. More worryingly, is that this Volvo has a bit of an identity crisis. A high school student that doesn’t know if it wants to be a professional sports star, or follow the grades and be an accountant. The variant I drove was the T6 AWD (3.0turbocharged 224kW 440NM), which is the top of the line model currently available. The campaign positions this S60 as a “naught Volvo” … I know, it’s like a young Cher, but hear me out. This S60 needs to capture the current mid-segment market that is dominated by BMW’s and Audi’s. The Mid 30 exec that still wants something with a badge, performance and a slight sporty appeal. The S60, although qualifying on unique looks, and outright performance (0-100km/h in 6.3sec) makes a good case, it unfortunately leaves some gaps. It has one hell of an engine, with loads of grunt at any speed, and a fantastic AWD system that glues the power delivery to the road. The problem, comes in with the suspension and the gearbox. Volvo has employed the Sports suspension here and it leaves a lot to be desired, as it crashes over bumps (could be the 18inch wheels) and undulations. The gearbox, although great in sport mode, is still a little too tailored too relaxed driving. To ad insult to injury, the seats are supremely comfortable. Problem how? Well if we’re trying to be sporty here, I don’t want to float from door to door as I throw the S60 into corners. So they have ticked some of the boxes, and ticked em good, and then left others in the days of the station wagon Volvo. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an excellent car, I just think it’s trying to juggle too many balls, and dropping some in the process. If you want a sporty car, it’s half way there. If you want a supremely comfortable cruiser, it’s half way there too. There are however some things they got spot on: Safety As with any Volvo, this car is packed to the brim with standard safety equipment, including the usual package of airbags, ABS, EBD, Advanced Stability control and the list goes on. This model came with optional City Safety, a system that should stop those low speed bumper bashings from happening. It worked the one time I didn’t intend to try it, stopping the car before I rolled into the car in front of me. There’s some T&C’s that come with that, so read your manual carefully, and don’t trust it to save a bad driver. Another options is BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) which notifies you of motor vehicles in your blind spot through a little orange light right by the mirrors. It works well, but you could just look in your mirror you lazy ass. Interior The interior is truly another Volvo masterpiece, with a simplified layout, and all the functions operating through the central LCD screen. Every material and button is of phenomenal quality, to the touch, and to the eye. There is loads of space, as well as boot that can swallow at least 2 golf bags. I cannot fault the interior at all. Exterior Although it might not be to the liking of everyone, by George thank God it doesn’t! Finally, a Volvo that splits opinion. I really like the looks, the short, tight rear, and mammoth front end (which is a bit of a bitch to park. Thank goodness for park distance control front and rear) Everywhere I stopped, I had at least 1 person ask me about the car, and commented that they liked the looks. Something I’ve never heard about a Volvo, so they’ve done something right. Performance and Drive Train The engine is a beauty, with loads of grunt in any gear, and the Haldex all-wheel drive system allows instant power delivery to the wheels. There’s a nice 6 cylinder growl when you get up in the rev range and I love the way the all-wheel drive system balances the power delivery just right, without understeer or heavy nose dives. Once again, I can’t fault these two. If I could fix one thing, I’d give it adaptive suspension. I think it would make a more complete 2-tone package, that allowed you to tear off the traffic lights and around the bends in sport mode when you wanted, but also allowed some more relaxed cruising in comfort. The suspension is really the only big sore that keeps that from happening, so if you can go for the adaptive suspension, I probably would. That said, be careful on the options list, it seems there are quite a few boxes to tick, which is a pity, as Volvo’s of old used to come standard with the works. Overall, it’s an amazing car, is unique in its own right, whilst offering a supremely luxurious interior and some fun when you want it. Most buyers will feel this is a perfect fit, and for the majority, it works incredibly well. Sure, if you really want a focused, sporty drive, you’d probably opt for its competition, but it stands out from the crowd, and for that, I can’t fault it. More detail on the web here – Pictures referenced off