Swedish automaker, Volvo , has introduced a new lineup of R-Design-badged models at the New York Auto Show.
One of them, the S60 R-Design, is a pleasant surprise.
Volvos don’t usually have the kind of presence that its European counterparts command in an auto show as big as New York. But it’s doing its part to ensure that people still remember that they have something to offer that can impress a lot of people.
The S60 R-Design carries its share of improved dynamics over the standard S60 model. Some you’ll notice right off the bat, others you’ll notice only after you take it out for a spin.
In any case, the entire program is certainly worth looking into, at least if you’re in the market for an affordable luxury car with some added components that can drive up its appeal.
In the end, the S60 R-Design is a step up from the standard S60, and at this point, that’s as good as anything when it comes to Volvo.
Find out more about the Volvo S60 R-Design after the jump
Don’t expect an overwhelmingly different exterior look for the R-Design trim of the S60. Certainly, Volvo has never been one to go all out on radical designs and these models are no different.
What you can expect though are subtle modifications, each tailored to give the S60 R-Design a more expressive face. The frameless Tech Matte-Black grille has high-gloss black stripes, a revolutionary new design wrinkle, at least as far as Volvo’s standards are concerned.
A refined R-Design emblem was also added to differentiate it from the standard models as is the reworked front bumper, which now has a rounded end while the DRL lights added in the outer corners reinforce the car’s sporty aura.
At the back, there’s a new diffuser with its own aero fins that are now flanked by new high-tech R-Design tailpipes, as well as a new set of 19-inch wheels.
To be fair, the interior of the S60 R-Design is much plusher than the standard model. Guess that’s what being sporty for Volvo is all about, huh?
The first of many highlights is a new sport seat with a black nubuck textile and perforated leather that are now standard for all R-Design models. An R-Design logo has been embroidered to give the seat added sporty flavor. As an added option, owners can opt to add more panache to the seats with a full range of leather options.
The cabin of the S60 is an attractive mix of functionality and design, one that’s only highlighted by the variety of added goodies that are part of the R-Design program. The blending inlays create a unique and contrasting look that combines black leather and contrast stitching with a black headliner.
Adding the final touch is a new stainless-steel tread plate with a bright blue ‘R’ in the R-Design emblem.
Overall, the interior is a pleasant surprise. Volvo managed to succeed creating a sporty and luxurious interior without having to go overboard with high-end materials that would’ve looked out of place on the S60 to begin with.
The S60 R-Design comes with a choice of three powertrain options, which incidentally are the three same engines found on all standard versions. The first one, the D2 diesel, comes with only 115 while the most powerful model, the 3.0-liter T6 gas engine produces 304 horsepower 324 pound-feet of torque with a 0-60 mph time of 5.9 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.
Should the T6’s output prove to be a little less than what you expected, you can opt to get the Polestar software and boost the S60 T6’s output to 329 horsepower.
For the relative lack of overwhelming changes done on the S60 R-Design, Volvo did wonders improving the model’s chassis, providing more strength and lowering the setup by 15 mm (0.59 inches) compared to the Dynamic chassis in the standard S60.
This kind of modification may not sound like a big deal for casual owners, but Volvo is taking its attempt to improve the S60 R-Design’s driving dynamics seriously with this mod.
Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research and Development at Volvo Car Group, explained it best when he said: "The driving experience should be so connected that it boosts the dynamics without making the chassis feel too raw. If the chassis is too firm, even smooth tarmac can feel bumpy. We aim for a sporting yet luxurious feel"
Volvo has yet to release pricing details for the S60 R-Design. That being said, you can at least expect it to be slightly north of the $37,700 price of the standard S60 model.
The problem with Volvos isn’t so much the design of the cars and the accompanying technology. The Swedish automaker actually has some pretty good aesthetic and performance qualities to it. But Volvo’s long-standing image as a "grown-up" brand immediately cuts off the younger market. Don’t be fooled by all those Twilight cross-promotions.
On its own merit, the S60 R-Design has some good qualities going for it. The 304-horsepower output is actually almost identical to the Mercedes C-Class’ ’ 302-horsepower output, which is a very good thing going for the former.
But, ultimately, if you’re given a choice between a C-Class and a Volvo S60 R-Design, the answer is pretty obvious, right?
If Volvo really wants to get people to take notice of a pretty good model like the S60 R-Design, it needs to do more than just adding design elements and improving the car’s chassis.
You tell us to buy a Volvo S60 R-Design, we’re more than happy to oblige. But if you give us a choice, it’s hard to pick the Swedish brand over a Mercedes, or any of its German counterparts, for that matter.
- Powertrain options
- Improved chassis means better driving
- Clean and functional interior
- Doesn’t "wow" us
- Other choices available
The new R-Design versions of Volvo S60, V60 and XC60 feature an outstanding blend of a renewed sports appearance, a dynamic driving-focused chassis and engine output up to a substantial 329 horsepower with the Polestar performance option.
"The new R-Design models are a perfect match for performance-minded individuals with a passion for exquisite details. In the new S60, V60 and XC60 R-Design, we have turned up the visual volume of these popular models with meticulous attention to detail," says Doug Speck, Senior Vice President Marketing, Sales and Customer Service at Volvo Car Group.
"The S60 or V60 R-Design with lowered R-Design chassis, T6 engine and the optional 19-inch wheels hits all the right notes. Just let the ultra-comfortable new sport seat embrace you while you enjoy the intense driving experience," adds Doug Speck.
Unique new front
All three R-Design cars - including the XC60 - now feature a unique face with a redesigned, dynamic, expressive nose. The frameless Tech Matte Black grille has high-gloss black stripes, a silk metal diagonal and a refined R-Designed emblem. The DRL lights in the outer corners reinforce the low, road-hugging impression.
"The front wheel arches are small design gems that enhance the car’s sporty aura. The rounded end of the front bumper ‘wraps’ around the dynamic Ixion wheel, which is now available in a redesigned 19-inch version for the S60/V60 and a 20-inch for the XC60," says Fedde Talsma, Design Director, Exterior.
At the rear, the unique diffuser with aero fins is flanked by the round, high-tech R-Design tailpipes.
New generation R-Design interior
The new sport seat come as standard in the R-Design cars. It features a blend of black nubuck textile and perforated leather. The embroidered R-design logo with a blue ‘R’ confirms the sporty aura. Full leather seats are available as an option.
"With great hugging side support all the way from the thighs to the shoulders, the new sport seat makes a perfect addition to the in-command feel of a true driver’s car while the seat retains the traditional comfort that has been a Volvo hallmark for decades," says Doug Speck.
The Adaptive Digital Display features the option to switch between three layouts with different configuration and functionality - Elegance, Eco and Performance. In the R-Design versions, the Elegance theme boasts a radiant blue colour.
The design team has dedicated much attention to all the interior details that emphasize the distinctive R-Design aura.
"By blending inlays with a perforated look, black leather and contrasting stitching, the design team has created an interior with all the details in perfect harmony, crowned by the black headliner. The new stainless steel tread plate with a bright blue ‘R’ in the R-Design emblem is another exquisite detail," says Doug Speck.
Sporty ride with up to 329 horsepower
R-Design models can be combined with all the engines available for the standard versions. The range spans from the D2 diesel with 115 horsepower (not available in the XC60) to the 3.0 litre, six cylinder T6 petrol turbo with 304 horsepower and 440 Nm of torque.
The T6 buyer can boost performance to 329 horsepower by opting for the Polestar software that charges the specially designed sport accelerator pedal with an extra 25 hp.
Acceleration times in the T6 version, using the new paddle shift with the automatic gearbox in Sport mode, have been cut in all three cars with 0-100 km/h now down to 5.9 seconds (previously 6.1) in the S60 T6. The equivalent figure for the V60 T6 is 6.0 seconds (6.2), while the XC60 T6 now covers 0-100 km/h in 6.9 seconds (7.3).
Lower and firmer chassis
The R-Design Sport chassis has been lowered 15 mm compared with the Dynamic chassis in the standard S60 and V60, and the spring stiffness is 15 per cent higher compared with the dynamic chassis in the standard S60 and V60. This gives responsive driving pleasure with full control.
"The driving experience should be so connected that it boosts the dynamics without making the chassis feel too raw. If the chassis is too firm, even smooth tarmac can feel bumpy. We aim for a sporting yet luxurious feel," says Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research and Development at Volvo Car Group.
The S60 and V60 R-Design features rear monotube dampers, delivering compression and return damping via the same valve. This gives shorter, faster fluid flow, which in turn means the damper responds more quickly.
Stiffer bushings counteract oscillation, and roll and movements are more controlled. The bushings that attach the rear dampers to the body are 20 per cent stiffer compared with the Dynamic chassis. The front tie-blade bushing is a substantial 400 per cent stiffer to counteract wheel bouncing and shaking.
A strut brace under the bonnet ties together the suspension strut towers to stiffen up the body structure.
The XC60 R-Design chassis is also stiffer than the standard car and has more dynamic driving properties - without compromising ride comfort. The shock absorber springs and anti-roll bars are adjusted and tuned to be firmer and more balanced. The result is improved control and a sportier, road-hugging drive.
Corner Traction Control
Just like in the standard variants, a range of electronic systems that sharpen the sporty driving experience backs up the chassis in the R-Design cars.
Corner Traction Control, which uses torque vectoring to provide smoother cornering, is now also standard on the XC60. The DSTC (Dynamic Stability and Traction Control) system also has several other functions that improve driving and safety properties, such as:
Advanced Stability Control. With a gyroscopic roll-angle sensor the anti-spin system can deploy faster and with greater precision.
Engine Drag Control prevents the wheels from losing their grip during engine braking on a slippery surface.
The DSTC system also has a sports setting that makes it possible for the driver to disable the anti-spin function.
The new Volvo S60, V60 and XC60 R-Design will be available in all markets that sell the standard versions of these models. Volvo Cars expects that about 10 per cent of buyers will choose the R-Design version, but this increases to over 30 per cent in some markets such as the United Kingdom and Australia.
"Of the R-Design models, more than half of the volume will be snapped up by buyers who drive other car makes today. These cars also play a vital role in lowering the age of our customer base," says Doug Speck.