The sporty Volvo for the whole family we wished was sportier still

Volvo brings the R-Design treatment to its latest V60 Wagon. It will be the top-tier trim for the V60, and it will enhance the car’s performance as well. A sportier exterior look is part of the deal, and it’s available for all the engines in the lineup.

The R-Design, where "R" stands for "Refined," is Volvo’s range-topping performance trim, with the first Volvo that benefitted from this treatment dating back 23 years. It comes as no surprise that the V60 will be available, for the 2019 model year, with the R-Design package that adds improved suspension to make sense of the sporty, yet conservative, exterior. The base price for the Volvo V60 R is $46,558.

What Makes the Volvo V60 R-Design Special?

2019 Volvo V60 R-Design Exterior
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Volvo, known originally for their brick-shaped vehicles that happened to be safer than most others, are no strangers to sportivity. Their touring cars won championships in the ’90s but, more famously, they raced a wagon around that time too. The R line debuted on the road-going version of that particularly quirky touring car, namely the 850T-R.

The aggressiveness of the R-Design may have been toned down a bit on recent releases, but the V60 R has many details that separate it from the basic model.

Up front, the angular grille lost its chromed vertical blade-like elements in favor of a different design washed in glossy black. The central air intake in the nose is also different, with vertical struts that connect to the protruding lower lip. The blacked-out theme is made complete by the side intakes which house the indicators that have also shed their shiny bits. LED headlights and fog lights are standard.

2019 Volvo V60 R-Design Exterior
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The mean profile is accentuated by the bigger 18-inch alloy wheels with a diamond-cut finish. The black takeover is noticeable even more thanks to the black door mirror housings, window frames, integrated roof rails, and twin tailpipe surrounds. The twin exhaust tips themselves are still chromed though.

If you want 19-inch alloys, you'll have to go for the R-Design Plus package which adds many interesting features and the one that tops them all: dark-tinted rear windows.

Car manufacturers still look at that and think "Hmm, yes, that’s a selling point right there for our most expensive tier!" In 2018...

Volvo claims these changes make the R-Design "immediately recognizable," but that’s not the case. You really have to know your Volvos to be able to tell them apart. Luckily, you’ve got an R badge on the trunk to help you out. Previous Volvos of its kind featured side skirts, rear wings and other elements that made even a non-Volvo aficionado aware that this car is something else. We know that the "R" stands for Refined but, if anything, the V60 R is just as elegant as the regular one, even more so if you’re one to take black inserts over chromed ones.

2019 Volvo V60 R-Design Interior
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The Swedish manufacturer also says the R spirit goes beyond the exterior elements and the leather-filled cabin. This is something we can agree with.

You've got proper bucket seats in the front with cushion extensions and multi-directional lumbar support.

The steering wheel is also sporty, as is the gear stick and the pedals, but not in the way a Honda Civic Type R does it. This is a grown-ups car in every sense of the phrase.

Being a range-topping model, it has all the creature comforts you can think of and then some: "two-zone climate control, automatic headlights with active high beam, 12.3-inch driver’s information display and a powered tailgate." The likelihood of you being involved in an accident aboard the V60 R will be reduced by the City Safety suite of collision-avoidance aids; Because it wouldn’t be a genuine Volvo without them.

What matters, though, is the stiffer, more responsive chassis. The suspension is less forgiving due to stiffer spring rates while the ride height’s been lowered by half-an-inch and the anti-roll bars have been thickened up. Sadly, the Swedes didn’t play with the engines - we’ll have to wait for Polestar to do that - but they aren’t horrible anyway.

2019 Volvo V60 R-Design Exterior
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You get to choose between two diesel engines, the 150 horsepower D3 or the 190 horsepower D4, and the 250 horsepower T5 gas engine.

The latter would be the go-to choice if you really want to make this car feel sporty, and not just a trailer-puller. These engines are mated to either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic with flappy paddles behind the steering wheel. Let’s wait and hope that Polestar will apply their treatment to it as they did with the 2013 model.

Further reading

2019 Volvo V60 Exterior
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Read our full review of the 2019 Volvo V60.

Michael Fira
Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert -
Mihai Fira started out writing about long-distance racing like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the years went by, his area of interest grew wider and wider and he ever branched beyond the usual confines of an automotive writer. However, his heart is still close to anything car-related and he's most at home retelling the story of some long-since-forgotten moment from the history of auto racing. He'll also take time to explain why the cars of the '60s and '70s are more fascinating than anything on the road today.  Read full bio
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