Test Drive: 2012 Volvo S60 R Design volvo car test drives reviews luxury cars
2012 Volvo S60 R-Design. Click image to enlarge

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Volvo Cars Canada

By Jonathan Yarkony; photos by Jonathan Yarkony and Michael Schlee

Photo Gallery:
2012 Volvo S60

I always love to book something special for the Christmas break, and this year was no different. Between my colleague Mike Schlee and I, we had a couple of really nice SUVs booked for the last couple weeks of the year, but then it all fell apart; the MDX got damaged by another journalist and the Evoque was double booked and due back exactly when I planned to be at my mom’s for a holiday dinner. On the very afternoon we heard about these cancellations, Volvo’s PR rep replied to an earlier request for an S60 with an offer of that luxury sedan for exactly the same week we were short a car. Not exactly a Christmas miracle to write a novel about, but a nice stocking stuffer, so I was thrilled.

Test Drive: 2012 Volvo S60 R Design volvo car test drives reviews luxury cars
Test Drive: 2012 Volvo S60 R Design volvo car test drives reviews luxury cars
2012 Volvo S60 R-Design. Click image to enlarge

And in the holiday spirit, the car was the fully-dressed S60 R-Design, with performance upgrades that deliver a shocking turn of speed for a Volvo and styling tweaks that complete the look and deliver a visual punch that screams “sport sedan.” For those unfamiliar with Volvo, R-Design is their high performance division.  Think of it as the equivalent of an AMG or M for this Swedish luxury car brand. This R-Design model is a special edition S60 based on the top trim T6, and at its heart is a pumped up engine that adds 25 horsepower, for a total of 325 potent ponies from its turbocharged 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder engine.  If you are a torque lover, this car has you covered, with 354 lb-ft of twist in a car weighing 1,737 kg.

As we mentioned, the R-Design is more than just an engine upgrade, featuring items not found on lesser S60s, like a sport chassis, special wheels, R-Design body enhancements, and interior upgrades including striking watch dial gauges and R-Design sport bucket seats. The R-Design S60 comes with unique 18-inch IXION alloy wheels that have slightly twisted looking spokes.  Shod in 235/40R18 tires (winters in our case), the Volvo has an aggressive stance and looks ready for business.  The aggressive theme continues at the back end, where the dual exhaust system is surrounded by a stylized rear diffuser.

I’ve loved the S60′s design since it was first previewed by the S60 Concept in 2009, and thoroughly gratified when it debuted in production trim, outshining many concept cars at the time. I also love it in its own right as a good-looking car, and for its sleek and curvy departure from the boxy designs of Volvos past. Our tester was finished in Ice White, which was both seasonally appropriate and would be my choice for the car if I were taking it home, though it also looks stunning in Passion Red, a shocking bright colour that I never would have imagined looking good on a Volvo a decade ago. But who cares what I think about how it looks, you can check out and download pictures anywhere on the web to your heart’s content and make up your own mind.

Test Drive: 2012 Volvo S60 R Design volvo car test drives reviews luxury cars
2012 Volvo S60 R-Design. Click image to enlarge

What you won’t get from the pictures is how getting behind the wheel rewrites the story of what to expect in a Volvo. This car is fast — expletive fast. I’ve appreciated where Volvo has been going with its interior and exterior design for years, and have always loved the ergonomics and comfort of these Swedes (the chairs have always been the next best thing to a visit to my chiropractor because they perfectly suit my body type), but I wasn’t expecting this kind of immediate and tantalizing speed. Its official sprint to 100 km/h takes 5.8 seconds, all 325 hp and 354 lb.-ft. of aggression channelled to the road by Volvo’s torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system; the base T5 and T6 engines both manage the feat in 6.1 seconds. In a car with this much power, fuel consumption is rarely a key factor, but we got a surprisingly reasonable 12.1 L/100 km. The way I drove it, I’m surprised we didn’t closer to 15. But back to the fun stuff; there is little noticeable turbo lag in the S60 R-Design, just plentiful forward thrust, and we made use of it whenever leaving a stoplight or hitting an open stretch of onramp.




About Jonathan Yarkony

Jonathan Yarkony is the Senior Editor for Autos.ca, a Brampton-based automotive writer with eight years of experience evaluating cars and an AJAC member.