Test Drive: 2012 Volvo XC60 R Design volvo car test drives luxury cars
2012 Volvo XC60 R-Design. Click image to enlarge
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Manufacturer’s website
Volvo Cars Canada

Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

Photo Gallery:
2012 Volvo XC60

Let me start by saying that the Volvo XC60 is a fine vehicle that I find very appealing, especially because of my young growing family and the convenience, safety, and style that this compact luxury crossover offers.

But sometimes, a manufacturer can take a good idea just a little too far.

There are no shortage of examples that I could name: the most recent F-150 Harley-Davidson Edition, an overpowered BMW ActiveHybrid3, or the Fiat 500 by Gucci. All excellent vehicles in their segments, but perhaps taking it one trim too far.

While the Volvo XC60 R-Design isn’t quite as far afield as those, the R-Design didn’t seem like an overall improvement on the XC60 T6 for the typical Volvo customer. Conveniently, we had a Volvo owner at our disposal who allowed us to drive his 2010 XC60 T6 AWD back to back with the 2012 XC60 R-Design.

Test Drive: 2012 Volvo XC60 R Design volvo car test drives luxury cars
Test Drive: 2012 Volvo XC60 R Design volvo car test drives luxury cars
Test Drive: 2012 Volvo XC60 R Design volvo car test drives luxury cars
2012 Volvo XC60 R-Design. Click image to enlarge

After driving the two, we essentially agreed that the extra power and more aggressive suspension settings somewhat contradict the mission of this car, a stylish, comfortable, safe, and practical small luxury SUV.

However, one point we disagreed on was the styling. I loved it. In smoking hot Chili Red, with matte-aluminum-look mirror caps and body trim, I found it both hot and sophisticated, and the monster 20-inch wheels further add to the tuner concept look. The one drawback to this bold red colour is that the sinuous, curving, body-hugging taillights almost blend into the car, a shame because they rank up there as some of the best taillights and back end in any car.

The interior is similarly sophisticated, but in this case possibly at the expense of ergonomics. While the clean, uncluttered centre stack looks so very Scandinavian, with a modern touch of textured, striated metallic-look surface, the buttons are all concentrated into such a small space that one has to look a little too long to find the desired control, except for the outlying buttons for sound, screen navigation, and temperature, which become intuitive quite quickly. The menus on the non-touchscreen interface are a little confusing; for example, it took quite a maze of menus to change the navigation map view, an operation that stumped one of our colleagues, and the position of the dial for the menu navigation isn’t easy to reach (as opposed to BMW, Audi, and Mercedes systems).

The gauges are an eye-catching royal blue with metallic bezels, but the info screens nested within them are old-school displays with numbers that look like something from the original Space Invaders video game.

The seats, though, are unquestionably comfortable, quite possibly the best in the business at this price range in terms of comfort. I don’t know if I’ve ever read a complaint about Volvo seats in my time in the industry, but I’ll try. This being an R-Design ‘performance’ model, the seats lacked for side bolstering despite greater bolstering than standard XC60 seats, and the leather surface was a bit slick—perhaps some Alcantara inserts would solve the grip issue without having to resort to high, aggressive bolsters that make ingress more difficult.




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.