2013 Volvo S60 R-Design
2013 Volvo S60 R-Design
2013 Volvo S60 R-Design. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

Look on the rump of the 2013 Volvo S60 R-Design and you’ll see a small blue badge that says Polestar. It is especially hard to pick up on this Rebel Blue tester.


No, Volvo is not paying homage to a certain kind of “performer” found in a certain kind of “night club”. Besides, that would not be in keeping with the Swedish automaker’s image.

Wait a sec. The S60 sedan was billed as the “naughty” Volvo when it first appeared for 2011, so perhaps…

Naw. Polestar is a Swedish tuning firm that has a long history of turning mild-mannered Volvos into Nordic gods with bad tempers. All 2013 S60 R-Designs come with Polestar Performance Software tuning as standard equipment. This hoofs the horse count of the transversely mounted 3.0L turbo straight-six from 300 to 325 and provides a torque bump of 29 lb-ft to 354 lb-ft. Heady numbers indeed.

Official fuel economy figures remain at 11.7 L/100 city and 8.0 L/100 km highway, but unlike the regular S60 this hyper version needs premium grade fuel.

Astute Volvo-philes will note the power output of this 2013 model is the same as last year’s S60 R-Design. The only difference is the addition of the Polestar badge.

In the words of Volvo PR head Dustin Woods, “The working relationship has expanded and Polestar’s involvement has become more prevalent. Now they’ve been granted some real estate on the vehicle.”

Like Scandinavian cuisine and architecture, Volvo’s halo performance sedan is a unique proposition – it distances itself from other luxury sport compacts. In some cases that distance is a Göteborg mile thanks to a torque-monster of a mill that sees 100 km/h off in 5.5 seconds.

And we can’t deny the S60’s enduringly stylish body that trades in equal parts elegance and sensuality. I never tire of seeing an S60 on the road, and here, squat on its sports suspension, wheel arches filled with 18×8-inch Ixion alloys shod with 235/40/R18 Continental performance tires and resplendent in a positively festive shade of bright blue, this 2013 R-Design cuts a pretty striking profile.

2013 Volvo S60 R-Design2013 Volvo S60 R-Design2013 Volvo S60 R-Design
2013 Volvo S60 R-Design. Click image to enlarge

The interior also marches to its own drummer. It’s a clean and pleasing design, and as always the Volvo seats score high marks for both comfort and support. R-Design cars get the default all-black Germanic treatment, which is fine, but having seen this interior sporting lovely contrasting hues in other test cars, I know how much more interesting it can be.

The “waterfall” centre console is stylish and manages to neatly contain most of the controls, but the buttons surrounding the human-esque tri-button HVAC vent selector are small and fussy. Switching radio stations and bands can be distracting.

That said, the upgraded Meridian audio gets an A+ and the navigation is easy to program. Both these are part of the $3,825 navi package.

Blind spot warning is part of the Platinum trim found here, but the full-zoot Driver Support Package that bestows a vast array of signature Volvo safety systems – adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, driver alert, distance alert, collision warning and pedestrian detection (both with full auto brake) – is another $4,500.

The R-Design gets the Climate Package as standard equipment, and this includes heated front seats, rain sensor, heated washer nozzles and headlamp washers. Heated rear seats will set you back $575.

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