By Barbara and Bill Schaffer
One year after the introduction of the S60 T6, which could best be called the brand?s performance leader, the sport sedan gets a boost from the Polestar treatment.? Boasting 25 more horsepower and 29-lb.ft. of torque, the new R-Design version drops the 0 to 60 mph acceleration time to 5.3 seconds while the top speed is electronically limited to 130.
As the best performing Volvo ever, the S60 R-Design is a product of software tuning where the alterations are made electronically in a method similar to the chips used by some aftermarket tuners.? Software modifications are an easy way to improve performance without modifying hardware, so the original warranty is still in affect and the fuel economy is the same as the T6 version ? 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.?
The S60 R-Design uses the second-generation? six-speed ?Geartronic? box with a sport mode.? During more aggressive driving, the transmission had a tendency to shift up to save fuel rather than holding a lower gear to help the driver maintain better control through corners, and Volvo insiders say they are working on that. ?The transmission can be shifted manually from the shifter, but it lacks the more desirable wheel-mounted paddles.
The S60 has a front bias electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system with Instant Traction plus Corner Traction Control with torque vectoring which helps steer the car by redistributing torque to the outside wheel.
Cosmetic modifications, to the already sleek sedan, include a redesigned lower front fascia below the glossy piano black grille, large 3.5-inch exhaust outlets and unique 18-inch ?Ixion? alloy wheels.? The R-Design interior includes deeply bolstered front sport seats, and a plethora of R-Design logos applied to various items in the cabin.
The S60 T6 was lauded by the automotive press for impressive handling and the R-Design builds on that with its new sport chassis.? Engineers were easily able to enhance handling characteristics by adding a strut brace under the hood linking the strut towers and enhancing other performance sub-systems to stiffen the body structure even more.? The R-Design also uses a suite of electronic systems including Dynamic Stability and Traction Control and Advance Stability Control help keep the car aimed where the driver is pointing.
Included in the R-Designs safety menu is the world?s first City Safety system, which help prevent collisions with another vehicle.? When creeping at 19 mph or less, the system has a sensor that determines when a collision is likely, and depending on the closing speed, the system will either pre-charge the brakes or automatically brake to avoid the collision.
S60 pricing starts at $30,025 for the turbocharged five-cylinder T5 model and the turbocharged six-cylinder T6 AWD is $38,775.? The T6 RWD R-Design is priced at $43,375, and can go to more than $54,000 when you add the multimedia, technology and climate packages along with the available stand-alone options.
The R-Design certainly doesn?t produce the extreme performance increase of an AMG or M, but it?s an inexpensive upgrade to make the S60 a strong competitor among the premium sport sedans and well worth of consideration.
See Part 3 — XC60 R-Design tomorrow