Volvo S60 R-Design (2011) hands-on

The Volvo S60 R-Design offers a new level of trim on Volvo’s popular saloon, bringing a sporty edge to a car loaded with safety tech.

Encompassing a number of cosmetic and performance alterations, the S60 R-Design has a more aggressive look, with a redesigned front and rear bumper, offering a new black grill at the front and a rear diffuser with twin chrome tail pipes.

Internally you’ll find that R-Design ushers in new seats, giving comfortable but sporty seats with side support and finished in a smart leather and cloth assemblage. This is joined by leather gear shift and sports steering wheel.

A stiffened chassis, rolling on 18-inch five spoke Ixion wheels and stiffened, lowered suspension offers a more responsive drive, but unlike some sports saloons, it isn’t a bone-jarring experience. The new seats feel comfortable enough for long journeys, not just those crazy drives through twisting country roads.

Packed with technology, the S60 R-Design we took out for a spin was loaded with pedestrian and crash avoidance systems (that we didn’t actually put to the test), along with Lane Departure Warning and Blind Spot Information System. These technologies incorporate extra sensors and cameras that will issue warnings as appropriate should you veer across a white road line without indicating, or if you get too close to another vehicle at the side.

You can opt to switch them off if you decide that indicating on the motorway isn’t for you, however we also managed to trigger the system whilst crossing the centre line on an A road whilst driving around parked cars. A single button press toggles the system.

A central display conveys navigation information as well as guiding you through the media and radio options (with AM, FM and DAB all offered) and a USB connection in the central arm rest provides a location to connect your iPod. Bluetooth is available to integrate your mobile phone too. With all the buttons crammed into the centre console it can take a short time to find your way around, but the system is intuitive enough.

So the kids in the back don’t get fed up with your easy listening tastes, there is a remote control that can be used to change the media setup.

We drove both the D3 model (163 PS) and the D5 (205 PS) turbo diesel options. The D5 feels more assured, but the D3 wasn’t lacking in power by comparison.

Visibility is surprisingly good and unlike the V60 estate version of the car that we also tested, the rear doesn't feel too gloomy, even if leg space for your passengers is at something of a premium.

The S60 R-Design starts at £26,600 OTR, the model pictured here will set you back £32,535. The D5 was approx an extra £3000 on top of this.



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