Volvo V60 R-Design (2011) hands-on

The Volvo V60 R-Design brings a new sporty level of trim to technical safety wizardry, leading to an edgier more exciting line-up of cars for 2011. We jumped behind the wheel of the new T3 model - with Volvo’s new 1.6 GTDi engine - and took it for a spin.

The R-Design specification brings with it a number of cosmetic and performance tweaks: chassis and suspension modifications give more control, reducing pitch and giving a more sporty, responsive, ride.

Internally you are treated to new front seats, offering side support for those fast corners you’ll be taking and finished in a black leather and cloth. The seats are comfortable too, so you won’t find yourself complaining when you put in long hours on the motorway. A sports gear stick and leather steering wheel complement the considered interior design, with blue dial trim topping things off.

Externally you get twin tail pipes and rear diffuser adding a touch of class to the rear end. Matte silver wing mirrors and window trim complete the look. It’s certainly a good looking car and comfortable to drive too.

The new T3 (150 PS) engine is Volvo’s attempt to reinvigorate the petrol engine models, by making them more efficient, giving you better performance for the capacity whilst keeping an eye on the emissions. The four-cylinder turbo-charged direct injection engine was surprisingly punchy; uprated T4 (180 PS) and T5 (240 PS) alternatives are also available, along with the T6 AWD (304 PS) geartronic version. We also took out the D3 (165 PS) and D5 (205 PS) models in the new S60 R-Design and both engines are available on the V60 R-Design as well.

The V60 we drove was loaded with technology, including pedestrian detection and crash avoidance, which we couldn’t test, but we did get to look at the LDW (lane departure warning) and the BLIS (blind spot information system) both detecting and issuing warnings as we veered around the dual carriageway.

The centre console offers up a blistering array of controls and it did take us a while to get familiar with everything on offer. The on-board navigation was simple enough to use and we were pleased to see a DAB tuner along with the FM radio, so you’ll be able to listen to your choice of station regardless of where you are in the country (DAB signal accepting).

With controls split between the sports steering wheel and the centre console, we found that the mainstay of menu and "OK" to make new selections fell easily under the left-hand when driving, but with no satnav directions transferring to the digital centre of the speedo and rev counter, you might find yourself glancing into the centre of the car more often than you like to get directions.

Simplifying control of the on-board media options - including a USB connection to hook-up your iPod or iPhone - there is also a remote control, so your Mother-in-Law in the back seat can select her choice in music whilst you keep your eyes on the road.

The rear doesn’t give you an excess of leg room and the smaller rear quarter windows make the V60 feel a little darker inside than its saloon sister the S60. 

Starting at £26,275 OTR for the R-Design trim, the model pictured here will set you back £31,570, with the added extras.