Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book
KBB.com 2004 Volvo S60 Overview
R You Ready to be Moved?
Volvo has finally given us driving enthusiasts what we've been begging for: a super-high performance, all-wheel-drive version of the gorgeous S60 sedan. With the introduction of the S60 R, Volvo is now ready to play in the same league as the Audi S4 and BMW M3.
The S60 R occupies the same shell as the base S60 and retains that the car's efficient use of space, both inside and out. Though the silhouette is the same, there are some subtle styling cues that set the R apart from the rest of the S60 fleet, beginning at the wheels. The S60 R gets a set of 17-inch alloy wheels that can be traded up for a handsome set of 18-inch five-spoke rims that make the S60 R look like it's wearing little more than rubber bands for tires, at least when viewed from the side. The design is completed by an aggressively styled front air dam.
Changes inside the S60 R are far more obvious, beginning with the seats. Here you'll find a wonderfully complete set of deeply-contoured front and rear bucket seats; the bolsters on these seats are so thick and high that some people may find them a bit on the snug side, and that's putting it politely. The seat's tenacious grip on your torso does have a purpose, but we'll get to that in just a moment. With the S60 R, you'll discover one of the slickest instrument clusters to come on line since VW introduced its blue and red dash lighting. On the S60 R, the gauge faces are painted in a metallic blue and are surrounded by brushed metal trim rings; at night, they glow a mesmerizing shade of cobalt. The dash itself remains the same as the base S60, functional and easy to live with, but a bit on the plastic side; some brushed aluminum or even wood might go a long way to warming it up a bit. At the base of the dash rests Volvo's cool "space ball" shifter only now the shift pattern badge shows six speeds instead of five. Our car had the light taupe leather interior that contrasted nicely with the dark dash and center console; other interior color choices include dark blue and a very handsome buckskin-like natural leather.
Lift the S60 R's hood and you'll find a compact yet powerful ally in the turbo-charged 2.5-liter engine. Though not the smoothest engine in this classthe five-cylinder configuration makes it difficult to cancel out vibrationthe 300 horsepower it generates should more than make up for any refinement issues you may have. The engine has enough low-end torque available from the start to move the S60 R quickly before the turbo comes on line; this negates the sluggish feeling usually associated with high power, small displacement turbos, a situation known as turbo lag. Acceleration is brisk in the S60 R, moving you to 60-mph in under six seconds. You control the action via the slick shifting six-speed that has a nice firm feel and slides easily from gear to gear. You may find that the S60 R's clutch pedal engages rather high up, making smooth shifts from first to second gear a bit difficult until you become familiar with the car's mechanicals.
The S60 R rides on an all-new electronic suspension dubbed the Four-C, which stands for Continuously Controlled Chassis Concept. Simply stated, this system allows you to choose between three different suspension settings: Comfort, Sport and Advanced. In the Comfort mode, the S60 R rides and handles as smoothly as any fine luxury car. This setting is best used for everyday suburban driving and on long, straight interstates. The Sport setting stiffens the shock dampening sufficiently as to render the ride firm but still comfortable; handling prowess is greatly increased in this position, allowing you to tackle tight turns and serpentine back roads with little body roll, squat or dive. The Advanced setting is rather harsh, bringing the shocks to a near frozen position that telegraphs every bump, dip and uneven patch of pavement directly back to the passenger compartment.
As you push the S60 R into turns, the all-wheel-drive system is put to work keeping power flowing to the wheels with the best grip. The S60 R still powers itself primarily via its front wheels and only sends power to the rear wheels when slippage is detected. This means that, as with most front-drive cars, you'll still experience the onset of front-end plow, but in the S60 R's case, once the all-wheel-drive system comes online, things magically seem to resolve themselves. This setup differs somewhat from the all-wheel-drive systems found on Audi and Subaru cars that split the engines torque evenly between the front and rear wheels at all times. The S60 R also features a number of electronic traction control and stability control devices that invisibly assist you in maintaining control under aggressive driving.
In a word, the new S60 R is the best S60 to date. Along with its sister car, the V70 R wagon, the S60 R serves up a proper dose of fun to drive attitude in a car you and the family can also use as your daily driver.