‘R’ History Lesson
The all-new 2012 XC60 R-Design is a smart and slightly-sexy crossover model whose specification sheet has finally received a couple extra bullet points in the performance column. While the available trim levels and equipment packaging strategies across the XC60 lineup have been refreshed for 2012, the final product is largely unchanged. The bump in output at the R-Design level represents a welcome and fun addition.
It was in the spring of 2007 that Volvo cars announced the performance oriented “R” lineup – which at the time was limited to the 2007 S60R sedan and V70R wagon models – didn’t make the cut for the 2008 model year. Volvo performance enthusiasts – and yes, there are some out there – let out a collective sigh, having enjoyed the over-boosted R-variants since the original 240-horsepower Volvo 850 T5-R debuted in 1995. Volvo R models were never true M3 or S4 challengers, but they did provide some extra oomph in otherwise very civilized and safety-focused sedans and wagons.
Rolling forward, Volvo attempted to appease R aficionados with a series of “R-Design” variations beginning in 2008, but the effort was largely visual: larger wheels, sportier exhaust outlets and sport-oriented applications to both the exteriors and interiors. Even with stiffer suspension setups, R-Design models maintained the same power outputs and thus did not satisfy the buyer seeking even slight boosts in hair-raising horsepower and tire-shredding torque.
This Scandinavian automaker has now applied a new application to the performance equation: Polestar, a highly-regarded, international motorsports performance company known for working the mo-jo with competitive Turismo and Touring cars has found a simple solution to increase horsepower and torque; the result is a thoughtfully integrated upgrade that can be dialed-in to a Volvo model at the port or at a Volvo dealer.
2012 Volvo XC60: What We Drove
We drove the 2012 Volvo XC60 R-Design, Volvo’s best-selling model in its premium lineup of vehicles that compete with Audi, BMW and Mercedes offerings in this segment. Motoring from Phoenix to Sedona, Arizona and back, we had the opportunity to try out this 5-seater crossover model injected with Polestar Performance over a nearly 300-mile-route that included city driving and highway motoring, as well as along some of The Grand Canyon State’s tight and winding high-country two-lanes. The increases to horsepower and torque are not noticeable in a manner that snaps your neck to the headrest but rather brings confidence to around-town scooting in and out of traffic and when pushing the throttle for passing maneuvers that need to be achieved with precision, especially on the highway.
There are many things to appreciate about this upgraded model: it’s easy to get in and out of the cockpit; it has European good looks both outside and in; and it comes with state-of-the-art safety features, as well as a host of comfort and convenience pleasantries, and modern-day technological and communications offerings.
Although owned today by Chinese company Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, Volvo is a 100-percent Scandinavian manufacturer that makes airplanes, buses, trucks, engines and autos. The name comes from Volvere and means “I roll” and, since Gustaf Larson and Assar Gabrielson started Volvo Cars in 1927, the guiding principals have been safe rolling on the roads and care for the environment we live in and roll through, as well as the interior of the cars we drive in.
2012 Volvo XC60: Under the Hood
The 2012 Volvo XC60 R-Design extracts 325 horsepower and 354 foot-pounds of torque out of a 3.0-liter turbocharged in-line six-cylinder engine, representing increases in output of 25 horses and 29 foot pounds over the standard XC60 T6 model’s powertrain. A bump in turbo boost coupled with a recalibrated throttle and modified spark timing provide the power increase, which Volvo says will not reduce fuel economy (17 city, 23 highway mpg). Volvo collaborated with Polestar Performance in developing the new engine management software for the XC60 R-Design, and is extending the software upgrade availability to T5 and T6 models across the lineup; the upgrade is backed by the factory warranty and doesn’t affect emissions.
A six-speed automatic transmission routes power to Volvo’s sophisticated Haldex all-wheel-drive system, where the R-Design sport tuned suspension takes over in maintaining a civilized and responsive ride and drive.
2012 Volvo XC60: Exterior Flair
Distinguished as an R-Design model throughout the exterior, the most telling attribute of the 2012 Volvo XC60 is the set of 20-in., 5-spoke alloy wheels that help anchor the XC60 to the pavement. Front and rear skid plates finished in silk metal pair with side scuff plates, accented further by unique side view mirrors with the same matte finish. Up front, standard dual xenon headlights bend around corners at angles up to 15 percent, which Volvo says increases visibility by up to 90 percent. Speaking of increased visibility, the dual exhaust outlets at the rear visually announce both sport and refinement to trailing motorists.
Ice White and Passion Red paint applications are available for no additional charge, the latter available exclusively at the R-Design level. An extra $550 earns you metallic paint in four available colors: Black Sapphire, Electric Silver, Saville Gray and Cosmic White (R-Design only). Additional colors available at 3.2 and T6 trims include Black Stone, Seashell Metallic, Terra Bronze Metallic and Caspian Blue Metallic.
2012 Volvo XC60: Interior Accommodations
Once inside the 2012 Volvo XC60, drivers and passengers are treated to R-Design applications galore, including leather seating upholstery with unique inlays and the 3-spoke R-Design steering wheel mounted in front of elegant blue watch dial instruments. Upholstery choices include Off Black with a Beige inlay or the reverse: Soft Beige with an Off Black inlay. Two unique trim level upgrades – Premier Plus and Platinum – are available on XC60 R-Design models.
Premier Plus ($1,750) adds a power tailgate with programmable memory, front and rear park assist, keyless drive, integrated garage door opener, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with a built in compass and electric folding rear headrests. Stepping up to Platinum ($4,450) gives you all of the aforementioned but also includes Volvo Premium Sound, a rear camera to further assist parking and navigation. Adding the Climate Package ($1,000) yields heated front seats, an Interior Air Quality System, a rain sensor, heated windshield washer nozzles, headlight washers and available two-stage child booster seats.
2012 Volvo XC60: Safety and Technology
Volvo and safety have long been synonymous, even when performance appears the priority. All 2012 Volvo XC60 models – including the R-Design – arrive loaded with safety and security features, including Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC), Intelligent Driver Information System (IDIS), Roll Stability Control (RSC), Roll-over Protection System (ROPS), Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS) and City Safety, an infrared laser based system that will automatically slow the vehicle at low speeds if impacts are sensed.
XC60 buyers seeking even more safety-focused innovation may opt for the Technology Package ($2,100), which provides Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake, Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake, Distance Alert, Driver Alert Control and Lane Departure Monitoring. The Blind Spot Information System, affectionately known as “BLIS”, may be added further as a stand-alone option for $700. As previously indicated, child booster seats are available at no additional charge when opting for the Climate Package.
2012 Volvo XC60: Pricing
The 2012 Volvo XC60 R-Design models start at $44,575 ($43,700 MSRP, plus $875 destination fee), but can easily eclipse $55K in the top-of-the-line Platinum trim with the Climate Package, Technology Package, Blind Spot Information System, Rear Entertainment System ($1,800) and Front Blind View Park Assist Camera ($755). A mid-level Premier Plus model, with the Climate Package and the Integrated Navigation System stickers for $49,315 with the destination fee.