William Maley

Review: 2013 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design

17 posts in this topic

William Maley    392

By William Maley

Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

January 24, 2013

The letter R in the automotive world means an automaker has added a bit of spice to one of their vehicles. Examples include Acura Integra Type R and Volkswagen Golf R32 and R. The best example of the letter R being used by an automaker is Volvo. A brand known for safety and button-down styling would surprise the world when it introduced the 850 T-5 R sedan and wagon in 1995. Draped in some very wild colors, the 850 T-5 R was for its time one of fastest vehicles on the planet thanks to some major tweaks to the powertrain and suspension. Volvo would follow up with the 1999 V70R and the 2003 - 2006 S60R and V70R models, all of them proving improved performance over the base models.

But since the S60R and V70R models left the Volvo lineup, there hasn’t quite been the craziness the R models brought forth. Instead Volvo fell back into its safety ritual, but with more distinctive designs. Two key things would happen to Volvo within the past couple of years to bring them back into the crazy fold. First would be Volvo strengthening and expanding its partnership with its racing and performance partner Polestar. Second would be the introduction of the R-Design trim for the S60 and XC60. R-Design brings some tweaks to exterior, engine, and chassis.

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That brings us to the 2013 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design. Does it show signs that craziness has entered Volvo once more?

Subtlety? Where?!

Volvo’s have been known to be very understated in their designs and the S60 R-Design is no exception to that rule, if you don’t decide to get your R-Design in what Volvo calls Rebel Blue. While I did like the bold color choice, some people weren’t so impressed with it. If you want to be fully understated with your S60 R-Design, go with another color.

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Aside from the color, there’s a lot to appreciate about the S60’s design. The new S60 is an evolution of the first-generation model with some coupe cues in the form of a short rear overhang and sloping roof. Volvo has also fitted a unique set of headlights with LEDs sitting right beside it. The R-Design package layers on a lower front spoiler, eighteen-inch alloy wheels, rear spoiler, rear diffuser with dual-exhaust pipes, and a little R-Design badge on the front denoting its status.

A Lesson in Simplicity

The S60 R-Design’s interior is one of simplicity. The dashboard is very clean in its design with a mixture of a soft-touch materials, metal accents around the vents and door pulls, and a unique metal center stack. Its a very handsome and and well-built interior.

The front seats, draped in black leather, were some of the most comfortable seats I have sat in all year. Providing eight-way adjustments, heat, and the right amount of bolstering, the seats had the right of comfort and support for enthusiastic or long drives. Backseat passengers will appreciate the amount of headroom. Legroom can vary from good to none depending on how far the front seat is set.

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Simplicity is a good word to describe the infotainment system. Instead of going with a controller like BMW, Mercedes and Audi, or a touchscreen with capacitive touch buttons like Cadillac and Lincoln, Volvo went with using a center stack full of buttons and knobs for to move around and control the system which appears on a seven-inch non-touch color screen. Some will complain that the center stack has way too many buttons and is a distraction to see which button you need to press. I would agree that when you're first using it, but after a while, it becomes second nature. While its very easy to use the system, I found that doing certain functions like moving around the map was a pain in the butt. I hope Volvo keeps the idea of simplicity when working on the next generation of their infotainment system, but maybe adds a joystiq or something that makes certain functions easier to do.

Those Crazy Swedes

Under the S60 T6 AWD R-Design is Volvo’s T6 engine; a turbocharged straight-six. In the normal S60 T6, you’re looking at 300 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. In the R-Design model, you’re looking at 325 horsepower (@ 5,400 RPM) and 354 lb-ft of torque (@ 3,200 - 3,600 RPM). This is in part due to Polestar which increased the boost of the turbocharger and installed a new module which changes ignition, fuel mapping and throttle response. Power is sent to a six-speed Geartronic automatic transmission down to a Haldex-built AWD system.

The engine has a Jekyll and Hyde personality. If you go about and drive the S60 R-Design normally, the engine is able to keep up with traffic very well with nary a hint of its performance cred. However if you decide to slam the pedal to the floor or throw the transmission into either sport or manual mode, the engine will throw you back into your seat and climb in speed at a very alarming rate. Plus, you get this amazing growl from the exhaust. The six-speed automatic does an amazing job of proving smooth and unobtrusive shifts whether I had my foot to the floor or moving along at a normal pace. I did wish the R-Design came with some paddles to have more fun with the engine.

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I did have an odd problem with this S60 R-Design’s gas pedal. If I put my foot on the pedal normally, about a quarter-way down, I found that I would going into hyperspace speed. But if maybe go an eighth of the way down on the pedal, the car accelerates normally. I’m not whether this is a programming issue or not, but reading through some other reviews of this car don’t mention this problem, so its just an issue with this particular vehicle.

The Haldex-built AWD system was non-intrusive and provided a feeling of sure-footedness no matter the conditions outside. Combined with Volvo’s Corner Traction Control system, the AWD system made the vehicle feel small and nimble when going through corners.

Fuel economy wise, S60 T6 R-Design is right in the middle of the pack in the compact luxury car class with the EPA rating it 18 City/25 Highway/21 Combined. For the week, I averaged 21.2 MPG with mostly suburban driving. A word of warning though; if you decide to stick your foot in the S60 T6 R-Design more often than not, be prepared to see your average MPG drop into the mid-teens.

The R-Design’s suspension is mostly the same as the normal S60. There are MacPherson struts up front and a independent rear suspension setup with stabilizer bars at either end. For the R-Design model, Volvo adds a 15 millimeter drop to the suspension, stiffer springs and bushings, strut tower brace, and Mono-tube shocks in the rear. These changes give the S60 R-Design almost the same handling characteristics as those from Germany. As for driving on a day to day basis, the R-Design suspension was able to cope with road imperfections very well.

The steering comes in the form of a rack and pinion setup with variable power assist. The steering hits the right balance of weight and feel whether you're attacking your favorite road or doing the daily drive. It gives the Germans and even the Cadillac ATS a run for their money.

It's A Volvo After All

Being a Volvo of course, the S60 R-Design is filled to the brim with safety technologies. Along with the AWD system and Corner Traction Control, the R-Design is fitted airbags all around the vehicle, Volvo’s Side Impact Protection System (SIPS) and Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), a rearview camera, and City Safety which uses a sensor mounted at the top of the windshield to monitor traffic ahead of you and put the brakes on if the vehicle senses an impending collision.

One feature I wished was standard on the S60 R-Design was Volvo’s BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) which can tell you if a vehicle is in your blind spot. This would be really helpful since rear visibility is terrible thanks to some thick C-Pillars. BLIS is a $700 option on the R-Design, but I do hope Volvo makes it standard sometime in the S60’s lifecycle.

Welcome To Crazy Town

The 2013 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design shows signs of craziness returning to Volvo. The evidence for this includes the wild blue paint, body modifications that are subtle, the two-sidedness of the powertrain, and a very impressive chassis setup.

While Volvo might not have the same cachet as a BMW or an Audi, the S60 R-Design can match them in other areas. If you’re the person who doesn't like to follow the leader, the S60 R-Design is worth a look.

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Disclaimer: Volvo Cars of North America provided the S60 R-Design, Insurance, and one tank of gas.

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Album: 2013 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design

Year - 2013

Make – Volvo

Model – S60

Trim – T6 AWD R-Design

Engine – 3.0L Turbocharged Inline-Six

Driveline – All-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic

Horsepower @ RPM – 325 @ 5400 RPM

Torque @ RPM – 354 @ 3000 RPM

Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/25/21

Curb Weight – 3,835 lbs

Location of Manufacture – Ghent, Belgum

Base Price - $43,900.00

As Tested Price - $48,195.00 (Includes $895.00 destination charge)

Options:

S60 Platinum Package - $2,700.00

Climate Package - $700.00

William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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Camino LS6    866

Love the quality presentation of the article - nice to see things stepped up a notch.

I can't say that the car does all that much for me, especially considering the price tag. But, I too like the simplicity of the interior - though I would forego the easter-egg blue exterior.

Is a manual offered?

Edited by Camino LS6

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dfelt    1,771

WOW, I like the racer Blue color, wish more car companies would give a bigger pallet of color selection. The interior is nice and I do like the simplistic approach. Yet I do agree with Drew, what is up with the center vent setup. Those two vents seem to be an after thought or maybe all the vents were up on top and the radio was where the vent is on the center stack and they decided to go with an updated touch screen and move things around as a cheap quick fix.

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William Maley    392
I really like the interior... but what is with those center vents?

LOVE the color!

I have no idea with that..

Love the quality presentation of the article - nice to see things stepped up a notch.

Is a manual offered?

Thanks. I'm working on improving my reviews.

No manual is offered.

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Lamar    72

Possibly.

For fun, though, I checked one of the international sites (Spain) to see which S60 models offer a manual. I learned two things:

1) The R-Design is US-only; everyone else tops out with the regular T6 with its paltry 300 hp.

2) None of the AWD versions get a manual, be they gasoline or diesel.

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Lamar    72

Transverse Audis use the Haldex system but re-brand it. Notably, the TTS and TTRS use that system but come with a 6MT.

Perhaps Volvo didn't figure it was worth the time to make it work.

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Camino LS6    866

Good question, Drew.

I don't see why not, but it could be.



Transverse Audis use the Haldex system but re-brand it. Notably, the TTS and TTRS use that system but come with a 6MT.

Perhaps Volvo didn't figure it was worth the time to make it work.

That seems more likely, especially since the R design is US only.

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Lamar    72
That seems more likely, especially since the R design is US only.

Even the regular T6 (always AWD) doesn't come with a manual overseas.

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Lamar    72

ADDENDUM per Camino's question earlier:

The S60 Polestar concept DOES have a manual. If it makes it to production, then there's hope for the row-your-own crew.

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regfootball    234

dislike the color.

the interiors on these most recent volvos have too sparse a look to me.

overall, i do like this car... wouldn't buy one but its a nice choice in the market and it is distinctive.

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ponchoman49    23

The side view of this car needs to be tarted up. It looks too much like a 20K Chevy Cruze and that interior is so spartan also looking like a 20K vehicle. As with so many cars today the only real interesting and distinct view is from the front or back. Obviously the goods lie underneath and under hood but I would have a real difficult time paying nearly 50 large for something this plain and small and thirsty.

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      The Volkswagen Jetta is an outlier in the compact class. Whereas other automakers have been stepping up with sharper designs, more tech, and improved driving dynamics, Volkswagen went in a completely different direction by offering the biggest amount of interior space for not that much money. But to accomplish this, Volkswagen made a number of sacrifices in terms of design, materials, and mechanical bits. This put the Jetta way behind the pack of the fresh competition. 
      But Volkswagen has been working to try and right some of the wrongs of the Jetta. A couple of years ago, Volkswagen updated the model with a new front end, new dashboard, and a turbocharged 1.4L four-cylinder to take place of the decrepit 2.0L. It salvages the Jetta’s reputation somewhat.
      The current Jetta is slightly better in terms of looks. A new front end with a larger grille and headlights with LED daytime running lights help make the model look more interesting to look at. Sadly, the rest of vehicle is as nondescript as before with nothing that jumps out at you. If you were to ask a small kid to draw a car, it would most likely look like the Jetta. If you ever wanted a master class of in how not to do an interior, the Jetta is a perfect candidate. Whereas most compact sedans show marked improvements in design and materials, the Jetta is like stepping back a decade or so. Our mid-level SE came with a large amount of cheap and hard plastics that you don’t see most compacts now - aside from the base models. The mostly black interior makes for a dreary experience. On the upside, Volkswagen has improved the dash by taking some ideas from the Golf. A new instrument cluster and revised center stack layout helps make the Jetta not feel as cheap as the previous model. It also makes for an easier time to find various controls and reading things at a quick glance. All Jettas get Volkswagen’s Car-Net infotainment system. The base S makes do with a 5-inch touchscreen, while the SE and higher trims use a 6.3-inch screen. Car-Net is one of the best infotainment systems on sale today thanks to a sharp interface, simple layout of the various functions, and the ability to use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Space is the Jetta’s key selling point. The back seat alone dwarfs most compacts and even gives some midsize sedans a run for their money. Sitting back here, I could stretch out with no issue. The trunk is also huge, offering up 15.7 cubic feet. I do wish the front seats were a bit more comfortable. Most of the week found me constantly adjusting the seat to try and find a position that wouldn’t cause me to ache after a drive. The SE comes with a turbocharged 1.4L four-cylinder offering 150 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Our test vehicle came with the standard five-speed manual, but a six-speed automatic is available.  On paper, the 1.4T should be a strong engine as it offers the same torque figure as the larger 1.8T at a lower rpm (1,400 rpm vs. 1,500 rpm). In the real world, this doesn’t happen. You’ll need to get the engine above 2,000 rpm to wake it up. At first, I thought we were dealing with a bad case of turbo lag. But further investigation revealed the five-speed manual is at fault. Volkswagen used taller gearing to make up for a missing sixth gear and improve fuel economy. I can’t help but wonder if the six-speed automatic alleviates this issue. Once you figure this out, the 1.4T is a surprising performer. Speed comes on at a rapid rate once your above 2,000 rpm. The engine is also very smooth and makes a pleasant noise when accelerating. The manual is somewhat difficult to work as the gear linkage feels somewhat stiff when moving through the gears. The clutch is light and it’s easy to find the take-off point. EPA fuel economy figures for the 1.4T manual stand at 28 City/40 Highway/33 Combined. I saw an average of 35 mpg that was a mix of 70 percent city driving and 30 percent highway driving. The automatic sees a slight drop in fuel economy to 28/38/32. One item we’re glad to see the lesser Jetta models get is a multilink rear suspension - replacing the rear beam axle of previous models. This makes a huge difference in ride and handling. On rough roads, the Jetta provides a compliant and comfortable ride. Handling is almost similar to the Golf Wolfsburg I drove earlier in the year - little body roll and excellent steering response. The SE seen here came with an as-tested price of $21,795 with destination. That includes 16-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, blind spot monitoring, keyless entry, push-button start, cruise control, and a power sunroof. The 2017 Volkswagen Jetta is much better than the model that was launched only five years ago. But that isn’t saying a lot considering how much the compact class has moved up in this time frame. Price may be the Jetta’s ultimate strength as it offers a lot of features for the money with the 1.4T engine and interior space running slightly behind. Everywhere else, the Jetta is outmatched. Disclaimer: Volkswagen Provided the Jetta, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Volkswagen
      Model: Jetta
      Trim: SE
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.4L 16V TSI Four-Cylinder 
      Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 150 @ 5,000 
      Torque @ RPM: 184 @ 1,400
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/40/33
      Curb Weight: 2,939 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Puebla, Mexico
      Base Price: $20,895
      As Tested Price: $21,715 (Includes $820.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: N/A
    • By William Maley
      Volvo Announces July Sales

      ROCKLEIGH, N.J. (August 1, 2017) - Volvo Car USA, LLC, (VCUSA) reported U.S. sales of 6,967 vehicles for the month of July. The top seller for the month was the XC90 with 2,521 vehicles sold. The sell-down of the current XC60 continues, while the first all-new XC60 customer cars arrived this month and were delivered.
       
      Volvo is implementing a sweeping $11 billion transformation plan that has involved the development of its own modular vehicle architecture, a new engine range, global manufacturing capability, a completely renewed product range and world leading developments in safety, autonomous driving and connectivity.  
      Models July 2017 July 2016 % Year To Date 2017 Year To Date 2016 % S60 904 1,864 -51.5 % 6,853 7,649 -10.4 % S60 CC 32 42 -23.8 % 139 362 -61.6 % S80 0 79 - 5 403 -98.8 % S90 855 259 230.1 % 3,809 267 1,326.6 % V60 121 384 -68.5 % 1,690 2,119 -20.2 % V60 CC 127 339 -62.5 % 1,604 1,464 9.6 % V90 47 0 100.0 % 61 0 100.0 % V90 CC 176 0 100.0 % 1,067 0 100.0 % XC60 1,329 2,097 -36.6 % 10,240 10,928 -6.3 % XC60 II 855 0 100.0 % 979 0 100.0 % XC70 0 632 - 73 3,141 -97.7 % All-New XC90 2,521 2,888 -12.7 % 14,552 18,905 -23.0 % Total 6,967 8,584 -18.8 % 41,072 45,238 -9.2 % * I, II, III etc shows which generation the car model belongs to.
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