Race to Design the Car of

Design the car

With its attractive design, spacious cabin, solid performance, and superstar safety credentials, Volvo’s XC60 crossover has all the makings of a sales leader. And it is one—within the Volvo family, anyway. But as one of the newer entries in the compact-luxury-SUV class, the XC60 has not been able to break into the segment’s top ranks. Perhaps more power will help the situation.

Volvo added the dressy R-Design package midway through the XC60’s first model year. It brought more than a pretty face and a dressed-up interior. The original R-Design also had 10-percent-quicker steering, 10-percent-firmer shocks, and chunky 20-inch wheels. For 2012, the package becomes more enticing. The R-Design treatment has in the past been applied to both the naturally aspirated XC60 3.2 and the more powerful, all-wheel-drive-only T6 models, but this year, it is the sole province of the T6 AWD. Software tweaks developed by Volvo racing affiliate Polestar Performance raise the turbocharged inline-six’s output from 300 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque to 325 hp at 6500 rpm and 354 lb-ft from 3000 rpm.

T6 Is Quick, R-Design Is Quicker

The XC60 T6 AWD has always been quick. Shortly after the XC60 launched as a 2010 model, a T6 AWD placed third in a comparison test of five compact luxury crossovers (it missed second place by one point to the first-generation BMW X3). With 281 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque back then, running through a six-speed automatic transmission, that XC60 hit 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. For 2011, the XC60’s T6 was upgraded to 300 hp. That still wasn’t enough, apparently.

Still, despite its thirst and numb steering, the XC60 R-Design’s overall enjoyment factor is high. And lest you think the R-Design is straying too far from traditional Volvo values, this model’s front sport seats provide the support and comfort for which the brand has become famous./p table border="0" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="0"x">

The XC60 R-Design is offered with the same three trim tiers as are the 3.2 and T6 AWD models—standard, Premier Plus, and Platinum—with prices starting at $44, 575, $46, 325, and $49, 025, respectively. An R-Design costs $4250 more than a comparable XC60 T6 AWD model, the extra money going toward sporty front and rear fascias, satin metal trim, and body-color lower moldings, plus the aforementioned wheels, suspension upgrades, and software flash. It also earns a couture interior featuring aluminum-trimmed gauges with blue faces, metal pedals, smoke-tinted aluminum console trim, an R-Designed three-spoke steering wheel (without shift paddles, sadly), and either of two black-and-white perforated leather treatments. Our XC60 R-Design Platinum test vehicle was dripping with options, including the Climate package, the Technology package, and blind-spot detection, bloating the price to a whopping $53, 375. That might seem like a lot of coin for a small crossover…until you try pricing out the only other little luxo ute that can keep up with it, the BMW X3 xDrive35i.

So the XC60’s horsepower supremacy does not translate into performance supremacy. The R-Design is still sufficiently sporty to fulfill the promise made by its bold, athletic design. We’re pretty sure the R-Design model won’t shoot the XC60 to the top of the crossover sales charts, but it’s a good—and quick—start.

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