An estimated one in four Volvo S60 buyers will opt for sporty R-Design models, and weve tested one fitted with a 202bhp 2.4-litre D5 diesel engine on UK roads.
R-Design brings styling changes including a more aggressive front-end look thanks to bumper and grille changes a rear diffuser and the addition of twin exhaust pipes. It also sits on a different design of 18-inch alloy wheels.
Interior modifications include front sports seats with more lateral support, while the pedals are finished in aluminium, the steering wheel is a different, three-spoke design and the dials are backlit in blue.
On the road
The R-Design package also includes springs lowered by 15mm and stiffened by 15% and the addition of a strut brace under the bonnet to stiffen the body structure. The power steering has also been altered to give the car a more sporty feel.
The benefits are noticeable, if not ground-breaking. The S60 R-Design is more alert to drive than the standard car, rolling less in corners, moving less over bumps and being all the more engaging for it. The steering also offers reasonable feedback.
However, if driving pleasure is top of your wish-list, youre still better off with a BMW 3 Series, which rides and handles better, has better-weighted steering and has a slicker gearshift.
Perhaps more tellingly, the S60 R-Design remains a decently composed car in almost all conditions, the additional firmness and larger wheels only changing from being merely noticeable to slightly irritating on the poorest road surfaces, and then quite specifically at speeds around 30-50mph.
As a result, the S60s trump card of comfort remains largely intact and is even enhanced by the clingy but comfortable sports seats - which has to be good news because that is a significant part of what sets it apart from its compact executive rivals.
The D5 engine we drove also suits this model well, although Volvo is offering R-Design packs for every S60 variant, including its eco-minded DRIVe model. With 202bhp and 310lb ft it has plenty of performance the 0-62mph time is 7.4sec but still averages 53.3mpg with the manual gearbox.
Volvo S60 R-Design prices start from £25,100 for the T3 diesel model, with the D5 diesel model tested here starting from £30,630. Across the range, R-Design costs around £550 more than the mid-grade SE trim, although they are not equally kitted out.