I should have mentioned it. The Volvo S60 R-Design is a great car--a real luxury sedan that competes well with the mid-sized offerings from Audi, BMW and Infiniti. This car probably doesn't beat the BMW 3-Series or Audi A4 for overall performance and quality--but it comes closer than you might expect.
Volvo's R-Design model series is the high-end version of Volvo's S60 and S70 sedans. The $46,875 loaded version I drove in Manhattan had a serious edge, with a turbocharged 325-horsepower six-cylinder engine (0-60mph in around 5 seconds) and a 6-speed transmission with sport-shift and all wheel drive.
It also looked surprisingly cool, thanks in part to the re-designed front fascia, an angled rear diffuser, a slight spoiler and 18-inch R-Design wheels. The cherry paint and black leather interior befit its genuinely sporty nature.
Saturday's snowstorm, combined with the car's still-on summer tires (a no-cost option), prevented an extended run behind the wheel of the S60, but we spent enough time together to find out that its suspension is taut, the brakes centered and smooth (though nothing stellar) and the handling pleasingly nimble for its weight. Everything about the drive systems felt focused on the road ahead. We had a real connection.
I was also impressed with what the S60 had to offer inside. Looks and power matter, of course, but so does the internal psyche: The design of the blue instrument dials, the heavily bolstered sport seats and the overall feel of the cabin proved solidly well-made. The rear seat was large and comfortable without being big, the trunk large, the dash simple and refined.
Volvo's S60 costs about the same as the base BMW 335i ($42,050) and considerably more than the Audi A4 ($32,500), but the S60 offers a lot more for free. Rather than faux leather and relatively spartan trimmings (which, I admit, is admirable in many cases), S60 comes with a leather sport steering wheel and gearshift, a power glass moonroof, active dual xenon headlights, dual-zone climate control, illuminated controls, Bluetooth and audio streaming. Choose many of those things in the other cars and the price adds up quick.
S60 R-Design also comes standard with the Swedish (now-owned-by-Geely) company's famous safety devices: dynamic traction control, inflatable side curtains and dual chamber air bags, whiplash protection, supplemental restraints, an adaptive steering column, security system and rear fog lights, among other things.
Fuel efficiency is 18 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway. Top speed: 134 mph.
Here's to a new crush.
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