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2012 Volvo S60 R-Design (photos)

The Volvo S60 is a very nice car, a reasonable competitor to the BMW 3 Series, but the R-Design label adds little to the car, besides a little more power and a higher price tag.

Wayne_Cunningham.jpg
Wayne_Cunningham.jpg

Wayne Cunningham

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1 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
Volvo launched its updated S60 sedan last year, showing off a modern, premium European car that competes well with the BMW 3 Series. The R-Design version, new for 2012, is intended to be a sportier version.

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The S60 presents a design far from Volvo's older, boxy style. This car, although not setting itself significantly apart from the competition, has a modern look. White LED lightpipes inboard from the headlight casings are a recognizable touch when driving at night.

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The S60 R-Design mostly sets itself apart from the standard S60 through engine programming, which gets it an extra 25 horsepower from this turbocharged 3-liter inline six-cylinder engine.

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The S60 R-Design's lines are not much different from that of other European sedans. A curving roofline provides ample headroom for five passengers.

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Volvo sport-tunes the suspension for the R-Design model, yet it did not feel particularly capable when cornering. Its standard torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive should provide more of an assist, especially under slippery conditions.

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The trunk is long, able to fit luggage deep into the car.

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As a premium sedan, Volvo does a nice job with cabin materials. We particularly like the floating console, which allows some storage space underneath.

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The steering did not feel overly dynamic, but it was responsive, turning the wheels with minimal input.

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Cabin tech controls on the steering wheel spoke allow access to voice and volume control, along with the ability to skip songs. Voice command worked reasonably well, and recognized the street names we gave it.

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Volvo's clean design can be seen in the instrument cluster gauges.

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The maps show good resolution, and we particularly liked the route guidance function, which aggressively avoided traffic jams and showed lane guidance even on surface streets.

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Rotary alpha-numeric input can become tedious, but voice command lets you avoid it.

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The Bluetooth phone system is very capable, making contacts available on screen and working through voice command or the keypad in the car.

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The stereo offers many modern audio sources, such as iPod, USB, Bluetooth streaming, and satellite and HD radio.

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The iPod library screen is typical, showing album, artist, and genre categories.

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This screen shows the current track playing, with complete information as to artist and album.

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A five-band graphic equalizer lets you precisely tune the sound quality.

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The S60 R-Design comes standard with Volvo's City Safety feature, which uses a forward-looking camera to recognize other vehicles and pedestrians, automatically applying the brakes if it senses an impending collision.

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The rear view camera works very well, showing trajectory and distance lines to aid in parking.

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