Volvos are known for doing things their own way and the S60R is no exception. From the strange inline five-cylinder engine to the copious amount of safety features, this car is unmistakably a Volvo. Fast Volvos were and still aren’t about being the fastest cars on the road. Instead, they offer usable performance that is still fairly safe to control. This misunderstood beast didn’t sell well when new, and never dug a foothold strong enough to be remembered. Today the Volvo S60R is an affordable way to get into a sports sedan that can fly under the radar.
Built to take on the M3, the S60R like all M3 competitors from the early 2000s fell short. The S60R lacked the dynamics and power of the M3 leaving the heavy Volvo in the dust. Even if it didn’t reach the brand’s lofty expectations, the ambitious plan to take on the M3 lead Volvo to build one of their most exciting performance cars.
With a 300hp inline five-cylinder engine mated to either a 6-speed manual or 5-speed auto, the S60R offered something for everyone. This AWD sedan or station wagon, known as the V70R, offered a sporty cruiser or fun to drive sports sedan. Quirky features like the 6-speed manual’s “Space ball” shifter boot or the “Swedish Racing Green” paint made this car stand out from the more reserved competition. The Inline five-cylinder produces some incredible sounds that can be enjoyed by viewing the video at the end of the article. The interior was trimmed with beautiful leather and even offered a car phone. The adaptive suspension from Bilstein could be adjusted for comfort or firmness depending on driving intentions. The 12.9inch front Brembo brakes hauled down this 3,500lb sports sedan from 70 in only 168ft. Even with all these impressive features, Volvo S60R is far more than just data on a spec sheet.
If you were to compare a Volvo to any other competitor on paper the Volvo will usually lose. But this is why I respect Volvo. The endless pissing contest that is car performance metrics doesn’t concern Volvo. You won’t see a Volvo engineer losing sleep over the acceleration of their latest offering. Other car companies can learn from Volvo’s restraint and build cars that can be used on the road.
The S60R didn’t have to beat its German rivals. We don’t need another hardcore sports sedan that can launch you through a brick wall seven towns over. Instead, we need cars that offer luxury and sporty intentions while being usable. Swallowing your pride and buying performance sedan with only 300 horsepower might be the best decision of your life. It’s much easier for a driver with an average skill level to mastering a car with this power level and a Haldex-based AWD system. Admitting to yourself that you are not the best driver on the road and your time spent driving on Forza does not translate to the road will save your life and your bank account.