For Volvo, a motor company so closely associated with safety, the frenetic world of motor racing may not seem like an obvious playground… There is, however, something strangely appealing about seeing a mom’s school run car taking to the track.
This was certainly the case in 1994, when a Tom Walkinshaw prepared Volvo 850 Estate went toe-to-toe against the establishment in that year’s BTCC (British touring car championship). With a very capable Rickard Rydell at the helm spectators and television audiences around the world rejoiced at the sight of this family wagon getting stuck in and swopping paint with cars from manufacturers with more notable track heritages.
Sadly for these audiences, myself included, a rule change the following year saw the Estate retired in favour of an (ultimately more successful), 850 Saloon, but, to this day, ask any fan of racing about their fondest World touring car championship memories and the sight of a Volvo 850 Estate clipping the curb is almost guaranteed to make the top 5.
Through Swedish company Polestar, Volvo is currently represented on the grids of both the Swedish Touring Car Championship and, returning for the 2011 season, the respected BTCC with homegrown driver Robert Dahlgren. A race-ready C30 model is the current weapon of choice.
With both its racing history and current track competitiveness in mind, Volvo South Africa saw fit to launch the new R-Design versions of its S60 and V60 models at the Kyalami racetrack. Also present on the day was a more than subtle hint at future performance derivatives of both body styles.
Complementing the aggressive new body design treatments on the Volvo S60 and V60 R-Design models are a combination of chassis modifications aimed at improving the respective dynamics of each vehicle. A strut brace under the bonnet improves rigidity for a shaper steering feel, while 20 per cent firmer bushes on monotube dampers ensure improved stability through the twisty bits.
Interior upgrades to R-Design models include new sports steering wheel, gear selector, pedals, and floor mats, together with more supportive front seats.
Available throughout the range, the R-Design upgrade is intended to enhance the drivability of the respective vehicles, without the need for engine tuning. Those keen on more power should look forward to the launch of Volvo’s Polestar Performance conversions, scheduled for introduction later this year. To be carried out at any Volvo dealership this software upgrade is said to increase performance by up to 10 per cent, depending on the engine in question. Expect the Polestar Performance conversion to cost between R10 000 and R15 000.
Volvo S60 R-Design derivatives
T6 AWD Geartronic R-Design R489,300.00
T5 Manual R-Design R405,000.00
T5 Powershift R-Design R421,400.00
2.0T Manual R-Design R380,700.00
2.0T Powershift R-Design R397,200.00
T4 Manual R-Design R356,800.00
T4 Powershift R-Design R374,200.00
T3 Manual R-Design R332,600.00
D3 Manual R-Design R 377,400.00
D3 Geartronic R-Design R 391,300.00
D5 Geartronic R-Design R 433,200.00
Volvo V60 R-Design derivatives
T6 AWD Geartronic R-Design R499,900.00
T5 Manual R-Design R415,500.00
T5 Powershift R-Design R 431,600.00
2.0T Manual R-Design R 391,300.00
2.0T Powershift R-Design R407,300.00
T4 Manual R-Design R367,100.00
T4 Powershift R-Design R384,600.00
T3 Manual R-Design R342,900.00
D3 Manual R-Design R387,900.00
D3 Geartronic R-Design R402,100.00
D5 Geartronic R-Design R443,600.00