The letter "R" is the secret ingredient in the 2004 Volvo S60 R. It stands for "integrated performance," melding power, handling and refinement into one slick package. Price US: $37,560. Canada: $59,995. Warranty: 4-years/50,000 miles.
The typical 2004 Volvo S60 R buyer will likely be someone who is highly conscious of both style and performance yet wants something a little different. And he wants something that does not originate in or near Stuttgart. And I use "he" intentionally as the 2004 Volvo S60 R is clearly going after the lucrative 30-45 years old male demographic. While very lucrative it's also a tough sell because of all the competition. Still, they should sell plenty of these, especially in Europe. In many (but not all) European countries, enforcement of traffic laws is not skewed towards revenue collection and you can actually enjoy owning and driving an automobile as capable as the 2004 Volvo S60 R. Whereas the S60's focus is merely good performance in a very safe package, the R's focus is pure performance. Of course, it has all of the S60's comfort and class-leading safety features but these come with eye-popping acceleration and terrific handling.
The 2004 Volvo S60 R looks a lot like the regular S60 from a distance but when you get a bit closer you see a number of subtle, though significant, differences. It rides on 18-inch Pegasus alloy wheels and 235/40VR/18 Pirelli P-zero Rosso tires. Stopping comes via huge Brembo 330 mm ventilated front and rear discs with aluminum 4-rotor calipers. Each caliper is emblazoned with a stylized "R". The front grill and the right rear trunk lid have the same discrete "R". While none of these hollers "point your radar gun this way, officer" they tell those of us who are paying attention that this Volvo is very serious. Few places in any automobile sold anywhere are as comfortable as the front seats of any late-model Volvo. The rear seats are okay as well, with adequate but not limo-like rear legroom. With the driver's seat in its best position for a driver of my dimensions my knees were just touching the front seat's backrest. The rear seats are also set a bit too low. When you're buckled in back there, you look right into the front seat headrests. While that's fine for short trips, it's not a fun way to travel long distances. But who's going to use them anyway? After all, you're not buying an "R" to carpool.
On the Road
The new 2004 Volvo S60 R, the latest in the Swedish company's line of "R" designated performance cars, comes standard with a 5-cylinder, high-boost turbocharged engine that develops 300 horsepower at 5500 rpm, plus 295 lb-ft of torque all the way from 1950 to 5250 rpm. It also comes with a very smooth shifting 6-speed close-ratio, short-throw manual transmission, electronically controlled all-wheel-drive, and sophisticated computer-actuated suspension that adjusts to driving conditions 500 times per second. In other words, this isn't your father's Volvo. In fact, it's a huge leap from Volvo of just a few years ago. The R models are the first Volvos to incorporate the active 4C (Continuously Controlled Chassis Concept) technology that offer three driver-selected levels of ride and handling. The 2004 Volvo S60 R will hold its own against small supercars like the Subaru WRX-STi and the Lancer Evolution. In fact it is every bit as quick as those two cars yet it feels considerably more refined, like an Audi S4.
You folks who already own an S60 or know a bit about them will be disappointed to learn the 2004 Volvo S60 R still has an unacceptably wide turning radius: 42.7 ft. curb-to-curb. Perhaps there's something about the S60's basic chassis that precludes Volvo from improving on that but it's certainly something for Volvo to work on for the 2005 model. While the 2004 Volvo S60 R comes with plenty of most everything you need, there are still a few options (all of which add to the already-pricey sticker). Here's what isn't standard equipment: AudioMax 200W sound system; DVD-based navigation system; power moonroof. The 2004 Volvo S60 R confirms Volvo's position as a manufacturer of some very stylish, yet very serious performance sedans. And while competition is stiff we think Volvo's reputation will be the key factor.