It’s always an internal struggle when your heart screams “sports car” but your head, along with the pleadings of significant others, requires something more practical.

 

Fortunately, Volvo offers a pleasant way to satisfy both sides of your nerve-wracked conscience with the 2012 S60 R-Design.

 

The S60 demonstrated added style mixed with Swedish sensibility when it was launched for the 2011 model year.

 

At that time, Volvo announced that a more basic S60 would follow.

 

It has delivered on that promise, but in a surprise move, the automaker is also marketing a more aggressive-looking — and acting — performance version.

 

The T6 AWD R-Design is an extension of the same car that has gone further than just about any previous Volvo model since the 1960s P1800 coupe at removing Volvo’s boxy stigma.

For the R-Design, the front and rear end have been remodelled while leaving the surrounding sheetmetal mostly untouched.

The R-Design adds a more muscular dimension to what is one of Volvo’s more popular models.

It’s also one that can satisfy both the heart and the head of just about any driver.

Engine

Under the hood is an inline six-cylinder engine that delivers 325 horsepower and 345 pound-feet of torque. That’s up 25 horsepower over the S60’s standard six-cylinder turbo engine, which was the only engine available for the 2011 model year.

Also joining the lineup for 2012 is a new T5 base model with a 250-horsepower 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo engine. Unlike the 3.0, which is mated to an all-wheel-drive system, the 2.5 comes only as a front-wheel-driver.

0-to-100 km/h

According to Volvo, the R-Design will achieve a zero-to-100 km/h time in about 5.5 seconds, quicker by 0.3 than the now mid-range S60 T6. By comparison, the 333-horsepower Audi S4 is about a half-second quicker still, if that helps put things in perspective.

A six-speed “Geartronic” automatic transmission directs the power to the front (T5) or all four wheels, which is the case with both T6 models.

Fashion statement

The easiest way to tell the T6 AWD R-Design from the rest of the line is by its blacked-out grille, lower chin spoiler and rear lower-body diffuser that’s sandwiched between the twin exhaust pipes. A set of 18-inch “Ixion” alloy wheels makes a unique fashion statement.

The only R-Design logo you’ll find is located in the grille area, which is a very subtle and elegant touch.