Safety and Speed

2004, Volvo, S60R

When the safety geeks at Volvo start pulling out those terms you know you're in for a long day of technology. Instead they put us on the Las Vegas International Speedway with the R-cars to show us the performance they were so proud of.

This new Volvo is packaged with the most powerful engine in the Volvo range. Volvo's newly developed five-cylinder 2.5 liter in-line turbocharged power plant produces 300 horsepower and 295 ft. lbs. of torque between 1.950 and 5,250 rpm.

The R engine's power output per liter of cylinder displacement places it among market leaders for performance efficiency. According to Volvo, it outperforms the G35 (260hp- 6.1),the A4(220hp-7.2), and the 330xi(225hp-6.1) in horsepower and 0-60. This performance is based on equally equipped cars, meaning all the above are within the price range to be equal in the buying process. This All-wheel drive in now complimented by a new computer-controlled chassis, aptly called the 4-C.

The high charging pressure significantly raises the temperature of the intake air, so the S60 R and V70 R are fitted with twin intercoolers. You'll notice a slightly larger air scoop under the bumper to house the cooler. That and a spoiler in the back are the only exterior differences we could see between the S60 and the S60R.

The engine is equipped with Dual Wide Range CVVT continuously variable valve timing, on both the intake and exhaust camshafts. CVVT adjusts the valve opening times to suit the engine speed and load, lowering fuel consumption and reducing emissions, while increasing performance. The emission standards of the R engine satisfy American LEV requirements and conform to the European Euro 4 standard.

To withstand the increased stresses, pistons and connecting rods have been heavily reinforced and cylinder head cooling has been improved. The oil sump has been re-designed to safeguard oil supply to the engine under extreme G-forces.

The new Volvo six-speed manual gearbox was specially designed to handle the high torque delivered by the engine. The short-throw shifter allows fast gear changes enhancing the connectivity between the car and driver. Having said that, it still isn't my favorite configuration. The numbers weren't placed exactly where the gear ended up and it took longer than needed to get used to.

The automatic transmission is also adaptive. It monitors the drivers' driving style and adapts the gearchanging pattern accordingly. Think "grade logic". It also has a "Sport" mode selector in which the automatic transmission changes gears at a higher engine speed and downshifts faster.

Volvo's added performance also means the safety of handling and control that comes from the unique Volvo Four C (Continuously Control Chassis Concept). According to Wayne Baldwin, project manager for the R cars and a Volvo-ite for the past 32 years, "You keep the body steady and the wheels do all the motion." 4-C is like rear-wheel drive technology. The oversteer/understeer control will pump up the shocks which cause the backend to come around. Dive reduction already pumps up the shocks in front to keep those Brembo brakes from diving when braking suddenly. This active chassis system, which compensates for road variances using a sophisticated network of sensors including Volvo's Haldex all-wheel-drive system. There are three settings for the suspensin; comfort, sport and advanced sport. Sport is the default setting, though if you leave it in comfort mode when the engine is shut off, it will activate in comfort mode again. The Comfort setting is adjusted so that the car floats over the bumps in the road. The technique is called the skyhook. The skyhook mode is used for the sport mode as well, but the shock absorbers are set stiffer so that the car acts like a sports car, hence the reason they call it sports mode. For the final mode imagine a car hooked to a helicopter and being let go on a freeway and it just takes off. That is advanced sport. The skyhook is released, the shocks are set for optimized maximum contact between tire and road surface. I'm thinking Volvo should be in talks with James Bond for his next movie.

The guys at Volvo have this wicked sense of humor. They get the tarmac wet and then reach into your car and turn off the button that says DSTC on it, and say "try driving now". DSTC (Dynamic Stability and Traction Control), and "performance on demand" versatility, Volvo engineering is takes performance to the next level. DSTC has sensors that detect the rotation speed of each wheel. The dynamic cornering control works first, meaning that DSTC system is delayed. This means that an experienced driver can be permitted to drive more actively through corners. And people like myself can try driving without it till they get scared and decide to put it back on and have fun.

Volvo's legacy for saftey is legendary. The regular S60 and V70 mainly to older men who are post-college with children. This vehicle is being marketed to pre-college men age 35-45. With only 4,000 being sold in the U.S. we're betting Volvo will hit their market

Audi A4 3.0, BMW 330Xi, Infiniti G35, Lexus IS300, Mercedes C320

By Lou Ann Hammond
0000-00-00

More Volvo car reviews?

Images of the 2004, Volvo S60R

2004 Volvo S60R sedan
2004 Volvo S60R sedan
2004 Volvo newest technology
2004 Volvo newest technology