Volvo XC60 R-Design SE

Swedish SUV gets a sporty new look

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

Is Volvo swapping safety for sportiness? Hot on the heels of upgraded versions of the C30, S40, V50, V70 and XC90, the XC60 has now received the R-Design treatment – and that means tweaks to the steering and suspension, as well as the styling.

The compact SUV has always been an attractive proposition, but a range of exterior add-ons has made it more appealing. The wing mirrors and side trim are finished in matte silk metal, while rear and side scuff plates and twin chrome tailpipes beef up the bodywork.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Volvo XC60

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Lower sections of the side skirts and bumpers are also coloured to match the rest of the car, while there are standard 18-inch alloy wheels, or optional 20-inch rims.

Climb into the cabin andit’s equally promising. The two-tone leather on the sports seats, floating dashboard and full-length panoramic sunroof give the interior a contemporary feel and character all of its own.

However, while it looks like a sporty SUV, after driving only a few miles it’s clear the XC60 R-Design is anything but.

Volvo says the suspension has been firmed up but not lowered, to maintain what off-road abilities the standard car has, but the differenceis barely perceptible.

In corners, the car pitches and rolls, while an overly light but quick steering rack and a loose manual gearchange mean there are few incentives to push on. The trade-off is a supple ride, making this an excellent long-distance cruiser.

It’s a shame the dynamics disappoint, as the 2.4-litre D5 turbodiesel engine is a peach, with plenty of torque, a smooth power delivery and a lovely note.

Other options include the potent yet thirsty 281bhp T6 petrol, and the efficient  DRIVe variant. This model comes with front-wheel drive and has the same D5 diesel as our car, but power drops to 173bhp to help it achieve 47.1mpg. The DRIVe model sells for around £2,000 less than the D5, too, and we think it’s the model to go for.

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