Speedy Swede: Volvo S60 R-Design
OK, name me a sporty Swede. If you thought Bjorn Borg, or golfer Annika Sorenstam, well done, you win first prize. Claim your IKEA gift certificate on the way out. What you're unlikely to answer is 'Volvo'. Safe, of course. Sturdy, yes. Practical, very much so. Sporty? Er, I don't think so. But what you probably don't know is that Volvo's hot little four-door S60 thrashed all rivals - including Corvettes, Vipers and Mustangs - to win the hard-fought World Challenge GT Championship last year. Or that its new hot-shot S60 R-Design offers more driving fun than a day at Daytona with Jeff Gordon.What we have here is a fast and feisty four-door with a 325-horsepower turbocharged 'six' with all-wheel drive, sports suspension and a look that screams 'fun'. Based on the regular S60 T6, the R-Design gets a unique front fascia and grille, deck lid spoiler and rear diffuser and 18-inch alloys, giving it the look of the Volvo race car. But instead of being all show and no extra 'go', the straight-six motor gets an extra 25 horses and a torque boost from 325 lb-ft to 354 lb-ft. Now when you step on the gas, 60mph comes up from standstill in just 5.3 seconds. Volvo engineers also worked on the suspension, lowering the ride height by half an inch and firming up springing by 15 per cent. But the suspension isn't that stiff that it'll loosen dental work. But show it a curvy on-ramp or twisty back road, and this hard-charging, yet refined Volvo grips the blacktop like Velcro on velvet - and puts a mile-wide smile on your face. And with a base sticker of $42,500, the R-Design offers a lot of gravy for your meatballs. Think of it as a smorgasbord of sportiness. Tampa-based auto writer Howard Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.