What it is:
In New York, Volvo debuted the 2014 Volvo S60 R-Design and XC60 R-Design, sporty trim levels of its S60 and XC60 midsize luxury sedan and crossover models that both offer front- or rear-wheel drive. Upgrades on the outside include new front and rear fascias, black-accented 19-inch wheels and rear diffusers. The cars were also lowered for better handling and a more aggressive look. Most important, Volvo's Polestar tuning arm has increased power from 304 to 329 hp on top-line T6 models.
Volvo hasn't announced pricing, but we'd expect the new models to be $2,000 to $3,000 more than the regular S60 and XC60 models.
When you can get it:
The R-Design Volvos will go on sale this summer.
Add it to your shopping list because:
The R-Design models combine the practicality and safety of a Volvo with bold styling and sporty touches. While the new models will be offered on several S60 and XC60 trims, the one to get is a T6 model with the optional Polestar power bump. The available 329 hp makes the XC60 T6 one of today's most powerful crossovers -- and it lowers the model's 0-to-60 time to just 6.9 seconds. It also gives the 2014 Volvo S60 T6 more power than the BMW 335i, Lexus IS 350 or other sport sedan rivals. It's a good compromise for shoppers who are torn between safety and sporty.
Other cars to consider:
Audi S4: With 333 hp, the S4 nearly matches the S60 T6 R-Design on power. Its starting price above $48,000 is a little higher than the Volvo's, but the S4 comes with a long list of standard equipment. It also touts great steering and handling.
BMW 335i: The 335i is a competitor to the S60 T6 R-Design. It starts around $44,000 and offers 300 hp. Despite the power disadvantage, its driving experience is among the best in the business.
BMW X3: The X3 xDrive35i uses the same 300-hp turbocharged engine as the 335i. Like the XC60, it combines sportiness and practicality. And shoppers can get an xDrive35i model with the performance-oriented M Sport package for around $50,000.
Lexus RX 350 F-Sport: The newly updated RX 350 F-Sport boasts sporty handling and crisp styling. Priced from $48,000, its 270-hp V6 isn't quite up to challenging the XC60's Polestar-tuned turbo engine. But it's larger inside and includes a long list of standard equipment.