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    Ask any car enthusiast what they think of Volvo, and most will probably comment on the unique boxy exterior design, or the brand’s extensive focus on safety, or the practicality of a wagon with more trunk space than most SUVs.

    2012 VOLVO S60 R-DESIGN

     Unfortunately, Volvo all but abandoned the idea of high performance over the years, and even the exterior design, while still unique, has become more soft and conforming. Luckily, it appears the suits in Gothenburg have taken notice, as 2012 marks the return of a legitimate Volvo sports sedan in the form of the S60 R-Design.

     To create the S60 R-Design, Volvo turned to Polestar, an outfit that specializes in tuning Volvos. The result is an S60 that features a fully reworked suspension, retuned engine, aggressive body kit, and unique 18” wheels. The car came dressed in a very conspicuous shade of red, which helps give the car a more aggressive appearance, but definitely won’t help you stay unnoticed by your local law enforcement.

     Unlike some wannabe sports sedans, the S60 R-Design has the performance to back up this racy paint job. It begins with the powertrain, which features Volvo’s turbocharged 3.0 liter V6, tuned to produce a healthy 325 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission that feeds power to all four wheels. Although not the quickest off the line, once you’re underway there is plenty of power available in every gear.


     The first-generation Focus represented a radical departure in Ford’s styling language back in 1998 and it was an even bigger deal Stateside, and the latest Focus is a mature reinterpretation of the original design. The third generation design is light years ahead of that of the North American second generation, and it has a good aggressive stance despite its front overhang and its FWD configuration. It’s been over ten years since Ford has brought its world-class compact sedan and hatchback to America. During this time, those of us in the U.S. completely missed out on the second generation of the Ford Focus that the rest of the world had access.

     Focus has a 2.0L inline four cylinder engine that pumps out 160 hp and 146 ft-lbs of torque, which gives it decent acceleration from dead stop and acceptable passing power on the highway. It is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission that gets the Focus a set of very respectable MPGs: 27/37 city/highway.

    Attention to detail is also evident on this third-gen Focus, the fuel door is well integrated under the taillight on the right rear quarter panel, cleaning up some usual unnecessary clutter. Comes with optional 18-inch alloy wheels, which definitely help establish road presence. The handling on the Focus was a vast improvement over the previous generations. The steering was one of the tightest felt in a front wheel drive car in this class, and road feel was good and response was quick to the driver’s commands.

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