Bargain Used S60 Rs Remind Us Of Volvo's Charismatic Five-Pot Past

As Volvo announces an end to any further development on its petrol engines, we take a look back at one of the highlights of Volvo's characterful five-cylinder history
Bargain Used S60 Rs Remind Us Of Volvo's Charismatic Five-Pot Past

Volvo exists, as it ever has, to sell cars. It’s always done so in a way that set it apart from the true mainstream, too. In the 1990s, for example, you knew that a Volvo estate would have more space than your front room and would keep running at least until Satan holds his 100th annual Christmas ice skating party.

There’s an awful lot to like in Volvo’s back-catalogue, especially on the petrol side. The news that Volvo has stopped all combustion engine development, as it looks to steal a march on its rivals toward the ultimate goal of electrification, has made us a bit sad. There’s probably going to be a lot more where that came from, over the next decade or two.

Bargain Used S60 Rs Remind Us Of Volvo's Charismatic Five-Pot Past

So, naturally, being your friendly Internet-based automotive nostalgia fiends, we’ve had our noses in the classifieds. One of the most interesting, unexpected, charismatic and woefully misunderstood cars Volvo ever sold was the S60 R. Billed as ‘Volvo’s M3’ by the media at the time, it had 300bhp and 295lb ft from a turbocharged 2.5-litre five-piston petrol engine. Character? It had buckets of the stuff.

It had ample speed, too. It would launch to 62mph in a little over six seconds and manage a top speed of 157mph. Four-wheel drive helped it off the line, but a dopey automatic gearbox fitted the sports saloon’s M3-bashing image about as well a pair of those eyelashes you see on Fiat 500s. The car was totally misinterpreted; it was never about beating the E46 M3 at its own game. BMW had aced the 100m sprint with its frantic, furious six-pot M3, but Volvo had entered the 400m.

Bargain Used S60 Rs Remind Us Of Volvo's Charismatic Five-Pot Past

This long-legged brute was a well-equipped and sporty-feeling Swede whose actual talents were limited to straight-line speed, Autobahn blasts and making you feel just a little proud of taking the road less travelled. An M3 was the easy choice, but the S60 R was even more interesting.

It was also a choice made by much fewer idiots. Plenty of the many, many E46 M3s that were sold in the UK were slowly (or very, very quickly) destroyed or allowed to fall into ruin through lack of care. That, or a chronic mismatch of ambition versus talent. Most S60 Rs have escaped that fate, though there were fewer around to begin with.

Bargain Used S60 Rs Remind Us Of Volvo's Charismatic Five-Pot Past

If you’re looking to get in on the old-school, warbly, five-cylinder turbo action, prices are rising. Four years ago you could pick a tidy one up for about £3500, but now you’re looking at almost double that. The cheapest on Auto Trader at the time of writing is this colourful specimen, with aqua-blue paint over a slightly tired-looking black and tan interior and an 85,000-mile odometer reading. The price is £2995.

It’s modified, says the ad, but there’s precious little detail for a car as prone to problems as this one can be. For one thing the transfer case can fail with a loss of drive to the rear wheels, potentially without you even noticing. It “needs a bit of TLC,” too, which is trade speak for “full respray and 100 man-hours in a workshop.” The seller here just isn’t working hard enough to tell you what you need to know, so our pick would be something more like this one, from a dealer who has five for sale on Auto Trader right now.

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The advert is still crap (why aren’t dealers better at this?!), but with so many on its books you’d hope that the seller knows the car, knows its faults and will have put the key things straight before advertising it. At £6000 this imported 83,000-miler isn’t cheap, and it’s twice the price of our fetching turquoise option, but it doesn’t look to have been meddled with and the, err, vivid orange leather seats look immaculate.

Packed with heated electric seats, rear parking sensors, climate control, cruise control and more, what’s not to like? The S60 R is a relaxed, thirsty and odd way to buy into the 300bhp club, but it blends understatement and charisma like Timothy Dalton as James Bond. We like it. Volvo may end up selling more cars than ever as an EV specialist, but that won’t stop us missing oddballs like this.



Well I just buy it in Britain, ship it to here and… then I get all those people who ask me why I drive a RHD… The chopped right hand didn’t work well with the Seat Ibiza Cupra, got stopped by the Polizei and they found my trick out… So this time I’ll just say my right hand is paralysed…

03/03/2018 - 08:24 |
10 | 2

I’d buy it, then I’d put a loud exhaust on it, take it to Gothenburg, and drive around Volvo’s headquarters continuously, to let them know that they were wrong to ditch the 5 pot.

03/03/2018 - 08:49 |
192 | 0
Aaron 15

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

In which case, I’d buy a Jag XJ12C, straight pipe it and drive around Gaydon telling Jaguar that they were wrong to ditch making V12s!

03/03/2018 - 11:46 |
70 | 0
Dante Verna

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I support this idea entirely.

03/03/2018 - 16:07 |
18 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Thay would be like I can’t figure out why he’s doing that it is less safe

03/04/2018 - 02:55 |
10 | 0
Joel Brennan

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I’ll grab an S/V60 Polestar and do the same thing! WE WANT GAS-POWERED HEARTS IN OUR CARS!

03/05/2018 - 16:03 |
0 | 0

Make Volvo Warbly Again

03/03/2018 - 09:35 |
42 | 0
TurboToddler (Straight-five)

In reply to by Wogmidget

I second that ^

03/03/2018 - 09:55 |
2 | 0

Needs a lip spoiler imo.

03/03/2018 - 09:53 |
4 | 0

That colour on the thumbnail one is godly

03/03/2018 - 10:00 |
2 | 0

Would 1.9 T4 conrods fit a B4164S (length, bottom diameter)?
Trying to cheat TÜV’s bulgarian b*tch - technotest.

03/03/2018 - 10:16 |
2 | 0

The autos can only do 0-60 in 7 seconds. The transmission was fragile so the torque was nannied.

03/03/2018 - 11:19 |
2 | 0

Guess what else is fragile, other than the S60 R’s auto?

03/04/2018 - 22:21 |
0 | 0

They did a facelift with six speed auto that wasn’t torque limited

03/05/2018 - 14:31 |
0 | 0

considering how you can buy a 2.4 t5 with only 40 bhp less and over 100kg lighter than the R for less than 1/3 of the price, i’d have the former

03/03/2018 - 11:36 |
2 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Na they’re rarer than the R dude. (in manual)

03/05/2018 - 14:30 |
0 | 0

2 things I wanna say here,

  1. Volvo did make a Manual one but not many people bought it for some stupid reason
  2. Who cares if it’s not as good as an e46 M3,it’s sure as hell more beautiful
03/03/2018 - 12:26 |
18 | 2

I know this comment is late (btw don’t judge me by my name) but here it goes; Both of them are beautiful and powerful the only difference is that the M3 is more savage and sporty in all aspects and the Volvo is a refined and luxurious sports car.

03/06/2018 - 09:12 |
4 | 0

The reason was that you have to drive it and not race it

08/04/2018 - 13:11 |
0 | 0

Honestly, it doesn’t even have to be the S60R. The 2.0T and 2.4T were turbocharged inline-5s too (in fact, all the engines for this car were inline-5s) and with 180 and 200 bhp respectively, you have enough power for every day too. Then again, these models are unlikely to rise in value over the years, whereas with the S60R it is likely that your investment will return some day.

03/03/2018 - 13:17 |
18 | 0



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