- The Washington Times - Friday, April 18, 2003

Aiming to appeal to a broader market, Volvo is back with a pair of "R" concept models.
Introduced in 1995, the bright yellow T-5R wagon shattered the stodgy Volvo image by offering a spark of driving excitement to those who needed a practical family car. The mission of the new "R" cars hasn't changed it's to reinforce driving excitement as a Volvo trademark. The S60 R is a performance sedan and the V70 R is a performance wagon.
Developed from Volvo's 2.3-liter turbo program, the R engine is Volvo's most powerful. Displacement has increased to 2.5 liters, and the turbo is bigger for greater boost pressure of almost 15 pounds per square inch. To lower the temperature of the compressed intake air, R models have two intercoolers one behind the air-conditioning condenser and a second below the bumper just behind the enlarged air intake in the spoiler.
Continuously variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust valves provides maximum power and torque over a wide engine speed range. All that high-tech hardware cranks out 300 horsepower from a lowly inline five-cylinder engine.
The five-speed automatic transmission comes standard with Geartronic, Volvo's version of the manual/automatic. An added feature on the R is a selector to set Comfort or Sport modes. Comfort mode allows the transmission to shift normally, but Sport mode shifts down sooner and stays in the same gear longer. The six-speed manual gearbox has short throws and minimal sideways movement for fast shifts.
The R's standard all-wheel-drive system distributes the engine power automatically between the front and rear wheels, with the aid of a Haldex electronically controlled hydraulic coupling. If either front wheel spins, the power is transferred immediately to the rear wheels.
Power is shared between the left and right wheels on each axle using the anti-spin traction-control system called TRACS. The anti-lock brake sensors measure the rotation speed of each wheel. If one wheel starts to rotate faster than the other wheel on the same axle, the spinning wheel is braked to transfer the power to the other wheel, which has better traction.
Four-C, Volvo's acronym for continuously controlled chassis concept, is an advanced, electronically controlled shock-absorber system. The system continuously checks the movements and reactions of the car with a number of sensors and automatically adapts the stiffness of the shock absorbers. Four-C allows the driver to vary the character of the chassis when the nature of the road changes or when you want to change the style of your driving. The change takes only a few milliseconds after the touch of a button on the dash.
Three modes are available: Comfort, Sport and Advanced Sport.
Comfort mode allows the wheels to follow the bumps while the body "floats" over them.
Sport mode sets the shocks stiffer to reduce body roll during hard cornering.
Advanced mode stiffens the shocks for maximum road grip but is recommended only for very smooth asphalt roads.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Four-C is its ability to provide dynamic body control. Because the shocks can be made soft or firm in fractions of a second, they are used to control roll during cornering, diving of the front end while braking, and squatting of the rear end during acceleration.
To prevent suspension impacts during severe "bottoming" or full shock-absorber compression or extension, the damping is increased close to either end of suspension travel. Wheel hop while driving on "washboard" roads is eliminated when the system detects suspension oscillations and automatically adjusts the shock damping to stop it.
As well as AWD and Four-C, the S60 R and V70 R have DSTC, or dynamic stability and traction control. Not new to the auto industry, DSTC intervenes to correct skidding. Sensors detect wheel rotation speed, steering wheel angle and the direction the car is rotating about its vertical axis (yaw). The system applies one or more brakes to make the car go in the direction intended by the driver.
Brembo brakes with 13-inch rotors and four-piston calipers also are standard equipment, reinforcing the notion that this is a serious car for serious drivers. With a suggested retail price for its six-speed manual transmission S60 R and V70 R of $36,825 and $38,325, respectively, these two performance cars are set to go head-to-head with the BMW 330xi and Audi A4 3.0 Quattro.

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