Once upon a time, there was a subtle wagon called the V70R who's meek outward appearance belied the snortiest turbo 5-cylinder Volvo has ever put in a production car. All-wheel-drive helped the power get to the ground instead of immolating the front tires, and the R sat atop the V70 trim-level range. Alas, the R is no more. While it was awesome and amusing, it was also outgunned by the competition, even with 300 hard-breathing horsepower. Still, there are those who desire the look and demeanor of the R, while finding no fault with the lesser powertrains that Volvo offers.
Those buyers can find what they're looking for with the new V70 R-Design package on the third generation wagon. Since the demise of the R, the V70 has moved up to become the wagon version of the S80, and the R-Line package adds a little visual oomph and chassis verve to the big estate. Ride height has been reduced and thicker swaybars are added, along with higher durometer bushings in the suspension. Like we saw on the C30 R-Design, matte finish metal accents are added to exterior pieces like the mirror housings and grille surround. Sporty-looking exhaust outlets, a rear spoiler and 18-inch wheels round out the exterior changes. The interior gets blue-faced gauges, unique metal trim pieces, and Volvo's already excellent seats get R-Design logos and sportier bolstering. The R-Design package adds £2,000 or so to the price of a UK V70, a decent price for a handling upgrade and a hunkered look. Volvo hasn't decided whether to bring it to the United States yet. If it does come to the North American market, the V70 R-Design will be a 2009 model, and we'll know by early summer if we have to look longingly across the pond for a clean-looking, sporty-driving wagon.