It seems rather unimaginative and lazy to say that Volvos aren’t boring any more. In fact, Volvos have been quite interesting for many years now. Interesting to look at, interesting to drive.
But I'm tempted to say that anyway, because the flagship V60 T6 R-Design creates an especially large contrast between that old perception of Volvo (which does still rear its ugly head occasionally) and the reality of the marque's products, circa-2012.
The V60 T6 boasts a 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine with a turbocharger and four-wheel drive. It looks sexy and is great to drive.
But New Zealand Volvo importer Motorcorp Distributors Limited (MDL) has chosen to add a slightly outrageous edge to the V60 T6 adding a Polestar performance kit as standard kit.
Polestar? It's Volvo's motorsport/tuning partner, which offers a software upgrade for the T6 that injects an extra 18kW/40Nm into the engine: totals 242kW/480Nm, with 0-100km/h of 5.9 seconds. It all sounds pretty serious.
That's in addition to the R-Design package, which brings styling, suspension and alloy-wheel enhancements. A price of $93,990 is also pretty serious, but even at that figure the V60 T6 R-Design is still a lot of car for the money.
The engine has a slightly raw aural flavor which is very appealing. The V60 is not a car known for its nimble chassis character, but with all that power and the traction of all-wheel drive you can truly conquer Kiwi backroads with the correct 'slow in, fast out' driving style.
The V60's interior is magnificent: much better than the (much more expensive) equivalents from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Audi is still superior for quality of materials, but not for styling, ergonomic good sense and sheer character.
The V60 cabin is a genuinely nice place to be and definitely one you'd choose for the long haul: everything falls to hand beautifully and the seats are superb.
Has the boring stuff been forgotten? Absolutely not. Volvo has never turned away from its emphasis on cutting-edge safety, although of that equipment is now optional on lesser models. Not in the T6: you get adaptive cruise control with collision warning, pedestrian detection, auto-brake and queue assist. All V60s have the City Safety system, which will automatically brake to stop you hitting the car in front at up to 15km/h.
Not boring. But despite the outrageous performance, not straying too far form what you might expect of a Volvo station wagon either.