Scheduled to debut next to the refreshed 2010 Volvo C70 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the new Volvo C30 R Design is a unique combination of upcoming trends and everything. Ford has done little to conceal their displeasure with Volvo’s market performance, yet they fail to take any substantial action to reverse the downward trend. Unlike the R badging of the 90’s and early 00’s, the new R-Design is nothing more than a sporty package designed to capture the attention of the flighty, easily-distracted younger demographic.
Once upon a time, if a Volvo 850R or S60R pulled up next to you at the light, you were about 4 seconds away from being dusted by the most serious sleeper in the industry. Both the 850R (1995-1997) and its successor, the S60R (2003-2007), were equipped with a low-pressure turbo I-5 capable of cranking out 240 hp/221 lb-ft and 300 hp/300 lb-ft (respectively) and had more street cred than Heavy D. The R Design, which is available as an upgrade package for the current-gen C30, S40, and S60, is nothing like the R of legends told. The only nod to performance is made through a body kit and some polished sport exhaust pipes, the engines are the same as those found on the base models. The new R Design blatantly favors style over substance which, surprisingly enough, Volvo has no compunction admitting. From the official press release: “The R-Design appeals to the discerning younger customer segment that is looking for a personalised car with an exclusive, sporty nature. At the same time, R-Design has become a way for Volvo Cars to boost the company’s attractiveness as a brand and to enhance a more emotive connection to its products. And customer surveys show that this strategy is paying off.” To put it simply, they are employing a variation of the same market philosophy currently used by Scion: “Give them enough shiny objects and they probably won’t notice they could tear more ass in a Honda Odyssey.”
So, shame on you Ford for gutting yet another once-reputable brand and whoring it out to the attention-deficit Generation Y, and shame on you Volvo for bending over and taking it.