Shed of the Week: Volvo S60 R

The Volvo S60 R is quite a machine. Running very much under the radar, it could be the fastest Shed we've ever had. The 300hp/295lb ft burble from its 2.5-litre turbocharged five-pot gives it a 5.4 second 0-60 time and makes it one of the heaviest hitters in the mainstream motoring world in terms of power per cubic inch.

The S60 source car, built from 2000 to 2008, was Volvo's answer to the 3 Series and C Class. You'd never think so to look at it as it comes across as much bigger than either of them, but the coupé-ish looks are deceptive: it's actually quite a bit smaller than a Mondeo, as rear seat passengers with their knees up around their earholes will confirm.

The twin-intercooled, blue-engined S60 R was Volvo's answer to the M3 and S4, though again you might not realise that from the relaxed-feeling drive. For those in the front at least, it's a supremely comfy machine in the finest Volvo tradition, with electronically-controlled dampers, ultra-squidgy seats and a Skyhook active chassis system offering Comfort, Sport and er Advanced, which Volvo described as 'pure racing'.

But even with the traction control partially or (if you unearth the secret unlocking method) fully disabled, you won't be doing skids. Volvo's corporate caution plus Haldex four-wheel drive - and the fact that Ken Block hadn't yet come along to popularise wild driving - keeps everything as neat and tidy as a Swedish civil servant's desk. So there won't be much in the way of tyre burning, which could be seen as a good thing for on-a-budget drivers who don't mind mpg figures in the low 20s.

Volvo didn't make many S60 Rs in the first place and you certainly won't find many for sale now at Shed money. In fact, a quick check online reveals no examples available for under £5,000, and some at very much more than that. Our Shed is just £1,250, so there are going to be a couple of catches. Well, more than a few if we're honest.

First, before we get on to the slightly difficult aspects of our Shed, let's look at the quirks any S60 R owner might encounter. Get one that's been properly looked after and you'll have an understated but deceptively quick compact exec with a hefty dose of five-cylinder character, but a more neglected one like, for example, our Shed, could easily turn into a rolling testament of the things that can go wrong in a complex and specialist car.

We'll start with the four-wheel drive system. Either the transfer case or the rear propshaft's splined sleeve can go west, so any potential buyers will want to make sure that their four-wheel-drive S60 R isn't just a front-driver. Either get it up on a lift that will let you run the car in gear to check for all-wheel rotation or just scrabble underneath to see if you can turn the rear prop by hand. You shouldn't be able to.

Those electronically-controlled dampers are notoriously failure-prone, too. Volvo replacements are very expensive, but aftermarket units are available at vaguely affordable prices. It's highly unlikely that this car will still be on its factory items. The original wishbone arms were weak, but again, most if not all of those should have been replaced already by units with uprated bushes. Same goes for the anti-roll bars, which are often swapped out for aftermarket ones. High-mileage cars (see later) may be coming around for a second lap, of course.

If you decide to have a punt on our Shed, you'll want to hear it start from cold. Any lumpiness at idle might suggest split cylinder liners, most common in tuned cars whose engines have become too hot at some point. This problem can also manifest itself in the form of coolant loss and/or a smoky exhaust.

The exhaust system itself will be a few hundred quid with the cats. Cambelt replacement is on a 10yr/115,000 mile basis and isn't a big job. Stick with the approved spark plugs as these engines are a bit fussy.

Geartronic can be a dirty word in Volvo circles. The five-speeder in the R dulls the car's edge a bit. There's a travelling fair's worth of warning lights to worry about too. Ignore them at your peril.

Now, let's have a look at this particular car. It's done 209,000 miles, 20,000 of them in the last year. Although the last MOT was clear, there are only two weeks to go before the next test and judging by the pics, it's a well loved car - a well somethinged car, anyway - with unspecified body damage which it is safe to assume from the pics will be on the driver's side. The vendor invites you to give him a call on this matter.

But who cares about any of that! It has 300hp! How often will you have a chance to experience this sort of performance in your life, at this sort of money?

According to the ad, our S60 R even has a parrot. On this occasion, we can say with total accuracy that this should be of the 'whoosh' variety. For two weeks at least.

Here's the ad.

Volvo S60 R AWD. 300 BHP 56 plate 4 Wheel Drive. 207k miles. Full leather interior, very high spec, sat nav, phone, parrot, 6CD multiplay. Has some bodywork damage. Very fast 5 second car!! Please call for additional information on body damage.



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Comments (95) Join the discussion on the forum

  • 99dndd 16 Feb 2018

    Back on form Shed!

    Would be a great buy, depending on the damage.

  • Filibuster 16 Feb 2018

    Wow! This must be the most car ever in shed history!! Incredible, even if a bit rough!

  • drgoatboy 16 Feb 2018

    Interesting shed, didn't even know these existed. This one looks well past its sell by date though. How on earth do you crack the glass on in front of the speedo?
    Many brave pills required to buy this

  • alorotom 16 Feb 2018

    Didn’t know these existed either!

    Seems like a proper billy bargain at that price compared to others!

  • Car-Matt 16 Feb 2018

    Top class shedding, perfect mix of performance and jeopardy!

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