The Volvo V70 R Is A Cool Modern Classic You Can Own For Cheap

Before Chinese automaker Geely took the helm of Volvo Cars, the Swedish automaker had a reputation for peerless safety technologies and boxy station wagons. Volvo's been making cars since 1927, but the world got its first taste of Volvo station wagons in 1953 with the ladder-frame Duett estate. It's essentially a truck hiding underneath a stretched car body, and it became a massive hit in Europe.

But when talking about Volvo station wagons, the venerable 850 is typically first in mind. Produced from 1991 to 1996, the 850 spawned a high-performance T-5R package that included a turbocharged 2.3-liter five-cylinder engine under the hood, pumping out 240 horsepower on 10.9 pounds of boost pressure. Other bespoke racing-inspired equipment includes T-5R Yellow paint, firmer shock absorbers, and 17-inch wheels. The 850 T-5R was a station wagon that punched above its weight class, accelerating from zero to 60 mph in a scant 6.7-seconds.

Volvo came up with something special for its next-generation station wagon, the V70. Not only is it sleeker than before, but it came with even more Scandinavian muscle under the hood.

Volvo V70 R: Not your typical station wagon

Volvo introduced the V70 R in 1997 to replace its hot-selling 850 R and 850 T-5R estates. Now sporting an all-wheel-drivetrain (unlike the front-wheel-drive orientation of the 850 R and 850 T-5R), Volvo concocted a more potent engine to seal the deal. The 20-valve 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder motor has a lower-restriction air intake to gulp more air. It also has two intercoolers, a more prominent KKK turbocharger, new camshafts with higher lift and longer-duration lobes, new pistons, and variable valve timing, said Car and Driver.

All told, the Volvo V70 R puts 300 horsepower at your disposal. More importantly, the revised five-cylinder mill offers 295 pound-feet of torque as low as 1,950 rpm. Power goes to all four wheels via a Haldex electrohydraulic all-wheel-drive system and a five-speed Geartronic automatic gearbox. The best part? The V70 R is available with a six-speed manual transmission.

There's more: the V70 R has standard 18-inch performance wheels, driver-adjustable shock absorbers (developed in cooperation with Monroe and Öhlins) that adjust 500 times per second, anti-lock Brembo brakes, and traction control. Not only is the V70 more potent than the old 850 R, but it has the hardware to match its newfound strength. According to Motor Trend, a stock Volvo V70 R has a faster slalom speed than non-Z06 Chevy Corvettes and rushes from zero to 60 mph in 6.06 seconds. Meanwhile, the V70 R has a top speed of 155 mph (250 kph).

Iron fist in a velvet glove

The V70 R remains a practical and roomy five-seat Volvo station wagon despite having more muscle and a bevy of race-proven hardware. Motor Trend adds it has sumptuous leather-wrapped R-Line sports seats, blue gauges with chrome accents, bi-Xenon headlights, and a Dolby Pro Logic surround-sound audio system. Other goodies like a new lower bumper and a subtle rear spoiler are standard fare.

But there's an exciting twist. You can get the same package in the S60 R four-door sedan if you'd prefer to avoid the station wagon aesthetic. According to some reports, only 3,407 second-gen V70 Rs were imported to the United States between 2004 to 2007. The base prices start at about $38,000 to $43,000 when new, but these days, you can have the most iconic Volvo station wagon (or sedan) in decent condition for $10,000 to $15,000 if you know where to look.