By Andrew Bornhop The computerized central nervous system of the new Volvo S60 R is so advanced that, when the car is under severe braking — a few milliseconds before brake pads actually touch rotors — a microprocessor has already computed how much the front end will dip, and then uses this information to instantly optimize shock-absorber valving to reduce dive, enhance grip and improve driver control. And any time the steering wheel is turned quickly, Volvo's "Four-C" chassis (Continuously Controlled Chassis Concept) uses numerous onboard sensors to adjust the shock valving accordingly before the vehicle actually reacts. Impressive technology, this, made possible by Ohlins Racing AB, whose quick-acting valves are the secret to the S60 R's Monroe shock absorbers, which receive information up to 500 times per second. In effect, this means the shock absorbers are constantly being adjusted while the car is being driven, via sensors that measure everything from the rotational speed and vertical movement of each wheel to the quickness of steering inputs. The system sounds complex, but it is very efficient at keeping the S60 R's body (and that of its wagon counterpart, the V70 R) as parallel to the road surface as possible. It's also much appreciated, given that the all-wheel-drive S60 R sedan is the sportiest Volvo ever. Substantiating that claim is the car's 300-bhp heart — a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-5 engine — that is complemented by a 6-speed manual gearbox and the biggest Brembo brakes (with aluminum 4-piston calipers) Volvo can fit within the 18-in. alloy wheels, which are shod with 235/40-18 tires. When equipped with the 6-speed manual gearbox, the 3560-lb. R hits 60 mph in a claimed 5.4 seconds, which means it's significantly quicker than a BMW 330i but a half-second or so behind an M3. Driven in part by Volvo's need to make a more powerful 5-cylinder engine for its XC90 SUV, engineers increased both the bore and stroke of the T5's 2.3-liter and developed this new powerplant, which displaces 2521 cc and is capped by a new cylinder head with more efficient cooling passages and continuously variable valve timing for both the intake and exhaust camshafts. Aided by twin intercoolers (residing in the R's longer nose) and a hydroformed air pipe for improved airflow, a larger KKK turbocharger doles out 14.5 psi of boost to help this aluminum-block engine put out 300 bhp at 5500 rpm and 295 lb.-ft. of torque from 1950 rpm to 5250. For the record, all S60 Rs fitted with the Aisin-Warner 5-speed automatic produce 258 lb.-ft. of torque from 1850 to 6000 rpm. Those hoping for a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system will be disappointed because the R behaves like a front-drive car until wheelslip is detected. Then torque is apportioned rearward via the Haldex electronically controlled hydraulic coupling at the rear axle. This quick apportionment is most evident on tight uphill corners, where a typical front-driver will light up its inside front tire when power is applied. In the S60 R, however, before the driver can sense that the front tires have begun to slip, the rears are called into play, enabling the car to power out of the corner with composure. Also aiding the R are stability control and traction control. Despite 30 visible changes to the car (the most notable being its longer nose and revised front fascia), the R looks much like a standard S60 sedan. But inside there are more aggressively bolstered seats, richer-looking leather, a sportier steering wheel and metallic blue instruments. The buttons have a dramatic effect on the suspension damping. Advanced is too firm for everyday use. And last, but by no means least, there are three buttons on the dash not found on any other S60 that allow the driver to control the damping characteristics of the high-tech shock absorbers. Comfort mode is appropriately named, ideal for a long trip but floaty when the road starts to twist. At that point, switching to Sport firms up the suspension to the point I prefer on a daily basis. As for the Advanced setting, well, let's just say that very few people have driven a car with suspension this firm. It's for racetrack use only. All of this highlights the versatility of the S60 R: It shines as a standard everyday sedan when need be, yet — aided by great power, awd power delivery and fascinating suspension technology — it can frolic on any road course without embarrassment. A great effort, priced around $38,000 when it arrives this spring.