I've always been a fan of the Volvo turbo wagon. Ever since the early 80's when I saw my first 240 Turbo wagon, I've been hooked. They've always shared a soft spot in my heart. When the 850 T5R came out in 95, I couldn't wait to get one. I wanted one so badly. The way they looked with their 17" wheels (large for the time) and low stance with that aggressive front bumper really pushed all my hot buttons. Add the higher horsepower 5 cylinder turbo engine and I was sold. Too bad I never had the money at the time to get one.
Then Volvo answered everyones requests and finally brought a high horsepower all wheel drive manual transmission optioned wagon and sedan to market with the S60R and V70R. Well, they answered almost all the requests. We wanted something that was high performance. Something that showed the potential that the aftermarket has known for a long time, that Volvos can haul more than soccer balls and kids. Unfortunately, the 3700 pounds made the 300hp seem fairly optimistic especially with a quarter mile time of 14.4.
The automatic version of this car was particularly uninspiring to drive. I mean, don't get me wrong. The interior is excellent. No one makes a more comfortable seat than Volvo. The fit and finish is always top notch and there are plenty of cubbies to store things along with Big Gulp approved cup holders. The variable dampening suspension isn't a bad thing either. Go from "Advanced" to "Comfort" and you feel the difference easily. When I say uninspiring though, I mean it with all the niceness I can muster. When you build a car that's supposed to be special and all it can muster is a quarter mile time that's the same as an 03 Altima 3.5SE, it's not special enough.
The version I drove, however, was drastically different. This particular car was helped in the hot rod category by the Volvo Ninjas at IPD. The car sports a TME cat-back exhaust and TME ECU upgrade. It's also a 6 speed and let me just say, don't waste time with the automatic in this car. It's a tragedy and should never have been made. The manual though, is a mover, especially this particular one. I found myself wanting to race whoever pulled up next to me just so they could go home and post on their Facebook status that they got their butts handed to them by a grocery getter.
These cars are affordable now and pretty reliable. It's worth every penny for the exhaust and ECU upgrade and given the value price of the car used, it's worth the addition. In fact, I can say that I wouldn't own one of these without the upgrades. It's as drastic as Heidi Montag before and after plastic surgery.