Volvo in the past may have been considered a safe, boring car brand, but only part of that is true today. Enter the 2012 S60 T6 R-Design. It’s safe and sporty – dare we say sexy – and will get you from zero to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. And it’s again a “Top Safety Pick” from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The S60 comes in three trim levels for 2012 – the new entry-level T5 base model, the S60 T6 AWD and the turbocharged T6 R-Design. We were quite happy to discover our test car for the week was the T6 R-Design.

This souped up sedan packs a wallop with its turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6, spitting out 325 horsepower and 354 lb.-ft. of head-snapping torque. It’s the solution to slow-moving drivers on two-lane roads, or those who insist on using the left lane illegally as a travel lane rather than as a passing lane. Punch the pedal and the T6 R-Design’s acceleration is as amazing as it is exhilarating.

So much for boring Volvos. This is a Volvo with attitude.

The new turbocharged T6 R-Design is joined by another new for 2012 S60 model – the entry-level T5, which has a 2.5-liter turbocharged 5-cylinder that generates 250 horsepower and 266 lb.-ft. of torque.

But the T6 R-Design takes the S60 model to the next level. Volvo engineers tuned the chassis with braces under the hood to tie the suspension strut towers together, stiffening the body structure and improving steering response.

Like the S60 T6AWD, the R-Design has a standard electronically-controlled all-wheel drive system with instant traction. The transmission is a 6-speed Geartronic automatic. We tried on a rainy morning accelerating through a turn, but instead of fish-tailing, our R-Design powered through the turn without a slip. There is a button to turn off traction control for the more adventurous types.

On the outside, the new Volvo has a redesigned front fascia with a grille painted in piano black. Eighteen-inch “Ixion” alloy wheels add to the sporty appeal.

Inside, the new Volvo has deep, heavily-bolstered bucket seats. The cabin is adorned with R-Design logos and cues like a sport steering wheel, gear selector, sport pedals and floor mats.

Infotainment is handled via Volvo’s Sensus system, which manages information from the audio unit, navigation system and other functions. The system uses a 7-inch hi-definition monitor at the top of the center console. Many of the car’s functions can be operated by steering wheel controls.

The navigation system is part of the optional multimedia package, which also features premium sound and a rearview camera. One nit to pick here: the rearview camera is turned on via a switch on the center stack rather than activating automatically when the car is put into reverse. Our test S60 did not have the optional technology package, but it seems like a great buy. For $2,100, you get adaptive cruise control, a collision warning system with full braking capability, pedestrian detection with automatic braking, and a lane departure warning system. These and other innovative safety systems are the reason the S60 is a top safety pick.

The S60 T6 R-Design delivers an estimated 18 miles per gallon in city driving and 26 mpg on the highway. The base price for the R-Design is $42,500, and with the multimedia and climate packages, the bottom line was $46,875.

The Volvo brand is still one of the safest around, but now it makes one of the safest sexy cars around.

Engine 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6

Transmission 6-speed Geartronic automatic

Horsepower 325

Test model base price $42,500

EPA mileage rating

18 mpg city / 26 mpg highway